Picking up the pieces
on a clear, crisp Sunday morning. The so called section of the city around Queen University campus is deserted, save for a few bleary eyed partiers feeling their way home from Homecoming II shakers.
At the corner of Aberdeen and William streets, a tomcat, his night of prowling and feline infidelity behind him, nibbles on a slab of sausage, eschewing a nearby pizza crust. A moment later, the tom, distracted by a four legged intruder, hisses threateningly before putting the run on the competitor.
Not far away, Donald Patterson, raw boned and one eyed, starts for home with an industrial sized garbage bag wedged inside a hand pulled shopping cart, his shivering shift in the out of doors finished.
headed down here around two in the morning, he says in a cheerful way that belies his plight.
is my second trip, he continues, patting the bulging bag of bottles and beer cans, the fruits of his overnight labour. got about $14 in here. I use it to do laundry and buy food. I got $3 (worth) on my first trip, but that was earlier in the night after I visited a friend in the hospital. There weren too many people out because it was raining awfully hard, too. 46, walked home in that driving rain, a good half hour stroll.
Respectful of people and property, he waits until the revelry stops before descending on an area and never ventures onto a stoop or veranda to retrieve a 10 cent prize. His hunting grounds are the abandoned streets, sidewalks and front lawns of the ghetto.
The police leave him alone as do residents, for the most part anyway. Ditto for the crew from the Students Maintenance and Resource Team (SMART), the AMS rolex watches for sale driven community cleanup service.
make a huge difference, SMART manager Michael Mooney says of the sprinkling of bottle/can pickers. Mooney mixed crew of staff and volunteers picked enough refuse on the morning after to fill a dumpster down from two dumpsters following Homecoming Part I a fortnight ago. pick up broken glass, red plastic cups, fo rolex watches for sale od, garbage, those types of things. We leave any cans and unbroken bottles because they be gone in no time. souls such as Patterson and SMART volunteers are the unsung of Homecoming, picking up cans and bottles and helping to return the neighbourhood to some semblance of beauty, such as it is.
Patterson tells a listener he was born in Smiths Falls, the only boy among five children born to an electrician and his wife. Indications are that he had a hard life, hampered by self indulgence, circumstance and vices. To his credit, he faults no one but himself, no blame levelled at a system for failing him, although it almost surely did at some point.
haven had a drink in a year, a year ago last September, he says. allergic to alcohol. I break out in he adds wryly, upturned wrists held out. Without being asked, he offers that he has spent a few nights a drunk tank but that it, rap sheet wise.
The recyclables augment his income from a disability pension of a little over $1,000 a month. can stand on a corner and ask for money, that just not me, he says in a dignified manner, adding: certainly don put anyone down who does that, but it not who I am. biggest haul were the three big bags scooped up in the wee hours of a morning during Frosh Week. commercial garbage bag holds 300 cans, he points out. $30 a load. treks several kilometres with each bundle and ignores the slights and slurs from schmucks who ought to know better.
been told I stink a lot, been told to get a job. Well, this is my job. That OK. I can put up with a few crude remarks, they nothing compared to what Jesus had to put up with.
don go to church, he adds, I believe. I consider my walks quality time with Him. he currently has a roof over his head, that hasn always been the case and, who knows, may again be the situation in the future. He is unfazed by the prospect. I need is a sleeping bag and a tarp and I good to go, he notes, smiling. I own I can fit in a duffel bag. newspaperman, en route to early mass on Sunday, slips him a sawbuck earmarked for the collection plate rolex watches for sale at St. John the Apostle rolex watches for sale . The man begrudgingly accepts it, but only after some persuasive urging.
A couple of hours later, when the two meet up to finish the interview, Patterson comes clean.
was a time when I use the $10 to buy a gram of pot, he says. now. This $10 bought me milk and a box of cereal. happened to the eye? he asked.