Monday 26 January 2015


French has been working security at an old warehouse these last few months.  It is a huge rambling building.  There are a few businesses in it, but the very back is vacant.

He was doing a night round and busted a guy who was living in an old office.  French said he spotted a can of fresh cigarette butts on a fire escape.  He went up the stairs and found a guy sleeping on the floor.  French woke him up a bit later with a Tim Horton's coffee.  His name was Marko and he told French his story.  He was in his mid twenties, and had immigrated from the former Yugoslavia.  He had Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian blood, so his family had fled the civil war.  The breaking point had come when a bullet had smashed through their wall and zinged right over the dinner table.  His family left that night.

In Canada his luck had not improved.  His father had died early on in a car wreck, and Marko had been left to fend for his mother.  She too had died just this past summer of Lupus.  Marko had been let go a couple of weeks ago from a seasonal job as a snowplow operator due to the lack of snow this year.  The rent was overdue, and he lost his apartment.  He'd been sleeping, and staying out of the cold by riding on the crosstown buses, but the Transpo cops had caught onto him.

French believed his story, and was able to convince the owner of the warehouse to let Marko stay, and to even let Marko have his security job.  French said, "It worked out for the both of us. I hate working security!"

Friday 16 January 2015

On brothers, community, and Dutch kissing

Every time I head out with French, especially in Eastern Ontario, we seem to meet someone he knows.  This happens anywhere between Ottawa and Kingston, and sometimes further afield.  I know a great many of these people, but there are always more.  I was trying to break this down today as I drove into work.

For one thing French calls all of these people "brother", and he gives them a long hearty handshake.  I feel he gets this from his years of hanging out in wrestling locker rooms.  This traditional greeting has gone a long way.  He also carries around a pack of smokes, and he'll always offer one up if the "brother" is a smoker.  Most often he'll also offer to buy them a coffee, or a pint.  French also seems to get them talking, and then do a lot of listening.

If he meets a woman that he knows he'll greet them with three kisses on their cheeks.  He'll laugh and say "I'm not Dutch, but I love their greeting".   Once we met a pretty woman, and French was slow to offer his usual salutation; she chastised him, as she offered her cheek: "where are my kisses?"

French sure knows how to anchor friendships, and build community - Brother.