Homeless in Vancouver: Please don't get up on our account
Above we have “Mr. Invisible”.
He was panhandling in his own fashion Tuesday morning in front of the McDonalds on West Broadway, near Granville Street.
Last we saw him, he was about two kilometres east on Broadway in front of the Michaels Arts & Crafts store; he was cocooned in a sleeping bag with the word “invisible” written on a slip of paper pinned to the bag. He was panhandling then, also.
His technique apparently works—Tuesday morning I watched his inert form suddenly come to life and pop up like a slice of toast when a woman offered him a $20 bill. ‘Tis the Season to be a panhandler!
A bit obscene but at least not heard
Here’s Brian (or alternately Richard) sleeping at his “campsite” in the alcove of the former location of SportChek on the west side of the Crossroads complex on Broadway Avenue near Cambie Street. When he’s not sleeping he’s mostly ranting uncontrollably at the people passing by his spot.
Not only does he fit the stereotype of a homeless person, he could be a “poster child” for street disorder. I see him also as a challenge to our compassion and tolerance, not to mention forbearance.
I personally don’t like his habits one bit, but that shouldn’t stop me from helping him—should it?
Brian is—forgive me for saying it—barking mad. He is also filthy, in both his demeanor and habits—and you don’t want to know what’s in those paper cups.
He’s as truly pathetic as the city’s panhandlers all pretend to be. Aside from being elderly, mentally ill, and an alcoholic, he’s badly crippled, having lost all his toes to frostbite some years ago.
He’s the kind of homeless person who needs help the most, just as he’s one of the most difficult to help. There’s no way he can be kept inside—he says he’s claustrophobic—except against his will.
He's what people used to call incorrigible—not able to be changed or reformed—so he’s given disability money and left to his own devices.
If there’s a better solution than just giving him whatever degree of help he’ll accept and leaving him be—gritting our teeth and turning a blind eye, and a deaf ear--then either no one’s thought of it yet or it’s too expensive.
My friend Florida Pete, who sometimes camps and drinks with Brian, tells me he helped clean up the campsite some days ago, and it shows. Pete also told me he gave Brian a belt and made him promise to use it to hold up his pants. Thanks Pete!