The Garden City Refugee

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Characters of the Core

June 29, 2021

A scruffy older guy is staggering down Queenston Street. The thin hoodie he is wearing is covering his pajamas. He waves as I go by. Everyone here is so polite. Farther down, a community resident bum is crossing the street in front of Westminster United Church headed for Tim Hortons. The church is a magnet for guys like him who hang out on the front steps, smoke and bemoan their lot in life. He waves to me as well. How are you, he asks. I wave back, being careful not to slow down. Nice ride to work, he says as I go by. He asks if I’m going to Dreamworks. I don’t answer. Maybe I’ll see you there, he says.

There were no characters outside the Big Bee, but one of the locals decided to use the parking lot to sort through someone’s blue bin.

Nearby is a thrift store, where someone decided to leave some donations outside the front door despite the sign asking people not to. It will undoubtedly come as no surprise to the proprietor when he/she arrives to open the door. That is, assuming People’s Commissar Ford allows them to open at all. Nothing can be taken for granted these days. I’m half-expecting Ford to copy his idol Kim Il-sung and issue an edict requiring every household to have a framed picture of him on display and to order police to perform regular inspections to enforce this edict. Fines and potential jail sentences, of course, will await those who do not comply or who haven’t dusted the picture recently. Along with an official classification as an enemy of the state.

At the corner of Geneva Street is a community resident bum with a shaved head comfortably asleep on one of the metal benches. The traffic at that busy intersection doesn’t bother him a bit. Alongside him is a pair of tattered bags, one of which is hot pink. A community resident bum with style! Next to his head is a long metal pole with a couple of soap dishes on it. It was undoubtedly a prize haul from a dumpster or a garbage-day scavenger run. No wonder he keeps it so close at hand. He is wearing sandals and a pair of badly soiled gray sweatpants. Perhaps he can exchange that pole for some better clothing.

Near the bus terminal, I follow two community residents bums walking in the middle of the street. The man and the woman seem to be a couple. They are having a bit of a heated discussion. It sounds like the two of them deserve each other. Her head is oddly perched at a 45-degree angle the entire time. Perhaps it is as a result of a medical condition or, more likely, an injury, possibly sustained as a result of an incident in which the perpetrator(s) had excessively indulged in products sold by the nearby LCBO. If only People’s Commissar Ford would allow her to see a doctor.

After taking my leave of them, I pass a pole with a poster on it entitled “Everyday Abolitionist Actions.” It advises to check in on our neighbors, address your biases, look at alternatives to calling the police and lead with compassion. The latter point fails to acknowledge Mayor Sendzik’s trademark of the word “compassion,” which is a major no-no in this part of the world. Because only he, the far-left extremist who has never met a special interest group he won’t get on his hands and knees to grovel to, is capable of showing compassion™.

Like the church, the Central branch of the St. Catharines Public Political Library Lavatory is another favorite gathering place for community residents bums. And they’ve been busy once again. As they seemingly always are. For starters, just after the library lavatory fixes one pane of glass, they break another. They are also continually expressing themselves. Which is understandable. After all, it is officially a library. On the newly replaced pane of glass, someone wrote about how [name redacted] is a bag-chasing fag. Tsk, tsk, homophobia shall not be tolerated in a city as compassionate™ as ours. And underneath this shameful display of homophobia is the line “But Def Bee Chases.” Presumably, it means something to someone.

Two community residents bums are seated by the sheet of plywood covering the newly broken pane of glass, one of whom is rifling through a bag filled with loose papers. They look like grocery store bills and other assorted scraps. One wonders why they would bother toting around such things. But to each his own. They are soon joined by another pair of community residents bums. As he walks by, the guy asks me if I’ve got a light. I don’t. His female companion looks young, possibly a teenager, but has prematurely aged and has a look on her face that screams “I’m on drugs.” And something a lot stronger than weed.

Perhaps she was the one who used this Naloxone kit and the needles spread out next to a pile containing some turquoise-colored twine, a plastic bag and a pair of jeans.

Not far away was the unusual sighting of a woman who looked mostly normal. She was seated at a bench near the farmer’s market drinking from a large tub of yogurt. I guess if you leave it out long enough, it turns into a liquid. Whether or not it’s wise to do that, especially in this heat, however, is left as an exercise for the reader as I bring another installment of “doing more in the core” to a close.

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