Monday, May 19, 2014

Victoria Day 2014

Well, TDIN sent out their Victoria Day 2014 Meal List like weeks ago... sorry it only ended up here the day of, and halfway through at that.

Of course, that only covers a few of the drop-ins. Is The Stop open today? Who knows. Would they put it on their site, their twitter, their facebook or any of the other easy-to-update platforms that they do use, if they were closing or if they were staying open? Who knows. Would they put up their list of closed days somewhere? Absolutely not. Now, the last time I went there, all the staff were saying "wow it's so dead today, probably because it's a holiday and everyone must think we're closed." Now, would that little insight ever have a chance at making its way towards policy that informs clients about WHETHER THE SHIT IS OPEN OR NOT? WHETHER THAT TTC PASS IS ABOUT TO BE WASTED OR NOT? Why would they, right? Why? Hungry people don't use the 'net right? You can't even find The Stop's twitter page from their site, all you can do is share them via twitter. Same with Facebook. Would their phone be picked up when they're open? If it doesn't get picked up, does that mean anything? Would they deign to put in schedule changes on their answering machine? Would they bother to put up a note on the door like "sorry we're closed today, here's a list of the five closest meal programs which are open"? Let's see... in five years of this bullshit, I have seen that exactly twice. Most of the time it's no note, nobody hanging out with extra sandwitches and tokens, no suggestions, just a locked door with their hours of operation staring you in the face, telling you the door should be open and there should be people there. DON'T BREAK ANYTHING! Your behavior, as usual, is the only thing that matters, and you're too poor to be allowed to become angry. So just... wait 'til you have money again before getting pissed off. Just wait for cheque day, get all your cash out, go on a shopping spree so you're not poor for a day, go in there all looking and feeling all rich and shit, and THEN get angry. That's OK. But no. When you need foor or whatever, you're not allowed to be frustrated when you're treated like shit. These agencies are basically people's opportunity to have vulnerable, hungry, poor people to pick on. Anybody who wants to bully "street" people has this perfect opportunity, and a lot of those opportunities pay pretty well! And of course, as I said, they have unlimited leeway in terms of hurting our feelings, demeaning and humiliating us, etc, just like police, except they can always just say "ok we're banning you" and then one of your food sources is gone.

And, of course, will TDIN dig up the help it needs in compiling comprehensive, accurate, let's say useful listings? Well, since they're not accepting any help doing it for free, it's probably not likely it'll become the major part of a paid position anytime soon. Right now it's one of the tasks that their main co-ordinator has to bust through whenever they have the chance. The previous person who did it never found it easy to come up with something good, and the current person doesn't either. So, again, from TDIN, we do not matter - the list is for funders, not us. It's there to be there, and if it leads us to food as a side-effect, that's nice. But it exists to be pointed at and held up, not read and used.

At this point, I'm hungry, I'm frustrated, and I'm not going to bother trying to find any of these things out today. I'll just not go, hunker down and try to live off what's lying around. Thanks to The Stop, and pretty much every other place, for making sure I have no idea what I'll find when I ride up every time I visit. Thanks a fucking million. The extra uncertainty is just what my life needs. Why would I want to know whether any of the stuff I'm heading to is actually open? I mean, part of the charm of poverty is the serendipity, the unexpected, being thrown to and fro like a leaf in the wind... I mean, how could they think to take that away from us? No, poverty's gotta be kept adventurous. Where's the fun in knowing where your food's coming from? Unless you're keeping emergency rations around, you're not really living baby. So yeah, my tone comes from a place of powerlessness and hunger. I'd love to hear all about how offensive these words are to the great men and women who make The Stop a wonderful place to get food. But my own experience there has never seemed to matter to anyone there - nobody has responded properly to any of my feedback. I've told about four people, over the course of two years, that their catchment area map, which use to figure out whether they're close enough to use The Stop's food bank, is cropped in a way that makes it look like half the clients can't go there. So for two years I thought I was out of the food bank catchment area. So of all the times I got told that my feedback will be passed along and they'll print out new maps, I still have to tell every single person not to trust their map, when I'm advocating the food bank to people. So I have to disclaim it to every single person I tell. So... I'm supposed to overlook that kind of thing, and decide, oh that's not evidence of the attitude towards the clients? Right. Just like with everywhere else, right? Oh yeah, I'll just give everybody the benefit of the doubt forever, but do me this favor: somehow make sure that map never ever gets updated, so the clients know our place and that are constantly reminded that we're scum, and we're not the clients, we are the product. The funders are the clients. The only communications that get double-checked are the ones that go to them. The communications that we get are just part of the evidence that needs to be there for funders to see. So they need to see that there's catchment area maps for people to access - that's critical - but they don't have to work, they don't have to be accurate, they don't have to help, they just have to be physically there to be seen by funders.

So now I'm starting to see what a lot of poor people I know have been grumbling about in terms of being exploited and taken advantage of... that's where all the lack of client-facing quality service is coming from! Now I get it.

This is what the holidays are all about. You can't afford to be with your family, it's too late in the month to do anything with friends, so you basically hope to see the TDIN list in time and then head to whichever one of those drop-ins is closest and just pray you can deal with the overcrowding. I can't, not today, so I'm gonna opt for going a bit hungry and living off bullshit today. Just like... peanut butter sandwitches, like yesterday. Because yeah, all these places that are listed by TDIN as open are gonna get totally crushed. No point. Plus everyone's already pissed because the first place they went to was closed.

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