Thursday, May 23, 2013

Six Degrees Of Separation

I am known to be a soft touch,especially to people who are down on their luck.
The other day a young couple, who would best be described as street people,approached me in my cab. Their story was that they were trying to get their dog out of the pound,so they were going around town, trying to raise cash. The girl was crying,fearing that if they were not able to put enough money together,the dog would be put up for adoption or worse.
I of course felt bad for them,and I gave them $10.00 towards the $90.00 they needed to spring Fido. They were very grateful, and later that day I heard that they were able to raise enough money to get the dog out. I also heard that they got a basement apartment and were able to move out of the rundown motel that they were living in. I was pleased to hear that things were coming together for them.

Today as I sat in my usual spot at a plaza waiting to get a dispatch,a buddy of mine walked over to me.The first thing I noticed was  his best friend- an old golden retriever-was not with him. He was also limping and his right hand was covered in wounds. I asked him what happened,he told me a new couple had moved in next door,and that they had a Pit Bull.
The Pit Bull had attacked his dog and was ripping it apart,when he stepped in and tried to save it. My friend ended up with numerous puncture wounds to his hands-and torn muscles  in his leg,from kicking the pit,in an attempt to get it to release his dog. When he was finally able to get his dog free,they were both covered in blood. He rushed the dog to an emergency vet, where after hundreds of stitches they were able to save it. The vet bill was $3,000 which my friend had to borrow to save his gentle friend.

As you may have guessed by now,the people who moved in next door to my friend,are the same people, who had the day before, asked me for money to help get their dog out of the pound. And yes their dog was the Pit Bull, that ripped my buddies best friend apart.
I felt absolutely terrible about this whole situation,and no I didn't have the courage to tell my friend that I knew these people,nor that I contributed to getting their dog released from the pound.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I picked up a young guy today at a government housing project. He was heading 20 minutes north to Colburne. (I have changed the towns name and the guys name,to protect his privacy) He was going up to the Provincial Police station there,to be fingerprinted.As he had been previously  released from custody, with a promise to appear.  It is a fifty dollar run each way,and he wanted me to wait,so it was a good fare.
Being as inquisitive as I am (ok just plain nosey) I asked him what he had done, that required him to be printed. Apparently he had been involved in some B & E's and was in possession of some cocaine. He told me it was all pretty dramatic,with the cop's kicking his buddy's door in and having their guns out.
There is not a lot of crime up this way,so I can only assume the cop's love a little action, when they can get it,or maybe even when they can  create it.
As we drove north, I looked over at this kid, something about him looked familiar. I asked him his name and he told me it was Lance. I asked him if he had lived at the address where I picked him up,for a long time? Born and raised he said. He had also just turned 18 a few days ago,and that tied in,because  this is my 18th year driving cab in town. Suddenly it kicked in, the memory of a mouthy little kid,with a  mop of curly blonde hair and an unusual name.I recall he stood out among the other kids in the complex,and unfortunately not in a good way.
So here he was all these years later,and in trouble with the law.I asked him if he was using legal aid,in order to get a lawyer. No he replied,"I have a lawyer,and I gave him three grand up front. "
Wow I said,"thats a lot of coin little brother." No sweat he said,"I have more money then I know what to do with." He did pull out quite a wad of cash,when it came time to pay me. Alas the only people I know, who carry that kind of cash around,are dealers. When I think back, to what this kid was like when he was young, it was all so predictable.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I picked up a young lady yesterday,who was on her way to the court house, for an appointment with her probation officer. During her brief ride in my cab,I learned quite a bit about her life.
I asked her what she had done, that resulted in her having to see a probation officer.
Transportation fraud she replied, She had taken a cab from the city, and when they arrived in town here, $140.00 later,she realized that she did not have her bank card nor any cash. I laughed at the irony and asked if she had enough money for this trip,no problem she replied, waving a fist full of cash over the front seat.
Wow I said looking at the wad of cash,"you must have a good job". What do you do for a living I asked her? I am a dancer she replied,as in a stripper I asked?"yes I work at a very popular bar in the city" she replied."But I am having a rough time lately,in the past month I overdosed on cocaine,and was rushed to the hospital,I almost died." "So I am trying to stay clean,but it is not easy". I don't doubt that,I told her.How old are you I asked? 22 she replied, God I thought, so young, and such a degrading job,probably the reason for using cocaine.
She went on to tell me that she worked in the V.I.P. section of the bar,and also did some back room specials for $120.00. She seemed really proud of that,and was pissed off, when in her words, minorities who worked there, came in and under cut her,doing the special's for only $40.00.
What do your parents think of all this I asked her? "Oh they disowned me a few years ago" she replied.
How sad I thought,thinking of my own daughter,who not much older then this girl,is working on her masters degree at university. Maybe if her parents had not given up on her so early,the path she chose may have been different. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"A Cry For Help"

