Ever spend time around the bitter end of Vancouver? Not sure? Need a reference?
The misery oozes along Hastings St. which seems to be the main artery. You've no doubt seen miserable cretans pushing East Van Taxis through alleys filled with bottles, metal scrap, clothes and whatever else. The taxi wheel's clacking muffled only by the stolen shopping cart's metal frame protesting under weight.
Waaaaaaay back in 1867, Hastings Mill, started by the Englishman Edward Stamp at the foot of Dunlevy St. was more than an early settlement so I've read. It was in effect a company town. People shopped at the Hastings Mill Store and sent their children to the Hastings Mill School, milled about and innocently played. All seemed well.
Turns out that good jobs bring good money which in turn brings alcohol, bawdy houses, and lousy dives to sleep it off in. Did you know that Early Vancouver was Opium rich?
Lots has changed in Vancouver...but some of these skid row attitudes and rooms still exist today in all their pungent, miserable glory right under the nose of our Mayor and Premier.
A little nugget for free: The term skid road originally referred to the path along which timber workers skidded logs. It is said that the area's seedy origins date back to the early concentration of saloons in pre-Canadian Prohibition (1915–1919) and its popularity with loggers, miners and fishermen whose work was seasonal and who spent their salaries in the area's cheap accommodations and public houses. The infection of "nastiness" spreads tightly along Hastings East to Clark St. West to Carral St. and a few bitter blocks either East or West to this day!
This area, known as the Downtown East Side (DTES) is the poorest urban area in Canada. Yep...you read that right! Smack dab in the RICHEST part of our Province we have this kind of misery!
There is unfortunately a market for everything down here. Do you know that the youngest prostitute "rescued" from a shitty area called Lowtrack was only12 years old? Yeah...I heard of her during my first year working in group homes in 1990. The oldest was 67 for the sake of balance...
So why dear reader am I telling you these less than uplifting stories?
The truth is that I'm ashamed that I haven't done more over the years. I can't share details about my shift tonight at the Grouphome but it wasn't pretty to say the least and the this evening and my typical work week started me thinking.
Do you reaize that you needn't start out as a pathetic, stinking, lying, stealing, sickly zombie of a human to get hooked on dope?
Nope...truth is, it could happen to YOU right now! I've yet to meet a junkie who's life's dream was to become a junkie whos living half hour to half hour. None of those pathetic creatures studied up on how to become zombie.
I see it first hand birthing in teen-age kids! It frightens me. It crushes my heart!
Why did I decide to post this?
Tonight at a gas station after midnight, I asked the attendant in the clostrophobic booth who appeared older than I "how is your night? How is your shift?"
"I work to feed my family. I do what I must do."
All this to suggest that before you ridicule or pity the non-white dude at the local 7-11 or gas station you visit and stagger into after a night out on the tiles or your own job, understand that he/she may be doing this crap job that you'd never do in order to suport their family amd keep their kids off of Skid Row.