Toronto Police Officer’s Random Act Of Kindness Goes Viral

Toronto police officer Mark Borsboom lends a helping hand. Image: Jason Cassidy
Toronto police officer Mark Borsboom lends a helping hand. Image: Jason Cassidy

Toronto police officer Mark Borsboom is a bit amused by social media like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. He doesn’t quite understand what all the fuss is about.

And his opinion hasn’t changed, now that a photo of him has gone viral.

“Viral” means that the photo has been liked, posted and shared on the Internet by many people.

The photo captures the officer doing a simple, good deed—tying an elderly man’s shoelace for him.

Borsboom was on a paid-duty* assignment, helping cars leave the parking garage at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre.

As he was standing near the exit, an elderly gentleman approached the police officer. The man had no feeling in his hands as a result of a health issue. He had a long way to walk to meet his son, and his shoe had come loose.

He asked officer Borsboom if he would mind tying his shoe for him.

“I didn’t think anything of it—I said ‘sure’ and tied his shoelace. I didn’t know anyone had photographed it.”

Someone had. The photographer was Jason Cassidy, who happened to be walking by when he saw the act of kindness.

Cassidy posted the photo on Twitter and it quickly became a sensation.

“It was just a quick encounter,” said Borsboom. “If I’d described it to you, no one would care. The photo is kind of compelling in the way it looks and that sort of caught people’s attention.”

In fact, there are many more interesting and dangerous things officer Borsboom has done for his work. His regular job is catching violent criminals. One hot day recently he spent hours sweating in a van, an assignment he describes as “a million times harder (than helping someone by tying their shoelace).”

That’s why he’s a bit surprised that this small and simple act is what has caught people’s attention.

But although he’d rather not have the spotlight on him, he told TKN that if the photo “makes people think better about police officers… then I think that’s a good thing.”

He said his other colleagues in Toronto’s 14 Division, “do things like that daily.” He said most officers have “a sense of obligation and duty that comes along with citizenry.” In other words, helping others is something most police officers—and people in general—would and should do.

“What was captured there (in the photo) wasn’t the deed of an officer, but the deed of a Torontonian and a citizen who did what was right,” said Borsboom.

After Borsboom tied the man’s shoelace, the two of them talked about the high price of parking in downtown Toronto. And then the man left to join his son, who had parked far from the Convention Centre in order to get cheaper parking.

“I haven’t spoken to him or heard anything from him since,” said Borsboom.

The officer’s random act of kindness, however, continues to be shared and posted on the Internet.

“I’m watching it with some amusement from afar,” he said.

*“Paid duty” is work some officers do outside of their normal work hours.

This article was originally published on TKN on June 6, 2013.

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Officer Borsboom explained that many police officers have “a sense of obligation and duty that comes along with citizenry.” In your opinion, what are the obligations and duties of all Canadian citizens?

Reading Prompt:
Do you think this image will inspire others to do good? In other words, do you think that seeing an act of kindness can encourage others to do the same in their own lives? If yes, should people actively share their acts of kindness? If no, what is the best way to promote kindness and caring within a community?

Make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations (OME, Reading: 1.5).

Grammar Feature: Sentence Structure
Today’s article contains a very bizarre sentence. In fact, it’s only two words long! The sentence is, “Someone had.” But is this sentence a fragment (grammatically incorrect because it is incomplete)? The answer is that, despite its length, this sentence is considered complete because it satisfies the two rules of a proper sentence:
1. It contains a subject (“someone”),  and
2. it contains a verb (“had”).

So, although very short, this sentence is grammatically correct.

Why might an author choose to write a short and stubby sentence like this one?