Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Meeting Place: Free laundry, showers, storage, internet, phone etc

The Meeting Place In Context

It doesn't show up in the calendar or the map because meals is what this place isn't for. In its palacial location on the west side of Bathurst just north of Queen, the Meeting Place is the perfect companion to places in the area like St. Felix, the Corner Drop-in, Scot Mission and Evangel Hall. And the Queen West Health Center is the other perfect compliment to the Meeting Place, on the west side of Bathurst just south of Queen.

Laundry Time: 11:30

Sorry, this time has changed, and the new timing is unknown.
They open the door at half past eleven in the morning, Monday to Friday, with the occasional poorly-announced exception. Guests are asked to put their names in the general sign-in sheet, and then they can sign up for laundry, showers, computers etc. The phones are on a wait-and-wonder basis.

Showers and Storage: now that's harm reduction!

The Meeting Place will actually store your valuables for free. Having somewhere to put a backpack is a big deal for homeless and precariously-housed people, so I really feel like someone deserves to be knighted for putting that in place. Same thing with the showers.

The Breakfast/shower/laundry strategy power combo moves

For extra hobo points, try this (you will need a bike):
11:00 Show up at St. Felix, grab breakfast. Sorry, this time has changed... they open at noon now.
11:25 Start waiting around the Meeting Place door.
11:35 Put your laundry in on 25 minute Quick Cycle.
11:40 Take a shower (or try to get to the second Scot Mission lunch before 11:45) and back before your wash ends. Extra points.
12:00 Put your laundry in the dryer and do some internetting.

It's tempting to work the corner drop-in lunch in there somewhere, it must definitely be possible to hit up all three places and get a really solid meal in.

The sketchiness factor

The meeting place is so, so sketchy. Guests have to overhear shouting matches, conversations about violence and criminality, and out-of-control people with each visit, but the staff is pretty amazing at keeping it just barely safe for everyone. The key is not to get into anyone else's business and not let people provoke you, because they will try to, every once in awhile. My recommendation? Take it easy on the coffee and don't count on getting there on time, having your place in line or masculinity/femininity respected, or getting what you want to eat. You want to be able to get away with this day after day for the rest of your life if necessary. So remember: don't set yourself up to have to avoid one of these places, because it could really cramp your style.


  1. I have been reading several of your articles and I thought I will leave a Short Reply: Thanks =)

    1. from the bottom of my heart, you're welcome

    2. I'd love to say that I do it out of compassion, but I actually do it out of rage. Just straight up rage. Okay, and a bit of compassion.

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  3. Ditto. Thank you so much for this.

    But if it's so sketchy, is it really that wise to leave your laundry there?

    1. No, of course not, you're not leaving your laundry there... that's part of why it sucks... because you have to stay in their shitty little laundry room, which is like a pressure cooker and doesn't have room enough for three people to wait for their laundry, while three other people try to budge in and intimidate them into giving up their machines and stuff.

  4. Hey you two, thanks so much.

    Is it wise to leave your laundry there. I mean, at best you save $5, get some free coffee and phone calls, and run into some friends. At worst, you get the scare of your life and your laundry stolen. The washing machines lock, so as long as you keep track of the time, you can get the hell out of the area for like a half hour, without having to worry about your stuff. Just watch it while it's in the dryer. Or better yet, do what I do: wait for an ultra-sunny day, and just leave with your stuff while it's still wet, and hang it up.

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