Victims of Violence Symposium, notes and comments

I took extensive notes.

Christine Lowe opened things up by saying that in healthy communities we acknowledge the harm that comes to victims of violence, and that victimes need to be helped with their physical, spiritual and emotional well being. Strong relationships make social justice possible.

She made a joke about the podium.  When they were finalizing planning they realized they had no podium, and they had no money to buy or rent one.  So they called the police.  The Victoria PD supplied the podium.

This donation by the police meant that we were looking at their logo the entire time, but it also meant that it was a place where cops and SJWs could work together, and that made me happy.

There was a territorial acknowledgement, and Elder May made a blessing that set the tone for the day.  A little rambling, heart-piercingly beautiful, compassionate.  When she sang I started weeping.  The contrast of her speaking voice and her singing voice was so acute it made me sit up. Her song was wordless and filled with yearning for justice and peace.

Then the Deputy Minister for Justiceland Wanamaker got up and gave a canned f*cking empty speech with about as much inflection and heart as one gets from a Grade 7 kid giving her first address.  As a libertarian-inflected feminist, I was enraged to the point I nearly booed when she tried to make political hay out of taking 5 million dollars from civil forfeiture – forgot we had that in Canada, right? right? and earmarking it for prevention of violence against women.  Really don’t like that.  I could go on at great length about why I was pissed, but instead I stink eyed her until she left.  She may be a king hell accomplished career bureaucrat, and we should be thankful that somebody of her dignity spoke to us, but I came away wanting to coach her on public speaking and liberty both.  Please don’t think that the 8 Domestic Violence Units which have been set up across BC with the money are bad things. I don’t.  One thing I will credit her with is saying ‘all genders'; this is phrasing I wish more politicians would adopt, since it doesn’t other trans* and intersex people, or people who are distinctly possessing identifiable bits but are not gender normative, and it includes two-spirited.

Frank Elsner. Chief of Police in Victoria since January 2014.  Man, I wish, you have NO IDEA HOW I WISH, that brO could have been in the auditorium when he spoke.  He worked the room, greeting and speaking with many, many people. Fine, a cop can have good social skills, in fact let’s hope she does. As he was introduced, it was obvious that he is highly intelligent and has multiple degrees from real universities.  He’s been chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which means he’s been exposed to best (and worst) practices across the planet, and let’s face it the last decade has seen some impressive advances in community policing.

He said, “Why talk about community health in terms of policing?” Essentially good policing is part of what makes a healthy community.  As a cop he was appalled to arrest three generations of criminals.  The boys weren’t born bad; intervention and options are required to turn lives around.

He mandated a different approach to street prostitution.  Instead of throwing them in the jug, a group of women were streamed toward social workers.  Picture their astonishment when the first problem most of them had was that they had no picture ID. Childcare, job training and housing were also issues.  Address them, and women can get off the street.  He made it sound simple, but the key is collaboration among a large group of people across half a dozen Ministries and social agencies.  When you get seven women out of the life, you are reducing human suffering in them, their children and their grandchildren, is the point.

Then he said the thing that would have made brO happiest.  He said the police must be accountable to the people they serve for everything they do, even when it hurts the police institutionally and personally.  The reactive model of policing is no longer tenable; police have to earn and show respect in the community they serve.

He also mentioned that cops need to be better educated and trained (yay, maybe that one dingus will finally learn how to give evidence in traffic court) and that their own mental health MUST be factored into the equation; police need like all people to be treated with respect for the sad duties they take on, on behalf of all of us, and that if we just keep expecting cops to suck it up they will snap.  So he wants to look after the well being of the people in his department and not just expect them to stand tall and be stoic.

My applause at the end of his talk was very genuinely enthusiastic, as was Paul’s.

Then Dr. Martin Broken Leg got up.

