Sept. 22, 2021 The Division of Human Resources & Equity is now called the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

U of T Staffer Brings Sunshine to a Rainy Day

Umbrella on chair

This is a story about U of T staffer, Jermaine Poyser, and how a little kindness can have a big impact on someone’s day.

“…this gesture of human kindness, generosity, compassion, attentiveness is rare and beautiful and I want him to know that it was appreciated.”

It was Monday, June 8th, and the early morning rain had caused major disruptions throughout the city, including the public transportation services that many rely on to get around Toronto.

That morning, Heather, a visitor to U of T, found herself stranded in the rain with all of her luggage, having missed her train home to the U.S. She recounts how Poyser helped in her letter below (reprinted with permission).


I apologize for interrupting library business with an unrelated request, but hopefully it will be the kind of thing to put a smile on your face. I am trying to connect with the incredibly generous Robarts Library employee who made an otherwise rotten day bearable. Although I am not sure I can repay his kindness, I would at least like him to know how much his actions mean to me.

I have been in Toronto for the past week at a professional training workshop – 12 hour days every day of the workshop. This has left me exhausted and antsy to get home. I was supposed to catch a train back to the US this morning at 8:20, but when I got to the station, I discovered that the subway wasn’t running. I was told to walk a few blocks to the Streetcar only to discover that no public transportation was running. I then started to walk to Union Station 3.5 km away. It was impossible to flag a cab because they were all reserved. After 15 minutes of trying to get through to Beck’s taxi on the phone, I got an answer and reserved a cab to pick me up outside of Robarts Library. I stood there and waited for another good 20 minutes. It began to pour rain. I did not have an umbrella.

At this point, it was around 8 a.m. and there was no way I was going to make the train. I called to rebook for tomorrow and was in the middle of an embarrassing meltdown when your employee arrived. I wish I had asked his name… He noticed my distress and asked if I was ok…

He then said he would hail a cab for me and walked out in the pouring rain to stand there and try to call a cab. I followed shortly thereafter to thank him but say that I wouldn’t make the train and he tried to continue to hail a cab for me to take me wherever I was going. I said I needed to figure out where that was, at which point he insisted I take his umbrella.

I waited out the rain as long as I could, but I ultimately wound up walking 3/4 of a mile back to a room in the rain, and another couple of miles later in the day to get to where I ultimately needed to be. Given that I was lugging all of my clothing and my laptop and other important gear, I would have been lost without the umbrella.I don’t know how to express how much this meant to me. Yes, it means a lot financially, but truly, this gesture of human kindness, generosity, compassion, attentiveness is rare and beautiful and I want him to know that it was appreciated…

When asked for comment, Poyser responded “Sometimes we are so caught up with our lives that we tend to forget the most important thing (each other). Every so often we should take a second or two to be kind to each other. It doesn’t take much and you never know, those few seconds could brighten someone’s day or even save a life.”

Photo credit: Selena Panchoo

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