Excuse Me

Valerie Preminger


You’re sitting in the new food court at the Eaton Centre, now equipped with silverware and actual plates. You and your friends are having a good time, laughing about something that happened at school earlier. Then suddenly, you hear a different voice.

“Excuse me, would you like to buy some chocolate?” It is a boy, probably no older than 11 or 12, holding a laminated piece of paper and a box of almond chocolates in his hand. You look at him and you can’t help but think that he might really need help, because the laminated paper says it’s to help teens.

So you buy a box of chocolates, because it’s the right thing to do.

But having witnessed three of those boys being led out of the mall, you’re not really sure.

A few weeks later, you see another one, and you take the chance to talk to him. Apparently, selling these chocolates counts as volunteer hours. It is arranged by the school so it is legal to sell them at the food court. Unfortunately, you did not have time to catch the name of his school before he left. The boy claimed he was in Grade 10, but he couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 years old.

So what’s the real reason? Is it really an easy way to get hours or is it a family forced job?

For now, you guess, you’ll just keep buying chocolates.