1. Dude’s funny.

2. Dude’s a survivor.

3. Dude’s hella smart.

With effortless humour, fluency, clarity and logic, he walked us through what it’s like to live in Aboriginal culture, both sides of the border (he is Lakota, adopted into the Raven clan on Haida Gwaii and man you shoulda seen his button decorated black vest with the most beeeyootiful appliquéd silver raven on the back, I admired it in person.)

One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Indian kids went to residential schools until 94 when the last one closed.  Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Indian kids have gone into care since the mid fifties.

Christ wept.

The ACE studies (Adverse Childhood Experiences) can provide some light.

If a child is exposed to addictions, abuse, domestic violence, incarceration and neglect, you will get social impairment, health risks, disease, disability and early death.

There are other sources of trauma to FN kids. Federal laws, provincial policies, residential schools, the institutions of the churches, poverty, sub standard housing, poor nutrition and lack of healthy practices, lower opportunities for education and employment.

Oppression comes in many forms.  Social microaggressions, the way people look at you and talk to you and make assumptions about you. Systems don’t make place for you and your cultural folkways. The professional people who are supposed to help you don’t necessarily respect you and don’t expect you to improve; and then of course there’s internalized racism and the numbness that comes when you realize that you’re worthless; you don’t need to see 1200 missing women on tv to realize that there’s not a lot of respect for FN women, let alone men.

He recommended Rupert Ross’s Criminal Conduct and Colonialization and Dr. Paulette Regan’s Unsettling the Settler Within.

Traumatized people show it.  They show it by abusing their children, committing suicide, legal trouble and incarceration, early death, violence and addictions.

If you’re working with traumatized people the question to ask is not What’s Wrong with You!? it’s What Happened to You?

In 2012 the Gladue decision brought into sentencing the ability of the judge to inquire as to childhood trauma before jail time.

Subsequently a 19 year old aboriginal man was arrested for assaulting (I remember this story) a Coast Mountain bus driver. At sentencing it was learned that he had been in 28 foster homes between 4 and 18. He didn’t get jail time, he got counselling, and the howls from white people who said BUT HE ISN’T BEING PUNISHED were very loud. And pointless.  Jail wouldn’t help.

 

FN people need to:

See your own and your inherited pain (he called it the dark shadow that lies across every aspect of aboriginal life.)

Know and express your own suffering.

Self-critique and move toward self-improvement (away from victimhood toward self-actualization)

Reclaim aboriginal spirtuality, community and culture ESPECIALLY LANGUAGE (my comment because it is a road map back to the way the land spoke to your ancestors.)

Non-aboriginal people need to work on:

Self-reflection, to lose their white innocence (I had no idea FN children were experimented on, I had no idea that three percent of the residential school kids never came home, I had no idea that the Indian Act didn’t let FN women vote until the 1960s.)

Accept the historical violence, from the Beothuk to Akwesasne.

Admit the full equality of Aboriginal people and ways.  That’s the tough one.  We’ve been acculturated to believe that European ways are superior, and it ain’t necessarily so.

Remember that the 1948 UN definition of genocide COVERS THE SITUATION OF THE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS.

Broken Leg then talked about the four stages of forgiveness, as outlined in Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving, which he wrote with his daughter Mpho.

  1. Let us tell the truth. Speak the truth, unvarnished, the facts.  Tell trusted people, accepting that the past will not be changed.
  2. Name the hurt.  Accept all feelings as valid and connect those feelings to the facts.  Use Kubler-Ross’s grief work. Be vulnerable and be willing to be hurt, because you will be.
  3. Grant forgiveness by choosing to forgive.  Grow by forgiveness.  Move to the place of being a survivor hero, not a victim.
  4. Change your story.  Tell a new story to heal.  Renew or release the relationship that has marked you. Ask for what you need.  Look at your role, not to blame yourself, but with calmness.

Reconciliation continues.

 

Young people, to be resilient, must be valued enough by their culture to be taught 

Belonging

Mastery

Independence

Generosity

See also.

______

Then I went to a breakout session on suicide prevention in young people “This do in memory of me” for Kaitlin Schmidt, whose plaque we put up in the Gazebo of Remembrance on Thursday night.

