Archive for the 'bad choices' Category

Death and menace

March 11, 2007

The jailed bard

TONY (written while he was in jail)
“Forget the loneliness, here in jail, all you hear about is how someone is going to kill the guy who put him in here, and that’s the only thing you hear all day, everyday. I go to the chapel when I can but it still doesn’t help the loneliness or anything else.

“To me, I feel like I’m wasting other people’s time and letting them down. I need to talk to someone so I don’t feel like I’m always going crazy, with all this talk of killing people all around me.

Jail is all about death and I feel like I’m dying myself too.”

Tony’s story — Part #2

February 19, 2007

“I took everything I could get my hands on …”

TONY (written while he was in jail)
“See, when I was growing up [ages 5-7], we had what people call a soup line. Kids and parents were lined up for blocks and when I say blocks, I mean 10-12 blocks, literally. We had to have stamps for bread: 1/2 a stamp for a loaf and one stamp for so-called butter, which was really lard).

“Me and the crew would steal food from the navy to feed my family and crew. There was five kids in my crew: Pete (the milk man), Dave (the meat man), Jimmy (the pick pocket), Larry (the clothing man) and me, Tony. I didn’t have a specialty; I took everything I could get my hands on. If I could sell it, I took it.”

You always remember the first time

February 6, 2007

311 Jarvis, Toronto

PHILIP
“What’s the first time you were arrested?”

TONY
“I got caught stealing from the candy store.”

PHILIP
“How old were you?”

TONY
“Seven.”

PHILIP
“So what happened?”

TONY
“They took me home to my mom and she decided that I’d better learn my lesson about stealing. So they took me down to 311 Jarvis for five days.

“I can tell you, I stayed pretty clean for a while after that.”

7UP + $0.02 = domino theory (circa 1965)

February 2, 2007

7UP (circa 1951)

TONY
“I got arrested when I was 17 for taking 7UP from a 7UP truck, which was actually the second time I did it.

“I’ll tell you about the first time, which we didn’t get caught for. I was 16 and a bunch of us went up to the old 7UP factory on Christie one night. We emptied out the whole side of a 45-foot long delivery truck. So, right when we were taking the last case, the truck got so lopsided that it just kind of leaned over, right onto the truck beside it. Before you knew it, it was like a a bunch of dominoes, with our truck being the first domino.”

PHILIP
“What did you do with all the 7UP ?”

TONY
“We drank most of it. Other than that, we just poured it out.”

PHILIP
“You did this for kicks?”

TONY
“Actually, we did it mostly to get money. Back then, they would give you two cents for every bottle you returned.”

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.”

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.”

Breakfast vs. a bed for the night

November 20, 2006

TONY — 6pm/-1 C
“If I knew how cold it was going to be, I wouldn’t have had breakfast.”

Letter to the editor of the Globe and Mail

November 3, 2006

PHILIP
My letter to the editor published today in the Globe and Mail was triggered by the eye-popping irrationality of yesterday’s Facts & Arguments essay. In summary, the offending essay observes that homeless people are the unhappy product of their own “choices”, and that a proportion of homeless people sometimes spend their hard-begged money to buy themselves fancy lattes. The author declares: “Whether right or wrong, misinformed or wishful, this is the inescapable conclusion that keeps me, and many others as well, walking right past those cardboard “Spare Change? Need Food” signs without a second thought.”

Is moral blindness a choice?

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