 The dispatcher radioed that there was a request for me to pick up at a local restaurant this afternoon. I often get  requests during the week from different people,so I had no idea who I was picking up.
When I arrived it turned out to be an old buddy of mine,a fellow I met when I first moved to town,some 20 odd years ago.
I usually run into Jake(not his real name) while sitting in the plaza waiting for a dispatch,he wanders over with his best four legged friend "Charlie" and we shoot the breeze for a while. Jake is on permanent disability,he suffers from seizures,the results of a street fight with 5  young punks about six years ago now.
Jake, like a lot of us, has had a pretty rough life,seven years of it, in and out of jail. But that and an addiction problem are long past . He has played it straight for several years now. Still a tough looking dude with a lot of ink,he is in his forties now and a pretty mellow guy,one that would give you the shirt off his back.
As he got in my cab today,I realized I hadn't seen him for a week or so,I asked him where he had been.
He told me he had just been released from the psychiatric ward in a city hospital. He had attempted suicide a few days ago,ingesting a 150 prescription pills. He was found by his landlord laying unconscious  on his kitchen floor. He was in a coma for two days,and at one point the doctors apparently thought they had lost him. Thankfully that was not the case.

Jakes attempt at ending his life shook me to the core.Here is a friend that I see almost everyday,some one that over the years has shared his life story with me , as I have shared mine with him. But I never saw this coming.I knew he struggled at times with living alone and not being able to work,but I obviously never saw the depth of his emotional pain.
When I asked him today why he had done it,his reply was that "he couldn't take it anymore".Life had beaten him down and "he was unable to get any help". Professional help in the form of psychiatric care or even properly trained mental health therapists, is sorely lacking in this town. 
Jake is now under a psychiatrists care ,and it appears that he will finally be getting the help he needs, but having come close to losing his life in order to get it is appalling! 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"I'm sixteen and can do what I want"

Last evening I was dispatched not to an address, but the intersection of two dirt roads out in the country.
I am not fond of these type of dispatches-because with no actual address its a crap shoot whether there will actually be anybody there. But there she was a young girl standing on the side of an open field-cell phone in hand.
 She jumped in the back blurted out an address in town,and continued a rapid fire conversation on her cell with what I assume was one of her girlfriends.Talking away on her phone-like most teenagers do-like she was the only one in the car,nothing subtle with kids,
I usually turn a deaf ear to babbling teenagers engaged in conversation-but this one caught my attention.
She had just had an argument with her Mom about her skipping classes. Her failing grades at school and her failure to do any chores while her Mom was away on business for two days.From what she was saying I guessed  this argument ensued in the kitchen and her Mother had thrown and broken a glass on the floor.I assume out of sheer frustration.

 The girl continued on with a taunting tone about how she had run up to her room.Made up her bed like she was under the covers and then slipped out the back door to call a cab.
"I would love to see my Mom's face when she realizes I 'm gone" she exclaimed to her friend. "My Mom's a fucking psychopath- throwing a glass like that." "I'm sixteen and can do what I want-there is nothing they can do about it it" she went on.She was apparently going to couch-surf now for the rest of the week- end and maybe even stay away for a week.I cringed at the thought of her poor parents not knowing where she was.I was going to suggest to her that what she was doing was not the brightest idea.But I doubted she would be much interested in another opinion from an adult-so I kept quiet.
As I dropped her off at her friends house and drove away,I kept thinking about what she had said about her failing grades an skipping so many classes,and her problems at home.God I thought ,sixteen years old,she is still just a baby in the scheme of things.What will her life be like as she reached maturity I wondered.I consoled my-self with the thought that this was probably just her time of teen age rebellion.I hope so-we have enough lost teenagers living on the street.  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Walking The Walk-Rather Then Just Talking The Talk.''