Almost 4000 people kill themselves in Canada every year. A lot of them are young people. Accidents involving brain injury, suicide and cancer are one two three for cause of death in folks under 25.

It’s okay to ask somebody if they are thinking of harming themselves or killing themselves, but there is a big but.

You have to say that you have seen a change in behaviour first.  This marks you as somebody observant and caring.  If they are suicidal but deny it you have marked yourself as a safe person to talk to later. (I find it unlikely that I will ever be that blue again but I know EXACTLY who among my friends I can go to, and that in itself is wonderful.) If they aren’t suicidal they can explain why they’ve been wearing nothing but sweat pants for two weeks and are giving away all their stuff.

Since kids have smart phones, there’s been a lot of work on apps that help kids manage their moods.  Links below.

I found it very interesting that the presenter, Renata Hindle, said that in two hundred 80 minute presentations in BC to Grade 8 and Grade 10 kids, precisely one class wouldn’t go with the guided meditation, and that dozens of kids have told her they wished they knew about it earlier.  Funnily enough, we teach meditation at a number of points in the UU religious education curriculum.  Cause we be all about raising resilient kids yo.

Booster Buddy

Kelty

____________

Then there was a very challenging talk on male survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

Men process sexual trauma differently than women.

Gender role conditioning to not seek help, to suck it up, to be tough and stoic, mean that help is not sought and the trauma plays out in all aspects of the survivor’s life.

They don’t have the social permission of women to ask for help, to admit to needing it.

When they do seek help, there is a deluge of stuffed-down emotions which occurs at the commencement of the counselling.

Societal and internalized homophobia (offenders normally being men) can cloud the survivor’s ability to see their own victimization.  Womanizing is often a consequence of childhood sexual abuse.

Often, they can fear that they will prey on children (this was brilliantly depicted, as an aside, as part of Bunchy’s story in Showtime’s Ray Donovan.)

Something that never occurred to me was that as boys arrive at puberty, they have the ability to be physically aroused by damned near anything.  This is used by perps to show to the boy that he ‘must have enjoyed it.’ ew ew ew.

5 – 6% of boys who’ve been molested go on to offend.

BUT 95% of offenders were abused.

Those are horrible statistics. And we’re doing a shitty job as a culture of helping men who’ve been sexually abused as children. I am going to investigate the group helping men here in town.

As an aside, she said that male survivors are very likely to espouse conspiracy theories, because their essential feeling of safety has been destroyed.  They have seen the shadowy forces of evil and want everybody to be as frightened as they once were.

This made me realize that someone close to me is probably a survivor.  I have had to come to a personal adjustment of my thinking patterns.

Sobriety is virtually impossible for survivors who haven’t had counselling for the trauma.

Survivors get in fights, they are medicated heavily, many have difficulty keeping sober and binge or drink steadily, they dress in a fashion that tells people ‘KEEP THE **** AWAY FROM ME”, they don’t come to family events and cause scenes or sit in the corner and drink, and they are job avoidant or can’t keep a job due to ongoing issues with disrespect and authority.

THEN.

I didn’t take notes.

Reena Virk’s parents made a presentation about what it was like, and how the reconciliation with one of their daughter’s killers went.

I cried a lot.

Then they started talking about the Bible, which was less moving, and Paul and I anthem sprinted to the ferry, where we made the 5 o’clock.  There was a circular rainbow in Active Pass, and I saw a fur seal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delightful time

I had a simply wonderful time at the fOlks’.

I made biscotti.  I wrote about 300 new words and deleted about 500 old ones.  mOm and I completely worked our way through the edits for the first 112 manuscript pages.  (She read, I typed…. goes very fast that way).  I plan at least one more pass to ensure that I’ve incorporated all of Diane’s suggestions.  We laughed A LOT and it was like a fantasy come true.  I’m in my favourite room in the whole world WORKING like a RENTED MULE on something that will hopefully make people laugh, think, and maybe if I’m really really really lucky, influence the course of a scientific investigation (the highest praise for SF, screw the awards.  mOm knows I am not in it for fame, or awards.  I’m doing it for her. I’m writing SF for my mother, and so if she likes it (and she does) I’m okay.  (Diane occasionally provided editorial evidence that she was enjoying it.)

