Day 1 – December 23, 2010 – Jim

Start from the beginning

As I was walking down Granville Street, I met a man named Jim.  He was panhandling on the side of the street.  I asked him if it was OK for me to join him.  I sat down and started talking to him.  He was not very comfortable with me asking him questions.  So I started to sit next to him in silence instead.  After a few minutes, he started asking me questions.  I told him my story.  I wanted to spend Christmas with the other side of my family, the side that I have neglected for much too long.

I asked Jim to give me some street survival tips.  He told me not to steal.  That is some solid advice.   I kept bombarding him with more questions.  I asked him what time the Union Gospel Mission will serve food.  He replied with 6:30 pm.

Jim was starting to receive money; each person was dropping a minimum of two dollars into his cup.  An elderly lady reached into her pocket only to find a chocolate candy.  She gave him the candy with a smile.  Jim wasn’t too pleased with that offer; he wanted money to feed his unfortunate habit.

After half an hour, I thanked Jim for allowing me to sit next to him and continued on my journey.  I started walking north of Granville Street.  A few minutes later, Jim caught up to me.  He told me that he lived across the street from the Union Gospel Mission.   I asked him if he could show me where it is and how to get there.

We decided to take the bus together.  This is where my bus fare ticket came into play.  As we were riding the bus down Hastings, Jim asked me if I had wanted to come over to his place.  I gladly accepted his offer.  I replied saying “I will go anywhere I am welcome”.  He said that he had no TV or other forms of entertainment.  Those things didn’t matter to me since I haven’t watched TV for over two years now.  My form of entertainment is life.

As we got off the bus on Main and Hastings, which is known as “the worst part of Vancouver”, Jim walked around asking for drugs and cigarettes with the money he collected from panhandling.  I felt a bit uneasy at this point.  Well, most of my friends and family have their mind made up about this place without ever having set foot here.  The consensus was that the downtown Eastside was dangerous and that you will get mugged, stabbed, beaten, or shot if you hang out here.  The media’s perception on this area surely did not help either.

Once he finished purchasing his needs, he tried to invite me into his place. However, I was not allowed to enter.  The manager there said that they did not allow any visitors into the building.  Jim told me to stop by his place tomorrow morning and ask for him.  I made myself a new friend.


6 responses to “Day 1 – December 23, 2010 – Jim

  1. Thank you for honest and brave account of living homeless on the DTES… i look forward to more installments of your blog and the Ubyssey story as well.


  2. I’m following this and I like what you’re doing. I’ve been looking for a good insight at the lives of the homeless right here in Vancouver, a place so close where the issue simmers so quietly. Curious to see where your write-up will go.

  3. Peter, the Ubyssey story can be found here:

    Chris, my experience has changed my life in a very positive way. I will try my best to write a post every few days. There is a lot of information to transcribe from my hand-written notes to the computer.

  4. How would you like it if someone befriended you and came into your home and wrote about it when you were having hard times? Would that be ok? How are you helping people with this?

  5. Anon, I highly respect every situation people are living in. That is actually the basis of this entire journal. It is not easy to be on the streets and it sometimes is not easy being in a home. This journal is a narrative collection of people I have met throughout my journey.
    I asked all of the people I interviewed whether it is OK to use their names, and if it’s OK for me to take a picture of them. My intention is not to belittle anybody in this world, it is actually quite the opposite. If you continue reading my journal, you will see that my experiences end up in something very positive.

  6. Hi,
    I’ve been reading all your entries so far. I don’t know how I got here, but I’m enjoying the journey. I’ve oftened wondered what homeless people are going through, and I’m finding your adventure very interesting and enlightening.

    I also like how you said you don’t watch tv and your form of entertainment is life. I tried to give up tv, and cancelled my cable but they still have 10 channels on and what can I say… I’m weak.

    Looking forward to reading more.

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