Here’s a very brief encounter that showed me how utterly wrong my perception of people can be. This strange event took place a few years ago on a relatively safe street in a low to middle class section of a suburban city called Greenfield Park, Quebec.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the Summer, I stepped out of my apartment building, which was on the middle of the street. To my right I saw a blond haired man riding on a bike carrying a six pack of beer. Trailing right behind him was a little boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, riding on his own bike. The man was wearing a clean white t-shirt and khakis. He looked like he could be a friendly guy who worked in an office somewhere on the weekdays. What this seemed like to me was a father and son coming back from the store, taking advantage of the sunlight and free time. Maybe they were going to have a little barbecue back home and watch a hockey game as the dad and mom would have a couple of beers with dinner. It seemed like the middle of a peaceful Sunday for a young Canadian family.
On the left side of the street was a very disheveled man wearing dirty clothes, carrying empty cans in plastic bags, riding his rusty old bike, coming towards the father and son. I had seen that man before on the street. He would ride around the neighborhood, talking to himself, often swearing out, while collecting cans from garbage bins for money, wearing unwashed clothing, making everyone around him feel uncomfortable and unsafe (mainly because of the cursing & ranting to no one).
Suddenly the ‘crazy’ guy began yelling very loudly at the father and son. He was pointing his finger at the nice, proper looking man, screaming: “Pedophile! He’s a pedophile!” I began feeling so angry at that bum. The father and son were spending some quality time together on a nice Sunday afternoon and this bum was shattering all of this. What happened next blew my mind.
As the crazy guy on the bike continued his insane rant about pedophilia, the ‘father’, seeming alarmed, increased his speed drastically and zoomed away, leaving the boy way behind him. Within seconds the ‘father’ was completely out of sight from the street. The boy remained on the street and the disheveled man rode past, continuing to talk to himself. The boy seemed rattled but was perfectly safe. I was in shock.
What I had thought was father and son, was not so. The person I thought was a crazy bum, had saved the little boy from this predator who may have lured the child with a six pack of beer. That ‘crazy bum’ was the hero of the day.