Archive for April 13, 2019

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panhandeling-women

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28 August 2012

This morning, when I approached Joy, I noticed that she had her blanket wrapped around her legs and her hood pulled up.

“Hi Joy, you’re all bundled up.”

“I’m not feeling well. I was throwing up all weekend. I couldn’t keep anything down. Chester asked me if I wanted him to call for a doctor, but I said no. This morning I had toast and tea. I thought that would stay down, but it came back up again. Cathleen was by earlier, she brought me a cup of tea, two cream, three sugars. I only drank half of it and I’m starting to feel queasy.”

Alphonse and Magdalene came by, said hello and shook hands, then carried on. Joy said, “I don’t like Magdalene. Usually, I don’t have anything to do with her. It was weird shaking hands.”

Bearded Bruce came along, “Hi Dennis, I just wanted to see how grumpy here was doing today.”

Joy said, “I’m grumpy alright, feeling sick doesn’t help.”

“What kind of sickness do you have?” he asked.

“Just nauseous,” she said.

Bruce said, “I just saw Alphonse and Magdalene. They seemed happy.”

“I’ve got no use for her,” said Joy.

“Why is that?”

“I’ve got no use for someone who drinks alcohol and smokes crack while they’re pregnant. I never did that and I’ve got five sons. If she’d stayed clean they’d probably still have their baby.”

“Bruce, “ I asked, “how did it go with your housing appointment yesterday?”

“Great, they’re going to have a list of places for me to look at tomorrow.

”I was panning yesterday and a guy handed me a five dollar bill. He said, ‘I guess you’re going to spend that on beer, are you?’ I said, ‘As a matter of fact, I’m going to use this to dry my sleeping bag. With all the rain we had last week it got wet.’ Later on he saw me in the laundromat. He said, ‘I didn’t believe you, but I guess you were telling the truth.’ There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep in a wet sleeping bag. I probably spend half to two-thirds of the money I make on food. That way I’m not throwing up every morning and don’t have the shakes.”

Joy asked, “Where’s Inuk?”

“I don’t know,” answered Bruce. “she didn’t come home last night. I’m just on my way to have breakfast, then it’s to work. Maybe, I’ll see you both at noon.”

After he left Joy said, “That’s quite a relationship. They’ve been together three years and he doesn’t even know where she is.

“Bruce really does eat a lot. When he was staying at Chuck’s he’d cook huge meals. Two strips of bacon would be plenty for me. He’d put twice as much on my plate as I could eat, but between him and Chuck they finished everything left on my plate. In the morning I’d see him drinking a glass of milk then a Pepsi. I’d ask him why he was drinking that. He’d say, ‘It’s to coat my stomach.’ I can see drinking the milk, but the Pepsi?”

I asked, “How are you making out with housing?”

“I find out Wednesday. My worker is going to check with Oasis – that’s the place Bruce went yesterday – and try to find out what’s taking so long to get my identification and health card. My worker asked, ‘Do you know who you talked to at Oasis last time?’

I said, ‘No.’

‘Can you describe her?’ she asked.

‘She had an attitude and I didn’t like her.’

‘That applies to a lot of the staff over there.’

‘I can’t remember if it was a man or woman, if they were tall or short, thin or fat — they all look the same to me. I see thousands of faces each day. It’s hard to pick out just one.’ ”

A lady dropped some change into Joy’s cap. A man, one of her regulars, handed her a five dollar bill.”

“Allright!” said Joy, “Thanks!”

To me she said, “Things are looking brighter now.”

Chester stopped by. Joy held out her clenched fist to him. He held his cupped hand out. “Pennies!” said Joy. Chester pocketed the pennies and moved on.

Motioning to a woman passing, wearing a black dress Joy said, “That woman should start thinking of using a dry cleaner or getting rid of her cat. She’s covered with hair.

“That guy that handed me the five – I see him most mornings. Usually he says, “Hi!” but if he’s with his friends, he just keeps his head down.”

At noon, at the park, were Chester, Shark and Jacques. Joy had been there earlier, but Chester mentioned, “She’s having lunch, with Cathleen at Tim Horton’s.”

“Hi Jacques,” I said, “I haven’t seen you for a long time.”

“No, I’ve been at Dow’s Lake. There is always a breeze there, so even on the hottest days it is cool by the water. The cops don’t bother me there. I can drink my home-made wine and relax.

“Tomorrow they’re coming to spray for bed bugs. I have air conditioning which seems to slow them down, but I pay by the month and I don’t want to pay for September. We do get some warm days and there will be the humidity. The bed bugs will be jumping in the carpet then.

“It’s so easy to get them, they can jump onto your pant leg, you carry them home, they bury themselves in the carpet and lay eggs. Soon you have thousands of them. I wrap a towel around my pillow. Every morning I unwrap it and find one or two bed bugs. I pick them up and put them in a container.

“I’m looking for a new place. Near where I live, at Beech and Champagne, I’ve seen lots of For Rent signs. Maybe this week I’ll take a look at them. The only problem is, if I move, where am I going to make my brew. Another problem in my neighborhood is that there aren’t many convenience stores, and no wine stores. The closest is at Westgate. There’s Di Rienzo butcher shop and grocery store. They make good sandwiches, but I don’t buy my bread there, it’s too expensive. Also, they’re not open late.”

“Shark,” I asked, “are you all settled in your new apartment?”

“Almost, we’ve still got some things to rearrange. We found a plastic Mickey Mouse with his hand out. We stapled him to the kitchen wall and put our change in his hand.

“Elaine’s still at home in bed. I phoned her and asked if she was coming down. She asked, ‘Is it one o’clock yet?’ She can’t get her meds until one o’clock.”

“So, how long were you able to keep off the booze?”

“About ten minutes. I was down here last week and Shakes gave me a sip of his wine. Then I decided to get a six-pack of beer. What really did me in was the twenty-six of vodka. I’m going to pick up some beer for Irene on the way home. I don’t know who I was trying to fool. I am the way I am.”

Shark said to Jacques, “That was quite a sentence they gave to Shakes — six months probation. He won’t be able to do anything. If he spits on the sidewalk, he could get arrested. If he smokes a cigarette in the park, he could get arrested. That would be a breach on top of a breach. He’d do jail time.

“Danny was with him when he got out. A cop stopped Shakes and said, ‘I could arrest you right now.’ Shakes asked, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ The cop said, ‘You’ve been pan handling and you’ve been drinking.’ Shakes said, ‘I’m allowed to drink.’ The cop said, ‘You’re allowed to drink inside a house or a bar. You’re not allowed to drink outside.’ Shakes was ready to argue, but Danny told the cop that he was taking him to the Shepherd’s. The cop let it go.

“Friday is check day. We should have that spent by the end of the weekend. I don’t know how these people on welfare can live. They get $450. a month and the cheapest price for one room is $400. Landlords prefer to rent to students — even though they make a lot of noise — because their parents are footing the bill and they leave at the end of the school year, which means that the landlord can jack up the rent. Try to pay all your food and other expenses out of the remaining $50.”

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