Archive for December, 2006

The price is right

December 31, 2006

New pants

TONY
“You like my new pants?”

PHILIP
“Where’d you get them?”

TONY
“Cost me five bucks at Value Village. You gotta admit, the price is right.”

PHILIP
“You buy your clothes?”

TONY
“Well I needed some pants.”

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Job troubles, bone troubles and crack troubles

December 29, 2006

PHILIP
“Tony, why don’t you look for a job? One guy even put a question on the blog asking why you don’t look for a job every day. Lots of people genuinely don’t understand why you don’t. I even bet quite a few people who are sympathetic to the homeless issue have problems with the job thing.”

TONY
“OK, well, first of all, you don’t get paid for looking for a job because you’re not at your panhandling station. So how am I supposed to get food when I’m looking for a job?

“And how are folks supposed to call me when I don’t even have a phone? Well, if anyone ever finds out that I went and got a cell phone, I bet most of ’em wouldn’t give me money again. A homeless guy with his own cell phone?! You got to be kidding me. Even if someone gave it to me I’m dead in the water.

“Then there’s that I don’t even have an address. You can’t even a shower except in a shelter or sometimes when you rent a room.

“Look at the bags under my eyes. How’s someone going to hire you if you got bags under your eyes since you don’t get enough sleep?

“I’ve got a bad back, my knees are killing me and there’s my collar bone. So I can’t do stuff with lots of walking or lifting things like I used to. I used to deliver those big phone books. You should try carrying eight phone books on your shoulder going straight uphill.

“Plus my feet are real bad. I’ve got a [deep skin] crack in both of ’em now.

“Anyway, just have those folks walk in my shoes for one day. Then you’ll understand what it’s all about.”

Tony picks guys in the red light district

December 26, 2006

Red light

TONY
“I worked for my aunt back when I was younger. She was a red lighter. I just hung around until she got the guy on the blocks. Then I’d get his pants and pick ’em.”

PHILIP
“How old were you?”

TONY
“About eight I think.”

Red lights

From Tony’s cold case files

December 24, 2006

Tony describes a case

TONY
“I’ve got this regular, she comes by most days. Now this one’s a real case. It’s always the same thing. Maybe she’s got a thing for me. Anyway, she’s goes on about how I should take better care of myself like I should go to the shelters, I should get the free meals at places they have for homeless folks — she doesn’t stop. Then she tells me that there’s a nice soup kitchen up at Eglinton [approx. 5 miles away]. Of course, for her it’s not too far but I’ve only got my bike. Anyway, I’ve told her a hundred times that they won’t feed me there anyway since I’m not from the area. So then she starts going on about how I’ve got stuff to be thankful for anyway, since I’ve got my health and that kind of stuff. Anyway she goes on like that for an hour and then she goes up the street and she hardly ever leaves me anything. She’s pretty unbelievable.”

________
PS: Per our posting on Dec. 20th for those wishing to give money to Tony, bank accounts have now been opened at Scotiabank. Particulars will be available here next week, once the branches have been notified, etc. The intent is to enable anyone in Canada to securely and transparently give money to Tony and/or to registered charities that are focussed on homelessness. Given the season, all of this is taking a bit longer than normal. Thanks for your interest and support.

Mom and Dad

December 22, 2006

PHILIP
“How much older was your Dad than you were ?”

TONY
“I don’t know.”

PHILIP
“You mean you don’t know how much older your Dad was than you?”

TONY
“No.”

PHILIP
“How about your Mom?”

TONY
“No idea, believe it or not.”

PHILIP
“Didn’t you live with your parents when you were growing up?”

TONY
“Pretty much.”

Page A3 of today’s Globe and Mail

December 20, 2006

PHILIP
The web address is: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061220.wxhomeless20/BNStory/National/home

For those asking how to get a monetary gift to Tony (other than by seeing him personally, which would be great), I will post an answer this week. I have contacted a Bay Street law firm to aid in ensuring that the gift handling process is secure and transparent (and is done on a pro bono basis). As soon as this is settled, you’ll be among the very first to know.