I got 600 words into my January homily.

I taught mOm how to cook neeps without them disintegrating.  (Starfit fry cutter and then steam for two-three minutes).  I cooked some beef tenderloin for pOp so that it was neither burned on the outside nor underdone in the middle.

We went to Dan’s, and saw the swans, and the million dollar properties up the hill in Saanich.  I saw Diane and got a sense of when I’ll be able to get the next batch to her. We laughed at the antics of the birds – pogoing Mountain Jays and pugnacious hummingbirds.

I had a dream where I found $50 folded in half and blown up against some weeds on a sidewalk in a town I’ve never been to.

We got a network cable run into the guest bedroom (Alex has already indicated her approval of this message.)  The cable is long enough to run out to the gazebo.  Happy days of writing with the birds, bees and a pan-pipe playing piggy are now in prospect.

We went through mOm’s Narnia-scale wardrobe of fabrics and I got a 25 cm tall stash of various kinds of fabric for baby and steampunk projects.

Katie’s quilt was ready, so I brought it back across the Salish Sea.

It was good and productive and I’ve written 500 words since I got back and tightened up some of Part II.  I am much less afraid of the editing process.  I am not a perfect writer.  Perhaps I shall learn to be a consistent one.

I have the names for all three books now.  Midnite Moving Company will be set in the same universe but about Jesse and Michel.  We see much more of Jesse and Michel in Part II.  Since mOm is eager to read even a messed up first draft of that, I should get on it.

Pleasant visit

The visit with the fOlks was very good and we had a SPECTACULAR trip back.  The wind and the sun were in perfect proportion, and we got chocolate soft ice cream for a snack.  Thank you Paul for subsidizing that trip (pOp too….) and mOm for the baby stuffs. It was fun noodling around Victoria looking for baby stuffs.

Why I love Susan Sarandon. She just so effervescently and totally rocks.

Watched Boyhood.  I really enjoyed it, and then immediately read a black critic’s takedown of it and have to now file the movie under guilty pleasures.  Sigh. Jeff bailed partway through since various characters were being jerks.

Sahara Delights is now in the space Kitty Kate’s Cafe was in.

Went singing at Tom and Peggy’s last night.  The alto part for Word of God is wicked hard.

 

Writing and practicing

It’s a cloudy, not particularly inspiring day out there, but inside various things are burbling along.  I’m reading all my friends’ posts about being at Worldcon in London UK.  I am going to register for Sasquan today; it will be much closer than London, sheesh I can almost walk there from here.

 

 

Trip to Bancroft

Flying squirrels have a really weird distress call.  There are plenty of them here.

Yesterday we made the trip to Bancroft since the weather didn’t cooperate with respect to grass cutting.  We provisioned and avoided big piles of junk food or beer.

Military aircraft just went by about 30 meters off the deck.

The cat here, Shadow, is an elegant longhaired tortoiseshell who hides in the catnip bush and minces through the tall grass.  I’ll have pics later.

Today I pulled tall grass out of the rose bed and deadheaded the roses.  They will probably set on more blooms.

The Least Flycatcher female sat still and let me admire her, then her hubby came by and told her to move along.

Sandra made me roast lamb and red wild rice and I just et a really fabulous mulligatawney soup.  World is a tasty place here.

I hope everybody is having a good day.

A child I once went on a camping trip with has turned out to be an evilly-reputed international call girl.  What a world.

I’m a little behind – July 13

Live blogging from 3 am to 5:34 am July 13

I have arrived safely and soundly at Red Deer Cabins, where my body clock is saying that it’s 3 am and local time is 6 am, but I’m up because the gentle rain is bringing out some very insistent birds.  I have already learned, without getting out of bed, that the crows in Madawaska call a third higher than the crows in Vancouver.

