I met Steven outside of 7-Eleven on Granville. He stood there the entire time and opened door for every customer. I went up to him and offered him a loaf of bread, to which he accepted. As he was very polite and friendly, I was encouraged to talk to him. When I first asked to speak to him, he immediately clarified that he was not panhandling, as apparently this was a common misperception people had towards him. Indeed, Steven had no sign out nor did he actively ask anyone for money. He simply had a cap in his hand (presumably for tips) and waited by the door to enthusiastically service each person who went in and out of the store. Many thanked him, but there were also those who either ignored him or gave him strange looks. No matter the reaction, Steven remained steadfast to his treatment of the customers and opened the door each time with great cheer.
Steven came to Vancouver about 18 years ago and has lived here ever since. He currently lives with his girlfriend in a temporary housing and holds a part-time job elsewhere. He does not stay in one place indefinitely, but moves around in Vancouver opening doors for people at various locations. When I was talking to Steven, he mainly reminisced about Granville street two decades ago and how people used to respect the streets more instead of jaywalking all the time.
My impression of Steven is that he is a very independent individual. The fact that he emphasized he was not panhandling and the pride he exuded when telling me that he has a job and housing suggested that he was often subjected to misunderstanding from the public, especially since he was doing an act of service that did not seem to have any obvious reward. However, despite the disapproving looks he gets from some people, Steven continues his door-opening services to all, equally and happily. I admire this spirit and hope that he continues the service but with more people acknowledging and thanking him.
Steven’s story reminds me of a friend who told me of the harsh backlashes he receives from people to whom he bestowed his random acts of kindness. Like Steven, people are often eager to receive his kindness, but some would also question his motive even though he asks for nothing in return. This saddens him greatly, and he would often cry about it in private. I myself have faced people who are quick to judge what I am doing on the streets. I hope that one day people would simply accept help without suspicion and to realize that there truly is unconditional love and random acts of kindness in the society 🙂