November 22, 2016, Tommy Boucher, a Montreal man, stood at Jean-Talon Metro Station in Montreal, with his arms wide open! If that didn’t make him noticeable, his green “Free Hugs” T-shirt sure did!
That’s right! Boucher has been offering free hugs publicly for over a year and then all of a sudden, something unexpected happened this particular day.
Boucher was approached by local transport officials, who requested to see a permit for his free hugging.
Obviously confused by the request, Boucher is appalled! He explains on his blog that one of the officers began flipping through his (little) bylaw booklet and started looking for anything that would match with what he was doing.
Boucher was fined under STM bylaw R-036, section VIII, subsection II, rule 17, which states:
“In a Metro station, after obtaining the authorization of the Societe, it is permitted to offer for sale or lease services or merchandise, or to exhibit or distribute such services or merchandise, subject to the other restrictions in the present bylaw. Under any other circumstance or in any other place, such activities are forbidden.”
“The officer told me I can wear the shirt, but i can’t have my arms open.” Boucher explained. “”I know these guys have the mission to keep the peace in the subway…but when they give a ticket to those who actually are peaceful, where is the world going?”
Fortunately, most recent news says The Metro Service that the fine as been dropped, leaving Boucher only with a warning.
Boucher said, “I started giving out free hugs because someone had offered me one while I was having a bad morning. I took my free hug because I needed it. I found it so great and so easy, I wanted to share and give it back to people around me. I was surprisingly really comfortable with it. I just wear the T-shirt and spread my arms.”
Hearing a story like this can leave us indecisive. And it truly is sad that we live in a day and age where a kind gesture like this has to be questioned. From the point of view of public safety, there are people who have wrong intentions and seek to harm others. It’s a shame that those who want to do good for their communities have to be put under the microscope and even removed in cases like Tommy’s.
I’m happy Tommy expressed his thoughts on the matter and decides to still offer hugs. Just because he was warned, doesn’t mean his mission is incomplete.
Let’s all be more caring.
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