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In Montréal, some of the pan-handlers double as doormen at the Instabroke machines.

As a rule I try to be sympathetic although it's a feeling that's tempered by memories of my own less than sincere endeavours bumming for change as a teenager. But the whole opening the bank door for me has always seemed wrong on more levels than I am usually comfortable thinking about.


It's Friday night and, already late to meet a friend, I am beating a rough path down the Main when I pass the bank on the corner of Bagg. It's not a branch where it's practical for someone to open the door for you because it's normally locked and swings inwards, automatically, when you swipe your bank card.

Instead, the guy trying to scrape up enough money for food, booze, whatever is sitting directly in front of the card reader with a bank card in his hand and mechanically jamming it in to the slot as soon as anyone approaches the door.

That's at least another layer, or two, of uncomfortable thoughts added on to an already unpleasant situation.



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