Celia was on a class trip to walk around the Eaton Centre with her best friend, Damon, and their entire grade 2 class one day. They were learning about buildings and structures for their new unit in science, and her teacher, Mrs. Rhys, chose a gigantic mall in the city to show the class. "This is so cool!" Celia said with a smile. "Yeah," Damon agreed.
Just then, a man approached the group. He looked very different than all of the other adults that worked at Celia's school, or even all of the other adults in her family. He had a long grey beard, tangled curly hair, old dirty clothes with stains on them, and smelled very bad. Mrs. Rhys stared at him. Celia and Damon felt very scared. "Do you have any change?" the man asked.
"You should be ashamed of yourself!" Mrs. Rhys told the man. "People like you need to get a job and make your own money so that you can stop taking money from other people!" "Please," he begged. "I'm so hungry... I haven't eaten in days." Wow, I can't imagine skipping breakfast, let alone being hungry for days! Celia thought. "Get out of here, before I call the police! You're upsetting the children!" Mrs. Rhys yelled when Damon began to cry. She shouted so loud that she scared the man off. He sadly walked away, and the class marched into the mall in silence.
"Who was that man?" Celia asked Mrs. Rhys when they got inside a store. "A bum," Mrs. Rhys answered, crossing her arms. Celia was confused. "He looked like a person to me!" She didn't really like her teacher this year, because she always raised her voice. But, she especially didn't like that her teacher hurt that man's feelings. "I thought that we were supposed to treat everyone nicely!" "Not those people," Mrs. Rhys mumbled. Celia didn't quite understand, but she completely forgot that Damon still had tears in his eyes. She quickly asked him what was wrong. "Nothing," Damon sniffled. But Celia knew that something was not right.
That night, Celia was helping her mother with dinner in their kitchen. "Momma, what's a 'bum?'" Celia asked. Her mother laughed. "Uhm, that's a weird question!" Celia sighed. "Well, our field trip today was in downtown Toronto, and a dirty man came up to Mrs. Rhys and asked her for money, but she told him to get a job and go away! Then, when I asked her who he was, she said that he was a 'bum.'" Celia's mother looked upset. "Hmm. Oh, I see. Well, I can tell you right now, calling him a 'bum' in front of you children was not very nice," she muttered. Celia still didn't get it. "Then who was he, Momma?"