The trip was characterized by patience and was rewarded with success. The plane went mechanical just prior to pushback and one of Paul’s confrères trotted over and fixed it within twenty minutes, but we lost our slot time and the crew had to flog it to make it up. I got the last window seat on the flight and one of my seat mates was a charming ten year old boy.  He was obviously an old hand at flying, brought a lunch and immediately fired up a couple of movies. I spent most of the flight tightening and loosening all my leg muscles to keep from seizing up or having circulation issues but did not otherwise get out of my seat.  The flight was interrupted by what I considered to be trivial amounts of turbulence (as terrified as I am of flying, and really, I am, and apart from the Lake Amphibian crash back when Katie was in utero I have also survived one horrifying near miss on the runway in Toronto (that was the flight that took us out of Toronto for the last time to move to Vancouver, and it would have likely killed a couple of hundred people as it would have been a full on t-bone between two fully packed airliners one of which was full of fuel) I don’t mind turbulence, nor landings, nor takeoffs.) There were not one, not two, not three but FOUR screaming babbies on the flight.  They were thoughtful though, they tagged teamed and we only got two screaming at once, and the one sitting closest to me saved her meltdown until half an hour before we landed.  Air Canada headset ear buds are the most uncomfortable I’ve ever worn.

I watched Captain America 2.

The Budget rental is more than adequate for my purposes. It was a long fucking drive from Ottawa after the drive in to the airport, and the wait which, and then the flight, and then the trivial amount of time to pick up the car, and then the stop in Eganville. I accidentally called OnStar while attempting to adjust my rearview mirror, which was embarrassing and comical, and happened, god damn my eyes, less than a kilometre from my destination.

Sandy greeted me with hugs, Oka and IPA. Walked outside into the dark and in the first second saw a firefly.  Then another.  Walked down to the water so Sandy could soak her feet. Played Otto for a while by fire and firefly light.  The sky looked to rain the next day, which it did.  There are so many different birds and birdcalls.  The Least Flycatchers nesting in the eaves have already rebuilt their nest once; they put the nest too close to one of the enormous logs holding up Sandy’s square dance sized deck, which faces on the river. A raccoon  … holy cow a hummingbird just fed at the fuchsia in the hanging box over the deck.  Okay, where was I with that raccoon.  So many dead yearlings on the highway, and SO many porcupines I lost county.  Dead yearling deer 15k east of here.  The raccoon, damn, the raccoon climbed up the log and ate the babbies.

I’ve had two ginormous cups of sedately ferocious coffee.  Sandy’s generating smoothies which (one piously hopes) will assist in the generation of verbiage, since I’m all about the writing for the next week.

Life donates its riches whether they are fireflies or storm surges.

I send fond greetings to Jeff and merp-inducing hugs to Margot.

Anxiety coming in waves (this condition)

That’s a quote from a Lupine Howl song, by the way, but it covers the situation nicely.  Every time I go to book the flight I am overcome by anxiety.  I have been waiting for a sign and when I emailed Sandra this morning, she cut through all the bullshit and provided a prosaic and unjudgemental reason to fly east, so after Jeff takes me to brekkie (yay) and I empty the dishwasher and refill it, I’ll book it.  Don’t know the day yet, but at least I know I am going.

Yesterday was that feeling of impending doom day, but today is much better.

Millicent AB

Thank you SO MUCH to Paul for accompanying me to see Lois and Bob.  We had a wonderful time.

One of our adventures was pretty adventury and I won’t talk about it because no matter how I tried I’d just sound petty, but one of the days I was gone we went to Dinosaur Provincial Park, a world heritage site, and it was stupendous, spectacular, amazing.  We went to the Centrosaurus Bone Bed and Bone Bed Number 50 and saw an owl nest (no baby wols, although they had been spotted) and did NOT see a rattlesnake, phew, and walked where every honey coloured rock was a dinosaur bone.

