This is MY Area

Snowsuit Lady at King and Garfield seems to be stirring up quite a bit of heat lately. She “hitchhikes” there from dawn till dawn, regularly trying to get into my car even though I come and go from the cafe five times a day.

Local businesses and residents call the cops more and more frequently. Not sure what went on between her and some young kids that got people up in arms. Her “guy” went into the buisness next door to tell them to back off. Today the air was let out of the tires of my car. Yes, I’m jumping to conclusions. I know.

After moving the car I decided to have words with her and found a police woman on the corner instead who warned me that Snowsuit Lady has a history of violence and communicable diseases; best to keep your distance. I didn’t see her all afternoon.

Then on the way home tonight I see she has moved from out front of my cafe to the end of my street. So I kept my distance. And I wrote down the license plate of the car that stopped. It took off. She got mad and started yelling all sorts of things. Like “this is MY area.”

“Am I interfering with your business?” I asked her. She gave me her opinion about her business. I told her it’s not her business I object to, but the violence that she is bringing into the neighbourhood. She gave me a long song and dance about how she has never assaulted anyone in her life. She “WROTE half the bible,” she says. Don’t know what that means.

Eventually her guy came along. He got mad. Called me all sorts of names. What has to happen before something changes? I’ve heard the stories about the association in the next neighbourhood where someone is doing a thesis on vulnerable populations and that people like me – well, I wasn’t one of those people till today – people like me are intolerant.

“Punch her in the face!” Her guy said to her.

She wound up and stopped short of my face. “She’s gonna beat your face in!” he said.

“What are you, crazy?” he said to me when I just stood there. “Get out of here or I’m going to kick your ass!”

He wound up and kicked at me but also stopped short.

“What’s the matter with you?” he yelled in my face wen I didn’t move. “Why aren’t you leaving?!”

“I live here,” I told him.

They went the other way.

This is not YOUR area. This is OUR neighbourhood.

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8 thoughts on “This is MY Area

  1. What is WRONG with people today? If the world ended, who would we affilitate with?
    WHY violence? Can’t we all just get along? Or are so many people truly psychotic? It’s all too scary – buy a gun or run away.

  2. Ooooh, I didn’t realize this was Hamilton (Ontario?). I grew up there for far too long. Why is it still so full of hoplesness?

  3. This is very unfortunate. There seems to be quite a bit of press discussing the rights of the homeless, drug addicted, and prostitutes. What is not being discussed is what should be done when the rights of people in a community clash and cannot be aligned. It can be argued that “snowsuit lady” has a right to be on the street. However, you also have a right to feel safe on the street. Your rights and “snowsuit ladies” rights are in conflict.

    Who’s right gets defended? Perhaps we’ve allowed political correctness and sympathy overshadow our own needs for safety and security. How do we effectively communicate that the rights of people who contribute to their community should be held higher than those who do not?

  4. Ouch! I have to say that I found myself wincing at some of the comments that have been left.

    Ya ya, I’m one of those bleeding heart social workers, always trying to stick up for the vulnerable in society.

    I understand that people are upset about these “undesirables” in their neighbourhood, but the answer is not that easy.

    Many of these people have significant mental health issues, and as someone who works in the field I can tell you that services are sorely lacking.

    Instead of wishing these people would become invisible, why not lobby for better services?

    Everytime I pass a homeless person or a sex trade worker I think to myself “There but for the grace of God go I”.

  5. i live in a Hamilton neighbourhood with prostitution at the top of my street. it bothers me to see it, not because I think of it as undesirable, but I think of the lack of choices some women experience. there is a kind of prostitution where women sell their bodies for thousands of dollars; that’s not the kind of prostitution we see here. the women here, it seems, must be so strung out on drugs not to realize how horrible their life is. to be doing menial, yet degrading, sexual acts, just to get their next hit, all the while avoiding brutality from their “owners.”

    i, too, work in a field where I often care for Hamilton’s less fortunate. some times prostitutes. i am involved, whenever possible, in endeavours to bring more services to Hamilton. yet, my compassion and energy feels strained when one of my family members is physically threatened and emotionally harassed by a member of this group. i try to avoid segregating people into groups, but let’s face it, we are all guilty of it, and it’s almost unavoidable when discussing matters of society.

    of all people, Rebecca is one of the most committed members of society, striving to make Hamilton a better place for everyone, not just her own kin. that makes it all the more horrible that she has been the target of violence.

    • I didn’t in anyway mean to excuse the woman’s behaviour or to insinuate that Rebecca, or anyone else for that matter, should feel threatened. I did not intend to target Rebecca in my previous response.

      The comment that I found most disturbing was under reply #3;
      “How do we effectively communicate that the rights of people who contribute to their community should be held higher than those who do not.”

      Should we not all have the same rights? Who is to judge who contributes to society and who doesn’t?

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