When I made the first trip downtown last week, my host Z had warned me to watch out for weirdos I could run into there. In her words, ‘the sun brings them out of their shell’. And those words were like a prophecy.
That first time, I’d travelled downtown for a job interview- one of those survival jobs for newly landed migrants. On arrival to the interview venue, I realized I had some time to kill before the beginning of the interview and went to grab a light lunch at the McDonald’s on the opposite street. The things my eyes saw in that place ehn took me a long while to digest. From a guy who sat opposite me munching his food loudly, with mustard and fries decorating his nose and chin; to a lady who cursed out her own brains after spilling coffee on herself, her chair and her five bags filled to the brim with all sorts of household items. Then there was an older man who sat at the edge of one of the chairs reading his newspaper like a retired US SEAL. Every once in a while he’d look up and arrest me with his piercing gaze. There was also a homeless lady who after eating free lunch refused to leave the cafe and had to practically be forced outside, back on the streets. Then, her benefactor – a middle-aged man proceeded to inform the whole cafe- proudly I imagine- on how he had bought a homeless woman free lunch and by this singular act had secured himself a first class ticket to heaven.????
Today, as I headed downtown again, the crazies were waiting for me, but this time- in Starbucks. I was downtown for the 2nd level interview of this same survival job. In true hustler style, candidates were split up into groups and due to space constraints, we had to find cafes around the area for group interviews. That’s how a young Congolese lady and I were paired to interview with this sweet Colombian lady- A. A decided to take us to Starbucks. We selected a table and began the interview in earnest.
Suddenly I felt someone watching me. I turned to my left and saw this Caucasian guy, scruffily dressed, with a ring of what suspectingly looked like milk around his mouth staring. Every time A, the Congolese lady or myself spoke, Mr. Milk would switch his gaze from either one of us. His stare was sooooo spooky and he never blinked.???
I turned to the ladies to check their level of discomfort if any, but they carried on the conversation as if nothing was amiss. I looked around the cafe, especially to the cafe attendant at the till to see if anyone was watching this strange behavior unfold. Again, nothing. After about two minutes, Mr. Milk got up from his chair and came and stood right next to me. I reckon he was probably about a foot away. He continued with his frightening gaze, and this time I could hear him breathing heavily. Mehn, I almost peed myself. ?????
God knows if I was Lagos, at the minimum, I would have gotten up from my table and left the cafe. Unfortunately, this is Canada and I was not sure how to react here. A carried on with the interview, giving us time to respond but your girl was listening with one?only. I watched Mr. Milk from the side of my left eye for any strange moves.
Thankfully, the interview came to an end, and we could leave Starbucks. I promptly walked out without so much as a backward glance to check to see if anyone was following me, as I heaved a huge sigh of relief.??
I couldn’t help but wonder to myself why someone who looked and acted mentally ill was strolling around town, making other people uncomfortable. Abi, is this not Canada again? The land flowing with err… milk and err… honey??????