One day last summer I was at St. Clair and Yonge, an upper business district in Toronto, and a young woman asked me for change. She was standing in front of a Tim Horton’s and as beautiful as her deep eyes were, something inside told me to refuse. So I politely said “sorry” and went in to buy my coffee.
We have a good welfare and social services system here in Canada, and our taxes are high, so to be honest, I don’t give change very often. I used to. But after getting scammed by a lying street person I stopped. Also, I used to give out so much change that I got a rep as a “softy” and would be approached by way too many people every time I walked certain downtown streets.
But the other day, the young woman in question seemed different. My gut told me she was being held captive and some background operator would have just taken whatever cash I gave her. I could have been wrong but she seemed faraway and out of place. Like a Romani snatched up in Europe by organized criminals… something like that.
When I didn’t give her any money, the light in her eyes didn’t change, as if to say, with a deep, tragically beautiful and penetrating stare… “It’s alright… I’m trapped… it makes no difference… I understand and forgive you.”
Encounters like that are no-win situations, to be sure. You feel like crap if you don’t give and a bit robbed if you do.
But I chose to follow my gut and not give.
I hope I was right.
Actually, for her sake, I hope I was wrong.
The vast majority of human trafficking takes place among Eastern European crime rings. They are clever as hell and connected on many blue and especially white-collar levels in Canada.