Originally posted January 24, 2011
I live at the intersection of Mason ‘s Corner and Dewitt’s Hot Dogs. Dewitt’s this somewhat belligerent guy that works a mobile hot dog stand when there’s an event at the Air Canada Center across the street. I really like Dewitt. He, like me, has no patience for idiots. He throws his arms around wildly, berating drivers for acts of stupidity and launching verbal daggers at the passerby whose misfortune it is to make eye contact. On occasion he throws a mustard packet but that’s reserved for the bellybutton lint of society: the dog walker who fails to scoop the poo. Come on, that’s so legitimate. How can a dude sell hot dogs if they taste suspiciously like ass? I wouldn’t call Dewitt malicious. Just annoyed. And justified by my standards.
Then there’s Mason, who runs the adjacent business. His signage is unconventional. On the side of a giant pilaster that supports the elevated highway looming over Lakeshore drive is “Mason’s Corner”, carefully scripted in black chalk with purple chalk scribbles over it to really deliver a visual punch. Mason’s line of business can best be described as public relations. He spends the work day out on the street meeting and talking with the average man. And by “on the street” I mean at the traffic light on the corner of Lakeshore Drive and Bay Street.
Mason shows up most mornings before the rush hour traffic with Tim Horton’s coffee in hand and backpack slung over his shoulder. He pulls a book out of his bag of tricks, and sits down with his coffee to enjoy a few minutes of quiet time before the busy day. By 8:00 he’s hittin it hard, approaching stopped vehicles & pedestrians, coffee cup still in hand. He chats with the public very briefly and they then reward him for his apparent words of wisdom by tossing coins into his Timmy’s cup. He doesn’t try to sell them roses or day-old Krispy Kream Donuts. He doesn’t offer them a chance at lottery winnings with last week’s lotto tickets. He doesn’t even wash their windshields. Mason is, undeniably, a networking phenom.
Around 4:30 Dewitt’s hot dog stand makes it’s way down the street and Mason disappears. Hard to compete with a meat by-product in a steamed bun. Unless it has the after taste of dog ass.
I felt kind of bad for Mason at first, getting bested by Dewitt and his plump, tempting weenies. Until I walked home from Union Station one night elbowing my way thru the crowd lingering outside the Air Canada Center before a Maple Leafs game. I heard a familiar voice rise above the hum of the crowd. “TICKETS! TICKETS! HOCKEY TICKETS!” And out of the corner of my eye I see Mason! He’s moved his base of operation 15 yards north and he’s scalping tickets! And now he’s sporting a North Face jacket, Merrill hiking boots, and a $5.04 latte from Second Cup. The little scam artist was channeling Billy Ray Valentine. Probably drives a Volvo and has a matching pair of Papillon puppies that his wife carries to the mall in a Burberry shoulder bag after dropping her twins off at private school where they play cello and flute in the school orchestra.
Look, I have no hard feelings toward Mason. Truth is, he works a 13-hour day, outside in the elements, at a corner of the city where the wind whips off the lake and around the buildings nearly slicing you in half. I give him credit for building a lucrative business with nothing more than $1.25 in overhead for a Tim Horton’s coffee. He knows the demographics of his markets, has an effectively diverse business plan, and dresses for success. If I could come up with some more overused, lame corporate lingo I’d throw it in at right here.
All I want to know is this: If I put money in the Tim Horton’s coffee cup at Mason’s Corner in the afternoon, will I get a discount on Lady Gaga Tickets at the ACC in the evening?