We also went to Lake Newell where I got into a big argument with a Ring Billed  Gull (it was very funny, it kept flying back and squawking at me in an attempt to get the last squawk) and mostly we hung with dogs (Harley is a black lab and I LOVES HIM, I brushed him repeatedly and he loved on me right back…. and Lazzy is well, a terrier, and I watched the two of them play keepaway with a stick and I laughed until I HURT MY RIBS and the last day I was there Lazzy presented his belly for my approval and strokes) and people, and Bob cooked me an organic local beefsteak that brings tears to my eyes as I recollect it and we had Cambodian style food in Brooks and I admired how enormous the trees are that they planted 30 years back and enjoyed the comfy bed and quiet at night (except when somebody started spraying Roundup at dusk Thursday night, snarl) and really enjoyed the Nissan Maxima I rented and exclusively drove thanks for asking and OMG JULY 1ST.

We drove into Rosemary at dusk July 1st and set up chairs and blankies and watched a small town fireworks display.  It was neither cheesy nor short; it was one of the best fireworks displays I’ve ever seen and I got to be really close to it.  It was a really sincerely trulio Canadian experience and it made me happy. A local country cover band was playing as we pulled up and they were good

Apart from how very hot I was for the second field trip at DPP (I got very tired of the field interpreter and spent a lot of time sitting in the bus) and the mosquitoes as we walked up to the Centrosaurus bone bed (black, ferocious, completely painless as they bit, and perfectly able to handle 30 degree C weather and 40 kph breezes) I enjoyed the entire trip.  Paul as always managed the travelling portion perfectly and all the getting thither and in and out of Calgary was slick.

I brought neither my computer nor my instruments and I brought no cameras.  I wanted memories, happy ones, and I am topped up currently.

It was SO GOOD TO SEE THEM.  I miss my inlaw rellies and I am glad to have sat in their kitchen and caught up with them.

Side trip

Although I am still going to Ontario later in July I’m actually leaving with Paul to go see Bob and Lois for three days this morning.

Since it won’t be confirmed space I’ll not be taking Otto, which will be strange…  We’re flying into Calgary and I’ve booked us a car.

I may be too busy to post or somewhere I don’t have easy access so I may just be doing mini posts.

Margot is washing herself right outside my door.  I can hear her little grunts of effort and concentration.  She sounds like a little pig sometimes.  Other times, like a duck.

Katie sent me a link to these two lovely women dancing.

 

Leaving for Georgia soon

I will be keeping a trip diary and posting irregularly… I have decided not to take my computer because I simply cannot afford to have it confiscated by the US government.  I have NOTHING on the computer which would warrant that, but I’ve been complaining under my real name about the US government for 10 years now.  Most hotels have a guest computer room.

If I do write any George stuff while I’m gone it will be cursive, or uploaded to Google drive…. they aren’t likely to confiscate that. I will take my phone and charger.

I pack today.  It will be a big batch of weird stuff I take, I hope the TSA and Customs can deal with it all.

I’m going to drop the keys for the business off with the landlord.  I have been trying and trying and trying to sell it, and almost 60 people enquired, and I showed it to at least 30 sets of people, but I can’t pay rent any more.  I closed the file with Fraser Health yesterday.  It has been a year out of my life, and we only operated for three months.  I learned a lot, got my heart and my shoulder broken, and I really think I’m a better person.  I certainly have more self-knowledge, a lot more respect for restaurateurs.  Knowing that I will never ever step through that door again is, candidly, more of a relief than I can say.  Anything else I say will be oversharing.

I am practicing and writing every day – music or one of my other projects.  That’s really the only thing that counts.

