You Piece of Shit! – 12 December 2013

Posted: December 12, 2013 in Dialog, Prose
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


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I saw Gyslain, standing in Joy’s spot. “Hi, man, it’s cold this morning,  minus twenty three (minus ten degrees Fahrenheit). There’s no wind, but it’s too cold to sleep outside. I tried it until two this morning, then I had to go into Tim Horton’s for a coffee. I have a warm winter coat a winter sleeping bag, but it’s still too cold.”

I asked him, “Are there still people sleeping behind Tim Horton’s, or Starbucks?”

“Yeah, my friend Gilles. He sleeps just down the block, behind Tim Horton’s. Last night I went back there to check on him. He was drunk. I said ‘Hey, man, get up, you’re going to freeze!’ He said, ‘Don’t give me that bullshit.’ I said, ‘It’s no bullshit, get up, have a coffee, get warm. He said, “I don’t have money for a coffee.’ I said, ‘I’ll buy you a coffee.’ So, I bought him a coffee. We sat inside there holding our coffee cups to warm our hands. Then went to someplace else.

I asked, “Do you sometimes go to the Mission, or the Salvation Army?”

“Yeah, I did that Monday, but too many bed bugs. They’re everywhere.  I had to throw away all my stuff. I’m not going back there, ever.”

“I was sleeping behind the Parliament Buildings a couple of nights ago. There was this nice little doorway where I could get out of the wind.  A guy came out to have a smoke.  He said to me, ‘Move along, you piece of shit!’ He said it in French, because I’m French. I said, ‘Don’t you call me a piece of shit. You’ve got no authority. Who owns this building? I want to speak to the owner.’ It’s our own Parliament Buildings, we should have some rights there. Anyway, I moved on.

I asked, “Is there any chance that you may get a place of your own?”

“Yeah, January ninth. I was talking to my worker. She said I could have a place near Hunt Club, but that’s too far away. I have to get downtown to the Mission to have my meals. I have to see my worker. She thinks that she can find me something on Lisgar. That’ll be better.”

I said, “I guess it would be good if you were able to get a bus pass. That would help.”

“Yesterday, I was standing right here. A pedestrian was talking to a cab driver. He was telling him to park someplace else. The cab driver asked him, “Do you know how much I pay for a licence to park here?’ I guess the guy called the cops, because a cruiser pulled up. The cop talked to the pedestrian first. He said, ‘This driver pays fifteen thousand dollars for a cab licence. I’m not going to hassle him just because he’s beyond the taxi stand markings.’ Then he talked to the cab driver. He said, ‘I’m just going to write this up as a warning. You don’t have to pay it.’

“Have you seen Joy lately?”

I said, “Yeah, I saw her with Frank on Monday. He had to see his parole officer. She hasn’t been back since.”

Ghyslain said, “I saw Chuck on the corner, one day. I think it was yesterday. I also saw him with one of his sons in the Rideau Center.”

I said, “I know one of his sons, Chuck Junior. He has another, but I’ve never met him.”

“It’s too cold to stand here any longer. I’m going in to get a coffee and to get warm.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Ghyslain.”

“See you, man.”

  1. This is a powerful post. I will go through this day and hopefully many others with eyes more opened to people who share Ghyslain’s situation.


    • Hi Elizabeth, I am honored and humbled that a newspaper reporter would commend my writing. I agree with your words, “I learned that good stories are as close as the person sitting next to me. One question can open a new window on the world. All I have to do is look, ask, listen, engage.” If more people did this we would have a better world. Strangers needn’t be scary. ~ Dennis


  2. Carole Avila says:

    I’m amazed at the strength and courage people have–either living on the streets or helping those who are living on the streets. It’s a frustrating and often heartbreaking situation. I wish others were more inclined to help. Thank you for giving voice to those who desperately need it.


    • Hi Carole, thanks for your work as a life coach. Also, thank you for the message on your blog,

      “4.) Be a Do-er (Don’t focus on yourself. Organize Christmas carolers, or help the homeless. Hand out sandwiches, bottled water, and blankets. Find people living on the streets easily, just by opening your eyes and your heart. Don’t judge them, just help them!)”

      I look forward to the release of your book “THE LONG TERM EFFECTS OF SEXUAL ABUSE”. Many of my friends have suffered sexual abuse and are still feeling the effects. ~ Dennis


  3. I was thinking of so many homeless last night getting off the Metro at Bonaventure. Many warm up there until it closes. I think I’ll get some Tim Horton’s coupons to give out for hot coffee too this winter. Hope Joy’s okay.


  4. You are giving the homeless a voice. Sometimes we forget just how good we have it. I enjoy you posts. It is cold here in WA state, but not as cold as there. They have had a few warming stations here when the wind chill sent the temps. in the minus’. Keep doing what you are doing.



  5. toad (chris jensen) says:

    i guess we got it easy here in Vancouver. i sleep outside all year round…


  6. toad (chris jensen) says:

    Reblogged this on thisoldtoad.


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