On Jan. 12, I went to the Esso at King George Boulevard and 24 Avenue to get a coffee from Tim Hortons. I usually never go there in the morning but I am fortunate that I went there to witness an event I will not soon forget.
At the head of the Tim Hortons line was a middle-aged homeless man that I have seen periodically in our neighbourhood of South Surrey. He was placing an order for a coffee and bagel with the cashier.
The man directly behind him stepped in towards the cashier and paid for the first man’s order. The middle-aged man turned around to thank the other man for his kindness and then we saw visually and viscerally what he had to endure in his life. His eyes were black and blue, his face swollen and there was a very large incision that had been stitched and extended from just above his eyebrow up to his hairline. His face was a mess!
Both of us gasped and asked what had happened to him. He replied that a group of youth had beaten him because he had refused to buy them alcohol.
I would not have used the word “group”; I would have used the word “pack”, as what these young men did to this innocent man is what wild animals do when they chase down prey to devour.
I wonder what kind of society, culture and home environment/parenting breeds young people who travel in packs targeting vulnerable individuals?
You may say that it will not happen to you. Maybe not, maybe it will – life is a series of chance happenings after all.
But what I do know is that in that instant I saw the kindness of a person who cared enough to buy a homeless man a cup of coffee and then take the time to sit with him to visit. But, I also saw the ugliness of what happens probably on a regular basis to the vulnerable in our neighbourhoods. Not someone else’s neighbourhoods – ours.
I pray that we will all put in the hard work that is entailed to teach our young that the value of a human life is precious and is to be respected.
Maureen Klassen, Surrey