Today I was dispatched to pick -up at one of our  seniors residences. On arrival I saw two personal support workers{P.S.W} standing by a very elderly woman in a wheel chair.Of course my first reaction was "oh great this is going to be a time consuming pain in the ass".(A piss poor attitude from the get go.)
 One of the psw's opened my passenger door and told me "we have to get the lady in".You have to get her in, not me, I replied.Furthermore I told her we have a wheel chair van available and that's what you should have booked.The psw claimed she wasn't aware of that-and asked if we could give it a go with my car.
 Go ahead I mumbled, as I engaged myself in a rather juvenile "shit fit".I sat there fuming as they struggled with this poor woman-who had to weigh all of ninety pounds.I turned the meter on as they jostled her around, trying to figure out the best way to get her in the car.Christ almighty I thought-and "these two, do this for a living!"Mean while the old woman was having a shit fit of her own.She was shaking like a leaf and voicing in no uncertain terms her lack of confidence in the two psws ability to get her into the cab, in one piece.(so that made two of us)
 When they did finally manage to get her in,she was pretty much horizontal across my front seat.I managed to get her vertical enough -and thus off my lap-to get her seat belt fastened.I then put her wheel chair in the trunk, tied the lid down-and we were off.As we drove I asked the psws "what in God's name was this visibly fragile woman doing going out".She has a dentist appointment at the mall-came the reply.
 Apparently she had not been out of bed for a year-the dental visit was an urgent matter.As we continued on towards the mall-I started to have a case of the guilt's.I was thinking about all the times I preached the golden rule to my friends."No one gives a shit about anyone other then them selves" I can also often be heard lamenting.
 I thought of my late mother-fragile herself in her last years.What would she think if she saw how I treated this old woman- with such impatience and indifference.I was feeling rather ashamed of my behaviour as we pulled into the mall.
 Wanting to rectify this-I told the psw's to leave the lady-and that I would get her out, and into her chair.
I took on a completely different attitude as I opened her door."Listen darl'in" I told her, "I am a big strong guy and I want you to just put your arms around my neck-like you were giving me a big hug".'Well you do look strong she replied"-''you won't let me fall will you?"Not a chance I told her-"I will hold on to you like it was our last dance"! This made her smile as she reached out and timidly put her arms around me.I gently lifted her up-she panicked a little-and I reassured her that she was safe in my arms.I slowly got her turned around and was able to get her comfortably into her wheel chair.
 As the psw's  prepared to wheel her into the mall-I told them that if the wheel chair van was not available when they were ready to go back-to just ask for me and I would come back for them.Which I ended up doing a couple of hours later.With a little attitude adjustment I was back "treating people the way I would want them to treat me".

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Domestic Violence

I just had the unfortunate experience of overhearing a domestic in the apartment directly across the hall from mine.If it had been just a case of two adults yelling at each other,I would probably not have gotten involved. But upon hearing the voice of a child screaming for someone with a phone,I bolted from my chair.I opened my apartment door to see a little boy about five or six years of age.He was hysterical, crying and asking if I had a phone.A female about 25 was standing with him.I asked what was going on-she replied that her male partner had struck her-and she had struck him back.The male was heading out of the hallway down the stairs at this point.The little boy kept yelling to me that the man was bleeding.I asked the woman if indeed that was the case,she replied yes,he is bleeding from the head.I called the police who thankfully, arrived with-in minutes of my call.
  Everyone concerned was taken in by the officers,and I don't believe the male party was seriously injured.But what a horrible situation for a child to witness.I found myself unduly shaken by this incident.It no doubt triggered some memories of my own dysfunctional childhood.
I share this incident because no where near enough is being done to address domestic violence.
We have in this town a women's shelter-but no avenue of help for the men involved.Locking them up in jail and forcing them to take an anger management course is not the whole answer.This course of action-from my own personal experience in talking to men who have been involved in domestic violence-is rarely effective.
What in my opinion is needed, is a shelter of some kind, where these men, prone to violence,can get professional help.Whether it be court ordered or a voluntary admission.This very dangerous issue of domestic violence must be addressed.Not just at the punitive level-but also at a therapeutic level.These men are acting out this way for a reason.We as a society owe it to our children to delve deeper into this issue.