Before my friends arrived, I started talking to a woman at the waterfront station. This woman was sitting on the same bench as me. She seemed distraught about something. I asked her if she was waiting for someone and whether they were late as well. She replied with an annoyed “yes.”
With a garbage bag lying next to my seat, I told her that I wasn’t actually homeless and that I was doing this to see how it feels like being homeless. She was in disbelief. She couldn’t believe that I had a family and a bed but instead chose to sleep out here alone. I showed her my notebook and flipped through all the pages I had written so far.
At this time, a man named Dave came up to me and stood right in front of me. He stretched out his fist and opened it slowly. Inside of it was a cross. It was as if he was offering it to me or showing me his beliefs with one swift action. He also had a cross around his neck and was holding a book in his hand.
I started the conversation by asking him how he was doing and what he was reading. He said he was reading the Bible. So in return I asked him if God existed before this book. He raised his eyebrows and replied with a yes. I continued asking him whether “the truth” exited before the book. His answer was another yes. Then, Dave sat next to me and we started talking.
The woman, who was probably bothered by this sequence of events, packed up her bags and left. As she was leaving, I told her that this was exactly how my entire notebook came into existence. People come up to me and I write about their stories. It is as if I am the loudspeaker and that they speak through me. She left without saying anything. She may have thought I was crazy, I am not sure.
Dave was sick and tired of being sick and tired; done with partying, doing drugs and drinking. Not too long ago someone robbed him. Someone left him with this cross that he showed me earlier. Something that is common with the people in the Downtown Eastside is their strong belief in God. Some may say it is because they need something to believe in and that their beliefs give them hope that helps ease their pain. Napoleon once said that religion is there to prevent “the poor from killing the rich,” others like me, see it through a different lens.
Next, we discussed how the public perceives Dave. He stressed that only because a person does drugs, does not automatically make them a thief, crook, or an immoral person. Unfortunately, this is the perception many have towards drug addicts today. In most cases, the few homeless have tarnished the reputation for the honest ones trying to make a living and survive out here.
Either way, Dave wanted to get out of this cyclical life that he has lived for decades. He wanted a change and lead a different life. I guess some people need a push or life changing event to turn things around. And Dave was in the process of finding that for himself.