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RRBC Interview, Eyes on the Book hosted by Rox Burkey https://buff.ly/2OJjaKx

 

5 March 2012

The sun is shining, the temperature is minus fourteen degrees Celsius (seven degrees Fahrenheit), with a wind of twenty-four kilometers per hour (fifteen miles per hour). It feels cold. I have a scarf over my face to protect from the cold breeze. I see Ian and Hippo standing near the benches at Orphan’s Green. Ian looks at his watch, joking that I always arrive at the same time, 12:10 pm and leave at the same time, 12:50. He could set his watch by me.

I said, “It’s okay, I have an appointment. Am I late?” Ian and Hippo laughed.

Two men Spike and Brent came and shook hands with everyone. “Spike, you’re looking great!” said Ian. He was freshly shaved, He took off his cap to show his fresh haircut. He was wearing a red jacket.

“I’ve got a meeting to go to. When it comes time for ‘panning’ I’ll put my panhandling clothes on.” They left.

“I gave Spike that jacket,” said Hippo, “I wish I had it now.”

I asked if they had seen anybody else today.

“I saw Chester at the Salvation Army for breakfast this morning. We had bacon, eggs, and home fries. I’ve been staying there for the past week, but I hate it. I’m staying tonight because I get my P.N.A. (Personal Needs Allowance) check tomorrow. If I stay there for a full week they give me a  check for twenty-eight dollars. I hate it there. Everyone is all cracked out. Things get stolen. Last night I just stepped out back to have a drink and a guy tried to stab me with a knife. It sliced the whole sleeve of my outside jacket and a three-inch cut on my inside jacket (he showed me the cut on the outside of his sleeve). Luckily, it didn’t reach my skin.”

“How did the fight start?”

“I don’t know. The guy was crazy in the head, but I took care of him, biff! bam! pow!. That was the end of it.

“What place do you prefer, The Salvation Army, The Good Shepherd, or The Mission?”

“I don’t know about The Mission since I’ve been barred. The Shepherd has the best food.”

Ian said, “I don’t eat the food at The Shepherd, they serve too many carrots. Sometimes I’ll get a plate for Marlena and take it outside since they only allow women at certain times. It is a men’s shelter. I’d prefer to panhandle and buy my own food.”

“When did they start calling you Hippo?”

“I think It was Joy who first started calling me Hippo. Before that, they used to call me Farm Boy. My name is actually Nathan. I’m from Oshawa. Those were the days when Rip, Tim and Hobo were still around. They were old guys. They’re dead now.

“I’m waiting on an inheritance from my grandma. She passed away. When I get the money, I’m heading to British Columbia — Vernon, Salmon Arm area. I got a call from my old boss. He said my old job is waiting for me, driving a big grapple skidder for hauling logs out of the bush. The tires are this high (he reached above his head). If you look in Facebook I have some pictures posted of the equipment I’ve run. It’s great to be out in the bush. I’m by myself, the cab is heated and air-conditioned, with a CD system. I get twenty-nine dollars an hour.”

~~~

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