Eh-Eh Meetings

Among the many things people don’t understand about my homelessness is my reluctance to meet. Here is some context, in the most simple terms.

I am in dire need of financial help. That is an unavoidable truth of my circumstances. It’s impolite to mention. It’s unfriendly to address. On the basis of civility and social grace, that’s hard to argue with.

This puts me in a position. Meeting someone, I have two options. I can suppress the reality of my life — the crisis I live with every day — for the sake of another’s feelings, or I can put my hand out in a plea for help. I don’t like those options. It ‘others’ me — to myself — in real time, for the length of the meeting, and beyond.

Furthermore, there is no version of that scene which does not turn me into a spectacle, a performing monkey. I expect that’s not an uncommon experience for a lot of people who live in situations they’re unhappy with. For a homeless person, for me, being forced to deny my reality for the sake of another’s sense of propriety is hard. Life in desperate poverty is not a normal life, it doesn’t conform to your whims, expectations, or morality.

It’s not that I don’t like meeting new people, old friends. I mean, come on. I love having conversations about world events, movies, TV, and whatnot. I hate asking people for money. It’s simply my life is an ongoing crisis. Action is what’s needed. Support. Resources.

The life of any homeless person has an unseen river of bullshit running through it. That’s before the normal personal bullshit, the day to day regular bullshit everyone deals with. And we are coping with this all while in a crisis we are blamed for, stigmatized for, and expected to deal with using the power of positive thinking. We might as well be aliens, we are so far away from normal in our experiences.

Over the years, homeless, in public spaces in downtown Toronto, I have had many opportunities to engage with celebrities and people of note. I’ve never taken the opportunity. In these circumstances, why would I? For a story? A ‘life experience?’ Here I will emphasize that this is about the context, the circumstances of my life. When you’re sleeping on the street, getting a selfie with a celebrity is a fundamentally demeaning experience.

There’s a temptation to close this with the phrase made famous by the movie, ‘Jerry Maguire.’ It is crass for me to even consider writing that. Nevertheless, I’m leaving it in.