On Sunday I did my first shift with our homeless program and in the hours leading up to when I actually went to work, I tried to mentally prepare myself for the nasty names that I would get called and the verbal abuse that would follow. I thought about whether or not I would be safe walking to my car at the end of my shift, if I would need security to escort me to my car, what I would do if I angered the wrong person and they scratched my car, slashed my tires or broke my car windows. I think deep down inside I knew that I was being irrational, that my faith in people is so ingrained that, ultimately, I didn’t believe these things would happen but I was also trying to be realistic. When I met with the program coordinator on Friday, at the end of our meeting she made a point to tell me about the names that’d she’d been called, the racial slurs, the threats to sexually assault her, harm her and of course, kill her. Or about the times her own car had been scratched, slashed and smashed.
I tried to prepare, prepared my witty retorts to the offensive insults I was warned to expect, lowered my expectations until they were no longer expectations but instead, a sort of resigned suspicion.
I spent almost seven hours in the program, preparing the dorms, doing intake, serving food, wiping tables and talking to the clients.
Out of the 75 clients we helped, only 3 or 4 of them misbehaved and for the most part, they ignored me expect for the man that was drunk on rubbing alcohol and Listerine who leered at me and inquired how I was doing. The rest of the clients made a point to talk to me, ask me how I was making out, was I enjoying myself, was I learning lots, would I come back again next week. A tall man, neatly dressed, wearing a hat that was very much Jimmy-Stewart-eque, tried to regal me with stories of from his boyhood in which he owned the ice while playing hockey back in Saskatchewan. Another client, still practically a boy himself, called me Miss and invited me to sit and watch the movie with him.
They called me Miss, and Blondie and Chiclets. They called me Tawny and thanked me graciously for being there.
They didn’t scratch, slash or smash my car.
I took the train home this evening, after a very long week that was made that much worse by the fact that my sleep schedule was thrown off from working late Sunday night, getting up early Monday and not being able to sleep Tuesday. I was so busy that I worked through my lunches, stayed late, snapped at coworkers. I looked forward to this evening, knowing that I was taking tomorrow off, that I was going to pick up Subway on the way home, curl onto the couch, watch a documentary with Tay, and wait for Project Runway.
Then I got off the train, braced myself against the -20 winds, hurried to the car, threw my bag into the trunk, walked around the car and stopped, wondering how I could have possibly left my window open. And then I heard the glass crunch beneath my feet, saw the remaining shards of glass stuck to the door frame, saw the glint of more broken glass onthe seat.
Here’s the thing. Of the two hundred or so cars that park at the train station, our car is probably in the bottom 10 percent of cars that are parked there. There’s nothing whatsover tempting about our car, nothing that would give a person any reason to want to break in. That, combined with the fact that there was absolutely nothing missing – the cds or my sunglasses or my Lulu jacket – makes me think that someone probably didn’t break in.
Do I think that maybe, somebody during the day parked next to me and either upon exiting or entering their car, possibly slammed their door into my door, maybe a result of the strong winds that blew all day long?That maybe their door hit my door with enough force to smash the glass? Do I think that happened?
I know our car is not worth breaking into -there was nothing worth stealing visible anywhere. Tay asked me if I pissed anyone off on the drive to the station – it’s literally a 4 minute drive from driveway to station, mostly side streets. Four lefts and a right. I was early this morning so I didn’t do anything that I might otherwise do on a day when I’m running late. Like go through a four way stop before it’s my turn, and would THAT really justify someone smashing my window? If it wasn’t a failed break and entry and it wasn’t a irrationally angry driver seeking vengenance, then yeah, maybe it was someone that accidentally smashed my window, who either got on the train or into their car and drove away, who didn’t leave a note accepting responsibility and apologizing for just how crummy it was for me to get off the train, in the dark, in the cold, and be faced with smashed glass at my feet.
And yet, earlier this week, not even a week before, I sat there and allowed myself to worry about the prospect of a homeless person smashing my car window, amd then my car window actually does get smashed and in all likelihood, it was a person that drives a nicer car than mine, takes the Go train daily at $6 a pop, has a job downtown, maybe even on Bay Street and lives in my neighborhood.
Shame on me for thinking what I thought, which is why the karma gods are tsking, but shame on that person for not even leaving a simple note and for ruining my night, my day off tomorrow and above all else, my faith that the people that I live amongst are good people.
Update: I called Go transit today to report the damage to the car and to see if they’d received a report from anyone who might have seen something. Dispatch on their security line said an officer would return my call to fill out a report and within 30 minutes, my phone rang. It would appear that someone actually did try and break into the car – three other cars plus mine had been broken into yesterday. One of the other cars had nothing stolen, a stereo was stolen from another and the GPS from the other.
I don’t know if knowing that someone didn’t accidentally smash the window and just walked off makes me feel any better – I’m annoyed by the fact that they broke the window, and I’m annoyed that it ended up being for no reason, since they didn’t find anything worth stealing. There’s been the odd time I’ve left Charlotte in the glove box and sometimes the faceplate to the stereo as well – when I first saw the smashed window I thought about those two things and if I’d remembered to take them from the car Sunday night when I got home from work and it was after midnight – I seriously thought for a moment that I’d been too tired to remember to remove them but when I got home and checked my other bag, both the faceplate and Ipod were there. I’m grateful for that, because it would have really sucked to have to have replaced the stereo along with the glass. And I would have beem FURIOUS if Charlotte had gone missing, even though she’s banged up and I use Miranda more, Charlotte has all my music on it, some of which I still haven’t transferred onto Miranda.
Regardless, Tay thinks it was probably kids and if it was, there a bunch of miscreants and I’m still furious, mostly now because this is not a neighborhood with low-income housing and street kids who have to steal things to get their next meal.