The Secret Lives of Diaries


Posted in Characters by secretlives on March 26, 2006

Homeless 3.jpg



I'd finished my degree and had gotten a teaching position in a community in   Northern British Columbia.  However, it was July, I was flat broke and needed money to help me start my position in September.  I found a job working in a liquor store in a very poor part of a city in the South.  And it was a revelation.


September 25, 1973

I was on unemployment for a while until I decided to find a job so as to have enough money to get started in Mackenzie.  (I will be teaching grades 8 – 12, English language and literature).  I found a job at the 6th avenue liquor store in Prince George.  I liked it for a while but am now getting tired of it.

The store is situated in the poorer section of town, consequently some of the customers are strange, and reflect a life I've never known.  They come for "Calona White Medium Sweet" – a cheap wine: $1.31, with tax (about 26 ounces).

Many of the Winos I serve have common sense wisdom that tends to be striking.  For example, a Wino was being served by the Till next to mine; an attractive blonde was in line behind him.  He turned and said something to her with his drunken manner; she berated him, and he reiterated with one of the most profound thoughts I've heard spoken in that store: "Lady," he said, "it takes people like you to make people like me."  Wow, if that isn't insight I don't know what is!

There is one short, old, hunchbacked Indian man who comes daily to buy "Villa Canadian Medium Dry Sherry": $1.25 + .06 tax = $1.31.  He is called Stinky because he smells horribly, and when he seeks service the cashiers run from him; I have often been left to serve him.  The poor fellow consistently pees his pants, and consequently smells of ammonia.

Shortly I will be going to Mackenzie to teach in the new high school there.  Rent [for a one bedroom apartment] is "phantasmagorical": $215 per month.  That is outrageous!


5 Responses to 'Stinky'

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  1. shasta said,

    “It takes people like you to make people like me.”

    Now there’s a controversial statement. Is he blaming her for his alcoholism? His marginalization in society? His poverty?

    Tricky business. I’m a political liberal, have even been accused of being “practically a socialist”, so I get how social inequities beget more social inequities.

    But it’s not HER fault he drinks.

    Age 47

  2. shasta said,

    One other thing this post made me think of. Do you know Ted Hawkins? I’ll try to post a relevant link here .
    He was a wino who was also a musician – wonderful, moving, raspy voice and guitar.

    Age 47

    (If I write that number enough I’ll eventually come to believe it!)

  3. shasta said,

    ONE more comment (feel free to combine these if you like)

    You can listen to a sample of Ted Hawkins at Amazon. I recommend
    There Stands The Glass.

    47 short yrs old

  4. secretlives said,

    You’re right – it’s not her fault he drinks. I think it’s the kind of statement that sounds something like, “You’re enough to drive a man to drink.” Not that the drinking is her fault but that the nature of her personality affects him in such a way that he decides he wants to drink in order to deal with its impact. The choice is still his. I thought that his answer was a good rejoinder. He seems to be saying that she is a symbol of the kind of experiences that contributed to his cycle of addiction.

    I’ve never heard of Ted Hawkins. I’ll check out your link.

  5. shasta said,

    My link didn’t work in the first post – try this link to learn more about Ted Hawkins.

    You know how old

    PS You put it very well about the guy in line – “she is a symbol of the kind of experiences that contributed to his cycle of addiction”. Succinct yet eloquent.

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