Today mom and I decided to go to Metrotown. Much like Julian Assange the design of Metrotown was built somewhere in the center of Satan’s Asshole.
On the train on the way there, we had the pleasure of a woman who stopped to ask every passenger if they had change so she could buy some food. I did have change, it was about a dollar, it was all I had so I said no.
Last night I watched an episode of “What would You Do” in which an actor played a Vet who didn’t have enough money to buy groceries. Every single person in that episode stepped up – whether it was the full bill or offering an extra dollar here or there. That question has been in my head a lot lately. “What would you do if you found someone in need.” Thanks to Patrick I realized what I would do:
If you have never been to MetroTown This is the worst place on earth for someone that doesn’t like enclosed spaces, crowds and loud noises. 180 something stores, a fucking TRAIN for children (Seriously I really loath you mall designers) screaming children, fighting couples, nearly 25,000 shoppers at any given time (if not more) and oh yeah just for kicks lets add some FUCKING LOUD ANNOYING TEENY BOPPER POP MUSIC IN CASE WE HAVEN’T DRIVEN YOU FUCKING MENTAL YET. (Did I mention I loath you stupid mall designers?)
The first thing we did was grab some lunch. Subpar meal from Chronic Taco. I spent most of the afternoon wandering around and trying to find an escape hatch. I did eventually find it, but I promise you – somewhere whether you want to believe it or not – the universe was at work today. I’m not entirely certain “why” it was this particular day or this particular person but if ever I look back at my life and remember a life lesson – this will be on the list.
I want to tell you the story of my new friend Patrick.
You see as I said I do not like loud noises crowds or enclosed spaces. The entire design of Metro-Town is set up to confuse you and assimilate you into a state of Zombie-hood in order to get you to stay longer than you normally would in any other mall. It’s truly an evil place.
So my first stop after lunch (and I do mean this quite literally) was an hour and a half of walking in circles in order to find an escape.
I ended up stopping at Super Store to grab a pack of smokes, and then the dollar store to find myself a new notebook and a couple of pens.
I finally after almost two hours of screaming children, annoying people and something that smelled very close to black death escaped and found myself next to a pretty enough fountain ready to curl up and do some writing.
The funny thing is that I went to grab a smoke and suddenly the package I had -just- bought had actually vanished from my bag. I know how this will sound but the damn smokes that I had no less then thirty minutes before thrown into my bag were no longer there. I looked in every pocket I looked in every zipper – they were gone.
Back into the warzone I went.
I got lost again.
This was not looking up.
This time I went back into SuperStore and bought myself 2 packs………..Just in case.
I decided that since the exit was closer than walking around the other side of the mall towards the fountain and I needed to either escape or murder someone I took the closest exit from the center of hell that I could find.
I sat quietly, listened to some heavy metal (Black Veil Brides and Andy Black – thanks to “Angel” for introducing them to me, seriously inspiring.) and wrote about six pages – really great pages that have given me some very tender and slender bones for what I think could turn into an awesome plot line if I work it properly.
I sat quietly drinking my lovely lipton’s ice tea and writing a wonderfully handsome character – trying to decide if he’s good or evil or just a mix of both when I saw what I have to say kind of pissed me off.
It was then that I noticed a young man who looked well like your typical homeless man. He looked sad and broken. When I stop to think about it – I admit at first I didn’t really quite give a shit. However the security guards following him interested me, so I decided to take a peak at what was going on.
The young man was curled in a corner wearing shorts and his ripped t-shirt and sandals writing on a ripped piece of paper with a tiny little orange pencil.
I asked the security guards what was going on and they turned to inform me that he was not allowed on the property and was being asked to leave.
This was the moment. This was the moment I could have walked away and ignored it and moved on but something about the way the man spoke about this young innocent man pissed me off.
I looked around and noticed people of all ages either watching and taking pictures or minding their own business just as this man was – sitting outside the mall. I pointed out that he wasn’t causing anyone harm, and was in fact just sitting here like the hundred or so other people sitting outside. Why was he being singled out? I had been told that he’d just a few minutes before been yelling and screaming and smashed his own head into a wall.
“Okay ma’am but you don’t understand a few minutes ago he was bashing his head into the wall and screaming, and so now we’re going to call the police.”
“Give me just two minutes and I promise I will get him off the property.”
I explained to the security guard that he was being a jerk (my exact word) and that by no fault of his own this young man was obviously in distress and the sight of two burly security guards was not helping. In all honesty by no fault of their own the security uniform can be very intimidating when you are in a panic state and feel like you’ve lost your ability to communicate properly. Above all I understand this having been in situations very much like this one.
“what’s your name honey?”