In Oct., when we launched HomelessManSpeaks.com, our mission was to change the widespread and often-not-fully-thought-through misconceptions about the homeless, and about marginalized people as a whole.

In solid, well-controlled studies done in the last 75 yrs, science has established that personal, human, visceral identification with another is the only reliable means of achieving attitude change.  And that’s what we’re up to, thanks to the Web. Please help change the world.

Thank you.

An old hand who can get a warm body in the sack

December 16, 2006

Old hand

TONY
“You’d think a guy who’s been on the street would know the tricks. Nope — I ran into this homeless guy who was going on about sleeping out when it was cold. So I asked him if he knew the trick about how to stay warm. Well, he doesn’t, so I tell him he should keep a quarter [$0.25] until he’s done for the night. Then he should take his sleeping bag to the laundromat and put it in the dryer for a few minutes. When it comes out, he should roll it up really tight. Then when he gets inside, it’s all toasty and warm and he gets a warm start to the night. He’d been on the street longer than me but he learned that trick from Tony.”

Standing up

December 13, 2006

Tony standing up

TONY
“Do you see the guy panhandling just on the corner [Tony points south, across the street]? The young blond guy with the beard. I asked him and he said that he’s got a pregnant wife and they were kicked out of the hostel the other day. Well, I checked him out and he checks out. I’ve seen his wife and she’s sure pregnant. If he wasn’t being straight up, I would’ve run him out of here. But if the guy’s for real, then you’ve got to let him be. Everybody’s got a right to eat.

“See, people don’t realize it but homeless folks need to keep up their reputations or otherwise no one ain’t getting nothing from nobody, if there’s fakes out there asking for money. If they ain’t for real, they shouldn’t be there.”

Tony goes wireless

December 11, 2006

TONY
“I met a homeless guy yesterday. I’d seen him before but I didn’t know he was homeless. He’s a nice guy so I told him that there was lots of wire in the alleyway [Tony points towards the alleyway nearby]. So he says that he’ll get me a bike rack in exchange for the wire.”

PHILIP
“How did you know he was looking for some wire?”

TONY
“Well, his shopping cart was full of wire.”

I should have been my sister

December 8, 2006

Tony remembering the days of ironing

TONY
“My mom would always say that my sister should have been me [Tony] and I should have been her [Tony’s sister]. I could do the chores better than she did.

“I’ll give you a funny example. Back in the days, instead of my wife doing the ironing, it would be me. See, she [Tony’s wife] learned that I could iron pants better, so they would have a good crease. You just got to have a dish towel and some brown paper. You fold the brown paper tight where the crease is and then you wet down the dish towel a bit. Then you put the towel over the paper and iron it and the pants come out perfect. Once my mom said you could almost cut butter with one of my creases.”

The benefit of vice

December 6, 2006

TONY
“There’s this guy who comes by at night sometimes. Sometimes he hands me a pack of smokes, they’re Matinees. Turns out he isn’t allowed to smoke at home, so the woman who lives upstairs goes and follows him whenever he gets caught. Then the guy pretends he’s just bringing me a pack, so there won’t be any trouble.”

Under the sheltering sky

December 4, 2006

PHILIP
“When it gets cold like last night [-5 C], do you go to a sleeping shelter if you can’t get a bed?”

TONY
“Never. Don’t use them. They’re too dangerous.

“People think shelters are safe places because it’s the city that runs them. But they’re not. When the politicians do their visits to check how the shelters are, everyone on the inside knows they’re coming. They clean the place up nice and everyone is on their good behaviour. I’ll sleep outside if I can’t get a good bed.”

The invisible man

December 1, 2006

Tony’s not here

PHILIP
Tony isn’t here this morning.

It’s Buster Keaton weather — but colder. No doubt, umbrella vendors are delighting in visions of pedestrians dancing convexxedly with their soon-to-be mangles of nylon and aluminium.

I don’t know where Tony is; probably no one does. The morning weather might have kept him where he slept last night. Perhaps not. I’ve seen Tony at his post in the deepfreeze of mid-winter.

Sidewalk traffic is sparse and hurried. Given today’s inclement weather, Tony would be hard-put to collect enough for a warm bed. When I next see him, I’ll ask him about the irony.

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