Gilles – Part III – McDonald’s
Don preferred to rent out his apartments to international students because they were often naive and didn’t know Canadian laws or regulations. He would accuse the students for not paying their rent, even though they had already paid their monthly share. If they weren’t willing to pay rent twice a month, he would threaten them with eviction.
There are three reasons why this scheme worked without any hassle. Young students tend to be more timid and passive; therefore they would not object to such an accusation. Furthermore, these international students did not want any trouble. They just wanted to finish their degree; so they were willing to pay double the rent for a few months, if they had to. These students were fully aware of being swindled by their landlord.
Some of the students started to complain directly to Gilles. Knowing about this scam and what kind of person Don was, Gilles voiced his opinion to Don. He demanded Don to pay back these students. This was a regular occurrence with many complaints coming from the building. Don’s greed and gambling addiction was fueled in part by these unfair practices.
One of these students rebelled when Don accused him for not paying rent. This student decided to write about Don all along the sidewalk of the building. Armed with chalk, he wrote about the type of person Don really was. As a temporary fix, Gilles advised these students not to pay rent for the last month, so that they could break even with their payments.
Don frequently gambled away his tenant’s deposit money. There was a time when he promised a student that he would pay him back his deposit money on the last day the student was here in Canada. But as he was leaving for the airport, Don did not fulfill his promise and the student chose to catch his flight rather than getting back his deposit money. Don would never heard of him again.
For a while, Don tried to turn Gilles into his money-making-machine. Here is how his other scam played out; when a new tenant agreed to move in, Gilles would collect the first month’s rent and deposit. When the tenant arrived to get the keys, Don would look at the tenant and say “I don’t know who you are; I have never seen you here before.” These people would refer to Gilles, but Don would pretend that he didn’t even know him.
These tenants would then call Gilles to complain. This aggravated Gilles because he did not want to be part of this scam. Therefore, Gilles would spend a long time trying to get some of their money back from Don. Gilles was too smart for Don’s games. As time went by, Don became increasingly annoyed of Gilles. So it was time for Don to try to get rid of Gilles once and for all.
Gilles claimed that Don tried to evict him in the following way. The next story is about a Saudi man named Mohammad who had to go back to Saudi Arabia for some business. Mohammad left Gilles with his keys, so that Gilles could check up on his apartment and car. One day Gilles checked up on Mohammad’s belongings. A few hours after checking Mohammad’s room, Gilles was confronted by the Vancouver Police Department. He was being charged with “Breaking & Entering” into Mohammad’s apartment. “But he gave me his key!” said Gilles. The police officers did not believe him and accused Gilles of stealing from Mohammad.
Gilles told the officers that he can call Mohammad in Saudi Arabia to immediately clear up this case. The officers felt that they were being lied to. Before Gilles called Mohammad, he told the officers that it was 3 AM in Saudi Arabia and that he was probably sleeping. Therefore, “he may not pick up his phone,” said Gilles. He called. No answer. Now the cops accused Gilles of lying as well. A month passed and when Mohammad returned from his trip, he went straight to the police station to clear up this entire misunderstanding.
One day when Gilles came home, his key could not open his own door! Don had changed the lock to his door. To make matters even worse, all of Gilles furniture was taken from his apartment and redistributed to other apartments. Gilles would never see his furniture again.
So without any of his belongings, he complained to the Police. The Police responded with “do you have a receipt for your furniture?” When he told the officers that his furniture was redistributed throughout the building, the officers stared at him in disbelief. The Police told him that he was out of luck and that he would not get any of his possessions back. In fact, as I sat there talking to him, seven months had passed since he’d been tossed out onto the streets by Don. He did get some of his personal belongings back five days ago, but he was not able to recover any of his furniture.
Gilles has been sleeping under the Cambie Street Bridge for seven months now. He chooses that place because he gets harassed and pestered anywhere else he sleeps. Even though he had neither money nor possessions left after being completely robbed by Don, he refused to stay at shelters, panhandle, borrow from his friends or family or even take advantage of charities offered here in Vancouver.
This man was not only robbed of his dignity but also of his pride, past and passion. He accepted the situation he was in and he told me that he was going to work to rebuild everything he had before. From all of the odd jobs he has done, he scrounged up enough dollars to buy himself a small laptop. He has been looking for jobs but it is difficult to land a job while being homeless.
I asked to take a picture of him, but he refused. I really wanted to take a picture of him to show you how devoted and amazing this person was. After all of the mistreatment he endured here in Vancouver Canada, Gilles was wearing a Maple leaf cap, along with a t-shirt with “Vancouver” on it. He was still proudly wearing these symbolic representations of our nation and our city.
It is my duty to try to find him a free lawyer, or at least prevent Don from cashing in from more unaware students. There must be a law to prevent such irresponsible and inhumane practices from taking place. Nobody deserves such a cold treatment. The sad part is that I have left out more details, simple because there were too many to list.