April 9, 2002
Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
1pm. I went to the John Howard Society this morning seeking work. They manage group homes for youth in trouble with the law. If there were no jobs open I'd volunteer. I just want to get my foot in the door to see how things work and get to know the kids. Once I was in... then I'd start to organize outdoor activities... taking them climbing, kayaking and teaching photography. This summer, I want to take a few on the FAR OUT Motion Picture kayak trips.
They were not hiring, and could not give me permission to take the youth anywhere, but Bill, Rob and Sue were all very supportive of my vision. Sue said, "Family and Community Services is responsible for children under the age of 16. Public Safety has a shared responsibility for those youth between 12 to 18 who have come in conflict with the law. For the real changes to be made... these people need to make it. These children are the property of the province. They own them."
Lisa at Family Services, and David at Probation Services were the people I was told to see, but Lisa was out of the office, and David doesn't work uptown, so I met with Chuck at the probation office, who was discribed as an "outdoors type", and would be receptive of my plans. Chuck and I had a good discussion, and agreed to meet again on Thursday night.
4:30pm. Seth at Saint John Community Loan Fund is helping me get a loan for $4000 to buy a spaceship. The bank turned me down, saying I need an employer providing a steady salary or show income records for the past three years, and I have neither. This works out better anyway; the loan fund is a non-profit organization with an interest rate of just prime plus 3%. The bank would have put the loan on Visa, which has an interest rate of 17%. The bank and Visa are not my friends.
4:30pm. Jim at laundry mat called himself a "slob" and a "Pack Rat." He buys 10 to 15 books a day, and collects multiple copies of newspapers recording historic events, such as JFK's assassination, Allen Leger's capture and September 11. He owns every Telegraph Journal of the Second World War, from 1939-45, and 30 copies of the last Times Globe. He says he likes reading weird stuff, like the works of Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan. He said I'm a new Bruce Chatwin, and that I would enjoy his books "In Patagonia" and "The Songlines".
5:30pm. Brian at the Salvation Army, said "Being in there, it has driven me to insanity... almost. Maybe not, but I think so. But I'm getting better at the same time though. I still have a lot of fears. I like a guy who knows what he is doing. Come back anytime. We'll go for a coffee or something." Brian has $40 in his pocket from a GST rebate. His friend was using his new dough to get smokes and a Coke.
A lot of people don't have their act together, with priorities messed up or completely lacking vision to direct their lives. Jim has a law degree, but he forgot to brush his teeth, so now he has none. John, living at Wes's houses, who I visited earlier today, waiting for my appointment at the bank, said "Most people only live a few pay checks from the street. The security of working a job with a salary is a bunch of hooey!"
If we as a nation, or as a planet wanted to freed and house everyone, we could; but we don't. We don't value human life. If a pretty little girl goes missing or falls down a well... the media will tell the story a hundred thousand times; it's sensational, it's shock value. The newspapers and TV news are not your friends--they are not a public service; they are businesses and their job is to sell advertising-- "Buy this... it will make you happy." Become a Granola and go back to the land?... Hell no!!! For there to be "haves"... there needs to be "Have nots." For there to be a third world, there must be a second and first. "Greed breeds suspicion," John explained. "...and promotes people to work toward selfish ends as opposed to collectively." But there is hope, thanks to good folks like Chuck and Seth.
6:30pm. Radar, collecting refundable bottles and cans, stopped to talk with me on his way Toonie Tuesdays at KFC.