Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Business Casual

It’s an interesting life, and the adventure continues.

I am working downtown, in the very heart of Minionization. Deadpan eyes surround me, dressed smartly in business casual. My job is to be electronically tethered to a Blackberry, following its commands through a rat maze of offices until I reach my destination; a printer that needs to be attended to. I catch snippets of mundane conversation which I try my best to tune out. When it gets to be too much, I close my eyes and daydream about what I was doing a couple of months ago – swimming with whale sharks in azure, calming blue water. Silurian blue.

I was walking home the other evening when an ambulance pulled up to the sidewalk in front of me. With an air of casual joviality the paramedics lazily climbed out and, chatting lightly, made their way to the object of the call; a half dead homeless person blocking the entrance to a mall. A security guard barking into a radio hung over the sprawled figure. People walked by, going about their business, unconcerned.

This morning, coming to work the subway pulled up to Rosedale station, which is hardly ever used. Rosedale is the home of the Elite Minions, rich, luxury car driving folks with no need to lower themselves to the crude shoving that subway travel entails. As we pulled up, I saw somebody on the ground, thinking it unusual that a homeless person would be sleeping at this particular station. As we got closer I noticed the uniform – business casual. People looked on with concern, and several rushed out of the subway cars to lend assistance. The subway driver eventually appeared, and an announcement rattled through the speakers that our journey was to be delayed because of a medical emergency.

I started thinking about the discrepancy between the two incidents. Both were human, and both needed medical attention. What exactly was the reason for this? If it had been a homeless person sprawled at Rosedale station, the subway would not have stopped, and people would not have lent a hand. Some might have looked on, with curiosity, but nobody would have helped. Why is one life valued so much more than the other?

Some people might say the homeless are hopeless, drunks, drug addicts or crazy, this might very well be true, but why would that reduce the feeling of empathy upon seeing one?

Could it be the answer is economics? The woman’s uniform presented her as being more valuable to the system, and therefore in greater need of attention. Perhaps we should start donating business casual clothing to the homeless.

My lunch is over. The Blackberry has been sending me alerts, but I have discovered that if I simply reply with a text saying “Issue Resolved”, it stops bothering me.


  1. You're writing is great. Stumbling upon your blog has been a real breath of fresh air. You have a depth in your perception that few who walk this earth are capable of understanding, but that is more of a blessing than a curse. Please, keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you for your inspirational words. I’m flattered. I’ll try and post more often, but please be patient. I’m kind of lazy and writing is hard work!

  3. Very interesting. Your writing is very smooth and compelling. I read through the entire post without even noticing it.

    This post really does highlight how people are really more self-centered than what they are given credit for. However, I do not see this as a bane to humanity. You might be interested to read some of my related posts: One on altruism and one on human motivation.

    Looking forward to more. Cheers!