I met him around 2005 in Toronto. He sat bumming money on the sidewalk at 205 Spadina. From what I could see he was a 1 legged alcoholic crack addict.
I would step over and around him on my way to work where I was the caretaker of a commercial building that housed empathetic organizations such as: Canada Helps, Roots of Empathy and the David Suzuki Foundation. Most of the the people who worked at these organizations stepped over Joseph too, during the course of their work day.
After 2 weeks of stepping over Joseph and choking on the hypocrisy, I asked Joseph what he wanted. He said, ” I need a place to live and I’d like an electric wheelchair. ”
It took 7 months to get him a place to live and many calls to his city staff worker who I never met. A week after Joseph was supposed to move into his place he was still on the street. I asked him why… He told me he didn’t know how or where to get the key. I called his worker and strongly suggested he could deliver Joseph his key. The worker said. ” He’s able bodied… He can pick it up himself. ”
” Can you tell me what’s able bodied about an alcoholic crack addict with 1 leg? ” I asked. After a long pause he managed. ” I guess you have a point. ”
Joseph died a few years ago. I lost contact. A friend of his told me and thanked me for my efforts.
He told me he lost his leg because of a snake bite somewhere in West Africa, where he was from.
It’s this that I think of when I think of how the government spends tax dollars