Jeff can handle getting a bolus into Eddie by himself with no difficulty, so I don’t feel like I’m abandoning Jeff over that.  Eddie is moving as little as possible to accomplish his goals of just barely eating, just barely drinking, and getting to the litter pan.  I’ve taken to leaving a hot water bottle next to him as he was cold to the touch the other day, and lifting him up into the chair he is sleeping in pretty much 24/7 these days.  Margot is being very sucky towards us and practically knocked Eddie over with her tail the other day, a liberty he simply would not have tolerated a couple of months ago.

So many people have told me how much they are looking forward to seeing me at GAFilk!  I feel genuinely underrehearsed, but I recently read that if you’re feeling nervous, make yourself MORE EXCITED.  So I will.

ATL is not currently experiencing delays in or outbound with the exception of international flights outbound.  Travel will be icky, but not impossible due to weather.

I’d like to call out Patricia for helping arrange a drinkypoo on my return, and a very warm hug for mOm and Chipper, who have been extra specially supportive beta readers for George, and for Tammy, who provided me with the book that unblocked my last objections to the writing.  I have something very specific to say on the subject of first contact, which is that we’ve had 100 years of science fiction in popular culture, and we have to start writing first contact fiction that allows humans to respond intelligently to aliens.  Not to freak out or say stupid things. To say, “Cool! Weird! How can I help? What’s in it for me?  Where’s your ray gun?” when somebody who really does think globally comes along.

 

Everybody who can, have a good day!

about the town

Garageband intermediate lesson a success, thank you Lisa (also her fur babies Luna, Romeo and Chai, two chill dogs and a cat).  Drive out to Maple Ridge was HOT.  Even with ac.

While there found out that my Garageband IS gibbled, it’s not just my imagination and I should probably reinstall.  Also got an appointment for a job interview this afternoon.

Drive back was interesting.  Lisa gave me directions for taking the scenic route out of town but I missed a turn (v. typical of me) and got back to Lougheed and Dewdney Trunk Road (driving past Glenn and Maggie’s old place in the process and feeling kinda sadface).  After a turned onto Lougheed I saw a woman in a teal top and jeans (the colour drew my eye) HITCHHIKING.  I haven’t picked up a hitchhiker in 15 years but it was a fucking hot day and I recently challenged myself not to suppress every kindly instinct.  Feeling strongly that some good would come of it, I stopped.

I asked her where she was going, after she said OMG AIR CONDITIONING – she’d been sitting surrounded by concrete in the blazing sun – and she said Coquitlam close by IKEA, and I said, pas de probleme, I’ll drop you there.  What are you doing?  Picking up my grandson.  I have money to get him to his mother’s but not money to get back, so I’m hitching out.  Crappy deal sez I. Where are you taking him after you pick him up?  uh….. 8 blocks from your house in Burnaby.  Yeah.  Of all the people in the lower mainland who could have stopped for her, I think I was the correct choice.  She’s a cancer survivor undergoing a second round of chemo and radiation.  I expressed sympathy and hoped she had sufficient support.

The first place was the incredibly broken down and third world trailer park between Brunette and Lougheed (there are two, this is the one that looks like chickens should be scratching in between the trailers).

There were four feral kittens about 12 weeks old under the next trailer, which had busted windows and appeared to be unoccupied.  There were two little boys bouncing unattended on a trampoline.  Yes, my classism is showing, but I watched the boys for a while and somebody had obviously trained them to stay well away from the edges as they were playing for fun and not xrays.

As we pulled up I told the woman, It’s gonna take ages to get your grandson out, I had kids myself and I know, don’t worry, I have no place to be so don’t sweat it if it takes a while.  I’m looking at the trampoline and going Cazart it’s gonna be 20 minutes at least to pull those kids offa there.  It’s a beautiful summer day and the trampoline is in the shade and they are having more fun than a barrel of otters.

Finally we achieved cooperation and got the grandson, a sweet and intelligent little boy of five out of there and I drove them in to Burnaby and dropped them off (after I rolled through a stop sign I didn’t see…. oops.  It was a three way stop in a construction zone and the sign was behind a hedge in my defence).

I hope the next time I’m feeling impulsively helpful it works out this well.