May 01, 2015 - Alex (an update)

May 01, 2015 - Alex (an update)
I had one of those unexpected-things-are-happening-and-I-might-panic mornings. I haven’t said anything publicly, but back in February, I quit my full-time job. I want to be able to focus more on what drives my passion and feeds my soul. Of course, The Stranger Project, meeting people and writing are what I'm passionate about. Photography as well. Networking and Social Media have long been interests of mine, and my hope is to generate an income by taking on clients as a Social Media Manager. 


So this morning, when I realized my internet had been disconnected, I kind of freaked out. It was an interesting observation, because I’m trying to be aware of my time spent online. Everything in balance. But going on a diet doesn’t mean you have to stop something all together, right? 


I had made arrangements for my internet bill, and didn’t keep my part of the deal. I agreed to make a payment yesterday, and just didn't get around to it. So I had to scramble today, head downtown to an in-person retail outlet for my service provider, and plead my case. The customer service representative was my hero of the morning. He not only talked me down off the counter,  he also figured out a way for me to get my service back, while still making a smaller payment. 


I had some work to do for a client, so I came back home to get to work. I hadn’t intended to write a story today. As I was walking up the street, I saw Alex sitting at a bus stop (from Day 241 - August 29, 2014 - see link in comments below). I went and sat down next to him and said hello. He gave me a blank stare, and didn’t say anything. I reminded him that we had talked last year a few times and that I had written about him for my project.

“No, not at all,” he said, face deadpan. I was certain he would have remembered me, but he shook his head and said “I don’t know who you are.” I smiled, realizing he was pulling my leg.

“It’s Colin, isn’t it?” he asked, laughing. 


“I’m doing okay, but living in hell,” he said when I asked how things were going. He had lived alone for over twenty years in the same apartment. Misfortune, and getting laid-off from a job of twenty-five years in camera repairs, had changed his life. He was homeless for a few years, and then got into an SRO (Single Room Occupancy hotel).

“It’s a nightmare. The system is backwards. They make you feel like there’s a chance of getting into something decent and then they end up treating you like you're just a number. The place I’m at is dreadful, it’s noisy, dirty and like living in hell,” he said. 


“It really does effect your well-being when you’re not happy with where you’re living,” he said calmly.

“In my conundrum and my doldrums, I get into procrastination. I don’t do the things I needed to do yesterday, to look after tomorrow. I passed on three pounds of frozen shrimp yesterday as well. One of the restaurants had thrown it out. You know, if it goes one day over the use-by date, they don’t want it. It was still frozen solid, but I just couldn't the lid up far enough (to get into the dumpster), because it was locked. And I couldn’t quite grab it,” he said. He spends his days digging for bottle, cans and whatever food scraps he can find. He likes to keep busy. 


“The past, the present and the future,” he said.

“You know, I was thinking about this last night. I try to get ‘past’ the ‘present’ so I can make it to the ‘future.’ But it’s hard sometimes to let go of some of the thoughts and memories. They get stuck in there," he said, pointing at the back of his head.

"I’d hope I could get rid of them and make way for new stuff,” he said, with some contemplation. 


He was the right person, at the right time to run into. As always happens.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said.

“We might not know it at the time, or for a while, or ever know why. But there’s always a reason.” 


I asked if I could take picture of the two of us and write about running into him.

“Well, I’m getting recognized more and more all the time. I don’t really know, news items, and stories about me,” he said smiling as I took our photo. Alex likes to joke around.


“If it takes an hour to dig a hole,” he asked,

“Then how long would it take to dig half a hole?” I laughed and told him I’d play along and guessed half an hour.

“Don’t be silly. You can’t dig half a hole," he said laughing at me. He stood from the buss top bench we were sitting on.

"It was nice chatting with you again. You take care, I’ve gotta get going. I'll see you again, Colin!” #notastranger

Today’s story is sponsored by Moii Cafe, 2259 Cambie Street, Vancouver