Day 330 - Jed (3rd person approached)
November 26, 2014 - Jed was working when I first walked past him. He was looking after a retail outlet, and when I spotted him, he was reading a book. At the same time, he was being very attentive, looking up from his book as I walked past, to say hello. I circled back to ask if he would chat to me, knowing full well he might say no, on account of the 'work' factor. He said we could chat, and I assured him that his customers would come first. No sooner had we started our chat, and within a matter of seconds, a customer approached. Then another. I sat down nearby while Jed worked his retail magic. We had to stop chatting a few times while he helped out each customer that had questions. Jed was able to switch gears easily, and no one missed out on anything. That takes skill.
Jed was born in of Heber Springs, a relatively small town in Arkansas.
“I’m a middle child. I have an older sister, two years older than I am. I also have a younger brother who is seven years younger. Even though my brother was so much younger, we still hung out together. I occasionally wanted to just smack him, but we got along well. I grew up on a crop farm. There were always chores to be done. Helping out, with not only our farm, but the relatives farms that were nearby as well. My Grandmother owned two restaurants, so we’d go to the lie fishing, to supply the fresh catch of the day, for her kitchens,” he said.
“We were raised with the Church of Christ. Both of my parents had their own faith,” Jed told me. He wasn’t particularly fond of school.
“I started in track and field when I was about ten years old. I continued on with running for years,” he said. Jed’s parents divorced when he was fourteen years old.
“My sister had already moved out to go to college. My Dad was my best friend, so I went to live with him and my younger brother lived with my mother. After that point everyone spent time examining their own personal beliefs and supports,” Jed told me.
“I dropped out of school. It just held no interest for me. My father was the President of the local school board, so, he was disappointed,” he said. One day, Jed arranged to just go in and take the GED (General Education Development) certificate examination. He passed. ‘I went back to school later so that I could get my diploma as well,” he said smiling.
Moving out of his father's home at seventeen, Jed got a job delivering pizza’s.
“I did that for a while, and then left to get into construction. I did bricklaying and then got into carpentry,” he said. At the ripe old age of just twenty years old, Jed followed a family tradition and joined the military.
“I went into the US Army. My grandfather, my father and my mother had served and it was a good place to get three hots and a cot,” he said, smiling. I had to ask what ‘three hots and a cot’ meant.
“It's three hot meals and place to sleep, plus I got paid for it,” he said.
“I trained to be a helicopter flight crew chief and did basic maintenance. I looked after fuel levels, map planning and maintenance. I was also the door gunner while we were in flight. I was assigned to the downed aircraft rescue. We would out go to find a location where a plane had gone down, and we’d police that area. I saw a lot during my seven years of active duty. It was pretty intense at times,” he said.
“My contract was up and my father wanted me to come home and take over the family business. He had worked for Cessna as an engineer working on the design of airports in Wyoming. When he moved back to Heber Springs, he got into real estate as an appraiser. I went back home and that's what I did for about three years, until my father passed away,” Jed told me. He then spent some time trying to figure out what he wanted to do.
“I needed to get away from Arkansas. I sold almost everything I had and put the rest of my belongings into my vehicle and drove. I headed to Portland. Except there wasn’t any work to be had. I ended up selling my vehicle to buy food. I wound up homeless and living on the streets. It was tough going. I certainly met some characters during that time,” he said. Jed was experiencing some effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) while living on the streets. The United States Veteran Affairs did what they could to help Jed. Fortunately drugs and alcohol were never an issue for him.
“It was another vet(eran) that I met who offered me a job. He wasn’t homeless, but he was able to relate to what I had gone through. He gave me a job, and with my very first paycheque, I got a place to live,” he said. We chatted about how sometimes only a person who has experienced what you have can relate. And the difficulty of trying to find a job when you're homeless.
"You can’t get a home with no job, and it’s hard to get a job when you’re homeless."
Jed continued working in Portland for the next year and a half.
“I was doing finishing carpentry. I met a woman at a beer festival one weekend. She lived in Vancouver and was just in Portland for the weekend. But I guess I used my southern charm to win her over,” he said, a little sheepishly. They started dating, fell in love and Jed eventually moved to Vancouver, to be with his now girlfriend.
“I’ve only been here for about three-and-a-half months,” he said. He had done some carpentry work for his girlfriend's mother.
“With the Christmas season approaching, her mother asked if I wanted to help out with a retail outlet for the holidays. I’ve never worked in retail before. I like to try new things that I’ve never done, so here I am,” he said.
“You’ve got to take chances in life. Try things out. Those who don’t take any risks, get the least rewards.” #notastranger