“Patrick why don’t we go and grab something to eat and a coffee and we’ll talk okay?”
“No one ever listens, everyone always leaves.”
“Patrick I am here, I will remain with you, let’s go. I bet you are pretty hungry huh?”
Patrick looked at me like I had suddenly grown three heads.
He was very upset because he had dropped his pencil and was unable to get it, which seemed to irritate the “main” security guard even more so I gave Patrick the new note book I had just bought and one of my two new pens. (I ripped my pages out of course.)
I turned to the Security guard and told him to shut up.
“I’ve been working with people like this for years. Give me a few more minutes and you can relax”
He went on to tell me how I was impeding his job, at which point I basically shoved his job down his throat and out his ass and told him in front of everyone that he was being an ass, and needed to back off. While I understand he was doing his job – what he was really doing was scaring this young man even further, and trying to put himself in charge of a situation that didn’t need his attention any longer.
Patrick and I went to subway and I bought him two sandwiches and listened to his story.
He told me that he’d been taken into Foster Care as a young child and had no contact with his family. They kept telling him that he needed to grow up and get a place to live and figure out his life. “The thing is I was so busy being moved around no one ever taught me how to be an adult. How the fuck am I supposed to survive when I don’t know how?”
It was clear to me that Patrick suffers from disillusions, and depression and probably more things than I can count. You know what? he didn’t ask for money, he didn’t ask me for anything. He was genuinely surprised that I wanted to listen – that I gave him my phone number and money to get to Covenant house. (The ONLY Youth Shelter I know of in the GRVD Which is a God Damn Shame!)
Yes it is true. Patrick did scream and yell and make a scene outside of a mall – and yes he bashed his head into a wall. Because you see lovelies, Patrick was screaming for help and no one was listening.
Not one person in the hundreds of people who stood by and watched offered to help, or asked him what was wrong. Not even the security guards. They didn’t care – all they wanted was for Patrick to disperse and go back to wherever it was he came from so that he wouldn’t be their problem any more.
I actually understand this. Having done the work I did for fifteen years I often felt resentful and angry of people asking for help who refused to help themselves, but Patrick wasn’t doing that. He actually asked me if I could help him find a psychiatrist.
He wanted very much to get help. But no one listened.
We all have these moments. Patrick and I talked about the Universe (not God) and he asked me why no one cared. I told him I cared. He asked why he had no friends. I told him I would be his friend. He asked why no one loved him. I told him I loved him.
I am not writing this because I want you to tell me how great I am for helping a fellow human being. I am writing this because Patrick – and even the jerk Security guard taught me a lesson today.
If I hadn’t gone to MetroTown if I hadn’t gotten lost in the twelve level of hell, if I hadn’t bought smokes or that notebook (which I gave to Patrick when he ran out of paper and lost his tiny little pencil) I wouldn’t have met Patrick. I wouldn’t have realized the one thing I’ve been running from for a lot of my life. Whether or not I like it, I was put on this earth to help people.
I cannot fix their problems, or change their lives, but I can help them have a better day I can help someone who is hurting and alone feel loved and less alone. I was put on this earth, to live as if the world were what it should be to show it what it can be.
So Thank you Patrick, because I have been struggling with this for a very long time. For many many years I’ve been looking for my purpose – a purpose mind you that was right in front of my eyes the whole time.
I had the best day in the world today – because even though I spent the day being mostly annoyed I have the memory of my new friend Patrick.
I don’t exactly know if I’ll ever hear from him, but I hope and I pray that wherever he ends up it’s in a place with someone that will sit with him, and listen to him, and offer not guidance, but friendship.
Every one of us has felt alone at one point – even if we don’t scream for help at the top of our lungs sometimes we want to. We resist the urge, but the urge is there none the less. We’ve all felt as if we have no friends – as if no one loves us or cares about what happens to us.
Before I left Patrick to go help my mom with her mountain of stuff she left the mall with, I gave Patrick enough money to get on the train legally to get to the shelter and buy a cup of coffee later. It was basically what little I had left. (Mom replaced the now gone journal – with another matching the same one I gave away. Thanks mom!)
The funniest part about the whole day? I found that “missing” package of cigarettes as soon as I got home. I could have sworn it was not at all even a little bit in my bag when I went looking for it earlier.
I did try to do some more writing – but I ended up trying to meet up with a friend for a movie. That didn’t quite work out but that’s a whole other story.
All I can think about right now is Mister Patrick – as I write this I’m looking to the skies and hoping that whatever angels led me to him have led him to a safe warm place to sleep and hopefully some friends that will help him get the assistance he so badly is craving.
My question for you………..is what would you have done?
All my love