Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Poutine Kids

There were a group of kids whom had visited the family restaurant frequently in the summer of 2006 and 2007. Though I can't say I miss them, not having seen them at all this summer, I can never forget them and can't help but wonder where they are or how they're doing.

One memory I have tells of sometime last summer. There were 3 of them. One of them we saw waiting outside, another two entered the restaurant and began walking their own separate but determined paths within the small crowded restaurant. One was stopped by my sister as his eyes began searching around the room.

"What do you want? Is there something I can help you with?" my sister asked him. He probably would have plowed through my sister and pushed her aside if she didn't say anything. "Can I have some water?" was his reply as he changed course towards the fridge, cups, and water pitchers. A little rude if you ask me, but it was evident he was coming from a low income family and seemed to be have been payed little attention to.

The second boy, they were both roughly 10-12 years old, locked his gaze in the direction of the cash register as he slowly walked his way up to the till. "What can I do for you?" I asked, to which he mumbled an incoherent reply without taking his eyes off the till. "Is there something I can do for you?" I asked him again, but he wasn't responding to my questions but rather repeating his mumble which sounded something like "ooteen, ooteen, ooteen..." I had no idea what he was talking about, he wouldn't look at me or anything except for the cash register. I made my way to the cash register and from behind the counter looked down at him and asked him again, "What can I do for you?" only to have him repeat his mumble again. Without looking up at me, while looking around at the items placed on the counter at till I finally understood what he was asking me, "Do you have poutine."

Poutine? In a Asian restaurant? Not completely out of the question, but I'm sure a 12 year old would know not to ask for poutine in an Asian restaurant. "No we don't. Is there anything else I can do for you?" I asked him as his eyes continued surveying the items around him.

"Oh." was his reply, but still he stood standing and scanning with his eyes. By this time my father had made his way out to the dinning room and had gotten impatient with the kids. I can't remember what he told them, but it would have been along the lines of a modest "we're running a business, not a poutine business, and we can't keep having you guys come in here to ask for water or mints or candies every other day."

I always remember them running away from the place in a hurry though. It is almost as if they felt that they needed to run away each and every time they left the restaurant, but not before they would shut off all the light switches in the entry way plunging the whole dinning room in near-absolute darkness.

Sometimes they would come in twice in the day. In one of those days they came in, asked for water, didn't finish their water, hung out by the donations envelop for the opportunity for the disabled chocolate stand, and left. Later they came back, bought a pop, paid for it, hung out by the donations envelop for the opportunity for the disabled chocolate stand, and when we weren't looking, ran away without their one can of pop (I assume it was to be divided between the 3 people).

I'm actually not sure any more whether or not I miss them. I certainly remember them and do not want to forget them, regardless of the memories I have of them, but I can't help but wonder some days where they are or how they're doing.


david cunningham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
david cunningham said...

im liking this read, all the right drama for youth in the streets,,,,,,I'm a street rat from a way back,,,,,,,a real west sider I can relate ;)