Hartman’s on Bank Street in Ottawa is an asshole

Update July 2013: Please note a few days back, I found the girl and I gave her some peaches. Recently, I noticed that there are now (lovely and kind) homeless folk who are around Hartman’s and no one has asked them to leave. I am back to being a customer of theirs. Maybe they just had a shit employee?!

I just went to Hartman’s and in front of the entrance was a little girl completely and totally strung out. She was sitting on the ground, arms wrapped around herself rocking quietly back and forth with a little cup in front of her for any change anyone had to give. The cup was empty.

When people weren’t ignoring her, they were cutting her with their gross gross gross eyes.

She. Is. A. Kid.

Please remember what I have said in the past and what I will repeat until I am dead and buried — no one wants to be on the street. No one dreams of being on the street. No one goes to sleep in a safe bed with their parents safely tucked away in the same house and ends up on the streets. Those who do have a history of abuse; very often sexual, always and definitely physical. Where there is no abuse, there is often mental illness. The street is their safety. The street, with its brutality and coldness and danger, remains safer than their homes. Please get that through your thick heads once and for fucking all you assholes who look down on those whose only safety net is the street.

Remember that next you are safely tucked at church, synagogue, masjid, temple, whatever. Remember it before you remember anything else. Remember that He asked you to care for others, not to ignore them. Not to deny them. Shun them. Look down on them. Definitely not to have them removed so that you are made more comfortable.

And again, I will say: She. Is. A. Kid.

I walked over to her and crouched down to speak. I asked her if I could buy her some food. She could barely lift her head, so I said hi again and asked her again if I could buy her some food. When she finally looked up, it seemed like she was trying to shake a ton off of her head to respond ‘no’.

In place of food, I asked if she wanted a coffee. She answered this by telling me she was an alcoholic. I told her I wouldn’t buy her alcohol but I would buy her food. “Can I buy you something to eat? Is there anything you want to eat?”

“A salad.”

I — literally, not figuratively — ran into the store, I grabbed for her a regular salad, a fruit salad, and a chocolate milk; for me, olives and my yogurt. I paid up and was back outside in less than 10 minutes to find that she had vanished. There were folks standing around who had been there while I was speaking with her and they told me that she was asked to leave by someone from the store.

I walked up and down Bank Street like a mad woman carrying her food in a little bag that I intended to leave with her; I couldn’t find her. I couldn’t see her on any of the side streets and I was getting angrier by the second. I couldn’t find her. I have no idea where she’s gone and all I have is this stupid entry to let people know that this is your “neighbourhood” grocery store. This is who they are. This is what you need to remember the next time you give money to this store.

I came home and fought back a cry of of sheer anger and frustration. I stuck the stupid chocolate milk in my fridge because it’s not for me and looking at it just turns my stomach.

Fuck you, Hartman’s, and fuck any of your customers who were set ill at ease by this little girl. You deserve one another; you just lost me as a customer.