Where to sleep tonight? – 2pm
I tried to visit Lawrence Brooks at his low-income housing unit in the heart of the Downtown Eastside. I pulled on the door handle; it was locked. So I rang the buzzer. “Hi, I am here to see Lawrence.” The receptionist did not welcome that idea, “we do not let strangers into the building.” The only way I could enter this building is if Lawrence was there with me. I am sure there are good reasons for having such tight security. It is clearly very different from stepping into neighborhoods most of us are used to.
With this failed mission, I turned my attention towards determining which shelter to sleep at tonight. Kenneth warned me of the bed bug epidemic that’s out here. He said that he slept at First United Church a couple of times and both times, he got bed bugs. Many of the homeless would rather sleep outdoors than staying at these unhygienic shelters. Also, the stench of feet, snoring, puking, coughing makes it really difficult to get a good night’s rest. At least you can find yourself a quiet odorless area to rest when you sleep outside.
I am leaning towards staying at the Salvation Army shelter, located across from the Detox center. Jay and I were planning on staying there on Christmas Eve, but if you recall, I couldn’t find my way back and ended up sleeping near the Cambie Bridge instead.
Who knows how everything will play itself out? My brother encouraged me to spend more time with First Nations living in this area. So far the only native person I have met was the man who offered me his poutine when I was hungry. That time I had money in my pocket to buy myself a slice of pizza. The story is different now. I only have 25 cents to my name. A few hours ago, a couple of pedestrians offered me money while I was sitting on the pavement, but I rejected both offers.
I have two apples and some candy canes left in my bag. That is not a dinner, so I will have to line up at the UGM bread line again for some food. The good thing about the bread line as opposed to having dinner at the UGM is that we are not required to sit and listen to a priest scare us of the idea of hell.