The person who came through the doors was the quintessential picture of a homeless man. He was tall and scruffy looking with an unkempt beard and two green reusable bags stuffed with all of his worldly belongings slung over his shoulder.
I introduced myself and invited him to have a seat and warm up. He placed his bags on floor within direct sight of where he was sitting and shared his story.
He was quite an interesting character. At different points in the conversation he described himself as an inventor and a researcher of people. He said the bread man had asked him if he was homeless, but he wasn't homeless, he was travelling. He preferred to sleep rough in order to reduce his carbon footprint. I asked him where he'd slept last night and he named a spot we were familiar with in the bushes next to the library. It's amazing to me how even out of towners have an instinct for finding the places in town to sleep to get out of the wind. The previous couple of nights he'd slept in other places familiar to us. An entryway where the heat blew straight down on you and an atm vestibule.
He was headed from BC to Ontario where he would stop and see his sister before he decided where to go next. On the way he wanted to interact with all the cultures and had come to Steinbach looking for Mennonites. He'd been in town for a few days but hadn't noticed any. I explained that the Mennonites around here looked and acted just normal people every where else. It wasn't like the old days of horse and buggy. He looked a little disappointed but then said maybe he'd find some Amish on his travels. I suggested he look around the Vita area south of here.
He stayed with us at the drop in center all day that day, mostly doing research on human behavior at our computer station by watching Youtube videos, music videos and reading articles online. He had a habit of sucking the flavouring off of potato chips for his lunch and then discarding the soggy chips afterwards. He also enjoyed a tin of meat with his meal when it was offered to him. He came back to the drop in center every day for about a week, watching the people come and go and visiting with our regulars, until one day he didn't. We heard he was spotted south of Grunthal with his two large green bags hooked over his shoulder. I like to think he was on his way to spot some Amish.
Every once in a while we get a person through here who is simply a traveler making their way across the country. They always have an interesting story to share and a world view that makes one pause and assess their own point of view. Is it sleeping rough or is it eliminating your carbon footprint? Is it goofing off online or is it the study of human behaviour?