Street Tales: The repeat of negative decisions

For many years while still a smoker I would quit and say that was the last one I would ever have, only to pick up the habit again. The reasons for re-starting were as varied as the number of times it happened, but eventually in 2010 I quit and stayed quit. Truth be known, it sometimes feels like just one wouldn’t hurt me but I know that the instant buzz would start me smoking all over again.

His height works to his advantage as a window washer. A pleasant fellow, Gord will often offer a deal to wash the windows at the kitchen and to other businesses around town as well. The one issue that he has is an addiction to drugs and try as he might, he keeps choosing to fall into the same trap continually. A man in his forties, his goal still remains the pursuit of enough money to ‘have fun.’

The work he does he does well, so he is never without enough work to feed his habits, but there is a negative side to his behaviour (other than addiction) which some find offensive. When around the street folks, his language is foul and very suggestive but away from these same people he mostly cleans up. As well as his work, he is always on the hunt for deals or possibly even articles left lying about that he can make money from.

For whatever reason he rejected any restraint he might have been taught in his youth and so his decision making constantly leads to the negative side of life. He has convinced himself that he is having fun but in reflective moments he acknowledges that if he doesn’t stop, it will kill him.

Her eyes are dark and extremely piercing and she will stand and stare at a person till they are made uncomfortable. She will sell herself but only for more crack or whatever drug is available at the time. Several years ago she would come in and be able to carry on a conversation, but now she speaks only in single syllable words, and very few at that.

When she was on speaking terms she mentioned the abuse in her youth, but her tone of voice left some room for doubt. It may well have happened, but I know for certain that periodically these claims are manufactured to gain a rapport with someone or in an effort to obtain something that they want. Such is the feeling that I get with her. She once wrote something like a short poem that she gave me that suggests that her upbringing might not have been the best, but there was really no abuse attached; at least not enough to put her where she is now.

Experience at the kitchen and meeting with folks that have opted for a life on the street has taught me that in some cases it was just based on a decision to opt out of the ‘rat race.’ There is a certain attraction for young people to associate with others who feel the same way and so a “do nothing but have fun” lifestyle can easily be developed. Then with one thing leading to another, a negative and degenerative lifestyle soon develops which often turns into permanent residency on the street.

Although there are many agencies and many excellent teachers in schools that sincerely desire to teach people to care about their decisions, there are times when it seems like an insurmountable task. Peer pressure, uninvolved parents and a pressuring society place enough demands on a young person that choices can be difficult to make.

As parents of these kids, one of our jobs should always be to make sure that our children don’t repeat themselves in making negative decisions.

Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator at Potters Hands.

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