August 12, 2011

Blew My Money On Booze . . . Almost (Day 21 - August 12, 2011)

It sounds cliche and stereotypical to say that a homeless guy spent all of his money on liquor.  Well, if I had my way, I would have done so last night.  I scrounged around for every cent I had . . . laid it out on my sleeping bag to count it . . . $14.91.   I put it all in my pocket, put on my shoes, grabbed my cap, and was just unzipping the tent when it started pouring down rain.  It's about a 10 minute walk to the nearest pub, and for a few seconds I considered making the trek in the downpour . . . and then thought better of it.

It's not that I needed a drink.  If that were the case then I would have made a beeline, rain or no rain, to the nearest liquor store (also about 10 minutes away) and bought a 6-pack. No, it wasn't about alcohol.

It was about doing something that "regular" people are doing.  It was about socializing . . . being amongst people as their equal.  It was about catching some of the football game on television.  It was about relaxing and giving my mind a break.  It was about sipping a beer on a summer evening because that is something I enjoy.  And, it was important enough at the time that I was prepared to pay everything I had.  The only good thing about not going was that I hear my Eskimos got their butt kicked.

I think my learning here is that we cannot just label people based upon what we see.  No doubt there are people homeless on the streets that have a problem with alcohol and spend every cent they have feeding their addiction.  However, even those people have a much more complex story to tell.  Did the drinking start before or after they ended up on the street?  Whenever it started, what else was going on for them . . . were they self-medicating to cover another problem - perhaps sexual abuse as a child, anxiety disorder, or something else?   Just as you might have guessed wrong about my reasons for wanting to go to the pub, we must recognize there are many factors behind what people do.   And, while we may not always agree with their choices, it doesn't mean that these people don't need some help.  Very few choose a life on the street, and no one wants to be addicted. 

What can we do?  We can (i) support organizations and people who are working with those on the street to get them the help they need; AND (ii) encourage our communities and leaders to implement programs to catch people before they land on the street.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.


  1. So, while the rain kept you inside the tent...I could see how attractive it would be to get out of the rain for a homeless person. What options are there to get out of the rain on a Thursday night? Gets me thinking. I know I don't mind getting soaked from the rain when it is easy to change into dry clothes and warm up with a bath or hot chocolate. But I will go out of my way to stay warm and dry if I'm not able to change soon.

  2. Underpasses, bars, tarps, alleyways . . . all not ideal options to stay warm and dry.