How nice is it when you see someone advertising ‘free hugs’ in public? You always get that warm, fuzzy glow as you walk around them while avoiding eye contact. How nice.
But one man’s efforts were not appreciated by the local authorities, who slapped him with a relatively hefty fine of Canadian $101 (£60.40).
Tommy Boucher, from Montreal in Canada, was at the city’s Jean-Talon Metro station last week wearing a green t-shirt that read ‘Free Hugs’. True to his promise, he stood with his arms outstretched, ready to embrace.
However he was soon approached by two inspectors from the Société de transport de Montréal (STM), the city’s transport police.
‘They asked me if I had a permit,’ Boucher wrote on his blog. ‘Surprised, I asked which permit?’
He says that the inspector then flipped through a booklet of by-laws ‘until he figured out something that could stick with what I was doing’.
Apparently he was eventually fined under a law prohibiting the unauthorised ‘sale or lease of services or merchandise, or to exhibit or distribute such services or merchandise’.
‘What I understand of that,’ Boucher continued, ‘is that I can wear my t-shirt with “free hugs” written on it… but I can’t open my arms.’
He then told Globe News that he planned to contest the fine, ‘because I don’t sell or lease any services’.
In the mean time, he’s going to continue offering free hugs – but he’s going to stand outside the station from now on.