By Melissa Godsoe
A man who begs for coins outside Tim Hortons says Ryerson security stole his winter coat.
Steve Mallie was given a Ryerson jacket last Wednesday by a university employee who noticed him shivering in the cold. The next morning, security approached him and took the jacket away.
According to Mallie, security officers met him outside Tim Hortons and made him hand over the coat, which is worn by Ryerson caretakers and sports the university name on the breast pocket.
“I couldn’t have the coat because only staff get to have those coats,” he said. “They seemed to be smirking when they walked away with that coat, as though they had won.”
We managed to get an expired lost and found jacket and made a trade with him,” said Lawrence Robinson, the manager of security. “A black leather jacket for his caretakers jacket and he was very happy with that.”
The coat Mallie says he was given in place of his jacket was a green and blue nylon coat.
“I wanted to go and ask them ‘is this the kind of coat you’re giving me after taking that one off of me?’ But I didn’t,” he said while stuffing his hand through the pocket and pushed it through to show the lining of the coat was ripped. “I didn’t want a confrontation. I’ve never had a problem before and I don’t want any now. They knew I wouldn’t cause a problem and that’s why they took it.”
According to Robinson, Mallie willingly parted with the winter coat and was satisfied with the trade. He was shocked to learn that Mallie felt bullied.
“We wouldn’t seize the jacket from him,” he said. “That’s news to me. If he’d like to come back and see us, I am sure we can arrange another jacket for him.”
But Mallie says he would never have parted with the jacket if he hadn’t felt pressured to. He claims he had thrown out three of the coats he used to bundle himself to keep warm on cold days.
“They wanted me to switch the coats in the middle of the street. I said no and I went inside the bathroom and changed jackets there,” he said. “I had to get a sweater from the drop-in centre because I was so cold. It didn’t feel good at all.”
Robinson said security was notified by caretaker management that Mallie was wearing a staff jacket.
“I don’t know what their motive was when they called to complain,” he said. “Essentially what we’re doing is low level street mediation and making sure all parties are happy.”
Robinson wasn’t sure how Mallie received the jacket because no one has come forward to say they gave him the jacket.
“I think it’s kind of ambiguous as whether he would be entitled to it,” he said. “It all depends on how he got the jacket and whether the person gave it to him had the authority to go and give it away.”
Mallie said he is bad with names and couldn’t identify the man he knows as a staff member. He was also given new boots and a pair of thick pants. He said the man was angry when he learned security had taken the jacket because he had paid for it out of his own pocket.
Mallie has been panhandling outside of Tim Hortons for three years to earn extra money to pay his rent. He moved from Kingston, Ont. After he lost his job because he thought there would be greater opportunity in the city.
He says he regularly tips security to crime on campus but he doesn’t feel comfortable around Ryerson any longer.
“I can’t deal with people over there. I don’t feel good when people treat me that way,” he says. “I don’t think no one owes me a living. But they should treat me like a human being.”