Category Archives: Hmmm

a Strange look

I fell into a discussion about ‘bait’ cars the other evening. How to recognize a bait car, precautions to take just in case you judged wrong and the car you stole turned out to be a bait car and you needed to be able to escape the car.

It was a simple straightforward and interesting discussion I was having with a fellow homeless person. Now I was not, nor do I believe was my conversational partner, planning to run out and steal a car. It was just an interesting conversation on a wet night, taking place where a local church was providing food and clothing to the homeless – as they do every week on that evening. One of their newer members was sitting where he could listen and when I glanced his way he had a rather strange look on his face. I suppose it sounded like we were planning to go out and steal cars. His look suggested he could not quite believe what he was hearing, that the thought that people who needed money for food and/or shelter would consider stealing had never occurred to him. It did give me a chuckle at the time.

It also made me wonder what politicians or the public are thinking sometimes. OK – I concede that getting politicians to think is probably a forlorn hope, but I still have hopes the public can think on this subject if one can get in front of them information such as this blog. Just recently a rumour (true or not I cannot say) had the government planning to start to kick a large number of people off the welfare rolls. Which I suppose they spin to get public applause and in hopes that by pulling out this old tattered ploy they could get voters to forget all the idiocy the current government is and has embraced.

I have had some cold hungry days and it is still early winter. I know that get me cold, hungry and desperate enough – morals and honesty be damned. Even a warm cell and 3 meals a day beats cold starvation “free” on the streets. Could that be the provincial government plan? Starve the homeless and the poor enough to commit crimes, arrest them, lock them in jail and voila! The streets are free of homeless. Well until government policy causes more unfortunates to fall into the clutches of the system. Or those in jail are freed for lack of jail space or the end of their sentences. Then you have more homeless than you started with. But, the government does gain a bogeyman to spook the electorate with at the next election (and avoid running on what they actually did). It is an extremely expensive course of action and when you look at what it would accomplish – NOTHING – it is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. But as recent news reminds us, this is a government that has no hesitation in wasting tax dollars gain political advantage or in pursuit of their ideology.


As our planet sails its’ orbit upon the solar seas,
At the old years’ waning, the new years’ dawning,
Words to contemplate,
Setting goals to aspire to in 2006

A man should look for what is, and not what he thinks should be.
Albert Einstein

If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it
Anthony D’Angelo

We have in fact, two kinds of morality, side by side: one that we preach, but do not practice, and another that we practice, but seldom preach.
Bertrand Russell

The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.
Helen Keller

If you think that you are where you are just because you worked hard, it is easy to become self-righteous and make classist moral judgments about others.
Charlotte Bunch

Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.
Mohandas Gandhi

Anyway, no drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we’re looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn’t test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.
P. J. O’Rourke

It is partly to avoid consciousness of greed that we prefer to associate with those who are at least as greedy as we ourselves. Those who consume much less are a reproach.
Charles Horton Cooley

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.
Jiddu Krishnamurti

Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.
Georg C. Lichtenberg

I am Thinking Therefore I Exist

René Descartes aside, lately I have taken to looking into mirrors and other reflective surfaces to make sure I have a reflection, as a check that I actually exist. The mayor, city council and city bureaucracy deny my existence ‘Abbotsford does not have a homeless problem it needs to address’ their attitudes, words and actions proclaim. As someone in need of assistance who works hard at the struggle to find employment, the BC Liberals deny my existence ‘They are all bums who do not want to work’. So some days I need to see my reflection to assure myself that yes, I am, no matter how hard the politicians attempt to deny my existence … and the help that would get me back on my feet.

The Paradox of the Screw-up

If I had only known: I could have embraced screwing up

I have observed that in having a screw-up enter your life it is preferable to have it happen early, the earlier the better. This makes sense to me. The younger you are the more options you have in getting back on your feet. You can take 8 hours of physical labour or stand on your feet for an 8 hour shift, both of which I have done when I was so much younger. I have found, through my recent experiences, that employers are not willing to hire you full time one you are a ‘mature’ worker. I can certainly understand and except this behaviour, even if I do not like it. Although to be honest, I have serious doubts about my ability to be on my feet for 8 hours straight at this point of my life, a fact that tends to make me much more understanding. I suspect that the WCB also contributes to their caution, they see a walking claim caused by a lifetime of wear and tear on my body. So if you life tanks at an earlier age you have more options in the job market, which makes sense.

A small paradox I found was that I was and am surprised at how much of a liability experience can have. You would think that experience would be an asset in ones job search. My experience has been that it in fact works against you in the job market. There are numerous jobs out there that I have applied for that had I just been starting or only had a few years of experience I would have gotten. I have heard the statement “you’re overqualified for the position” so often I have fond thoughts of throttling the next person you issues that statement. When I tell this to people they say “Oh, they just do not want to pay you”. I certainly hope this is not true, since it does suggest some negative things about employer – employee relations. I also hope it is not true as I certainly would not expect to be paid at the level of my experience but at the level of the position – OK maybe at the higher end of the range but still in relation to the job I was doing. Still, reality is that I would have been better to be in my current state of unemployment and homelessness earlier in my career.

Sue? It just occurred to me that maybe I should sue the federal government for age discrimination. There are many programs for training or schooling those under 30, but once you are over thirty you are out of luck. That’s ageism! I should sue! Actually, this is an area that needs a little though and review. In the old economy, older workers were usually situated in a job or company and finished out their working career with that company. In our current economy, more and more older workers are finding themselves out of work late in their working lives and finding they cannot get a position in their old career/job. Unfortunately for them finding retraining or education programs is difficult. This is another argument for messing up early in life.

But the BIG paradox is that you are far better off to be a royal screw-up than you are to run into one problem later in your working life. There are programs out there that will help you is you have been on and off UI or in and out of work. For these programs it does not matter if you were laid off or fired, just that you cannot hold a job. They will pay to send you back to school for up to two years – at their expense. Now it is not easy to access these programs, not in the sense that they are trying to turn you down, but in the sense that they want to make sure you are serious and willing to do the work. Which is a good idea and a legitimate screening tool. However, there are no similar programs for people who have been good workers throughout their working life, until they ran into whatever difficulty it was that rendered them in their current circumstances. This is aggravated by the fact that as noted above, experience can be a significant barrier to finding a job. There are courses of study that I would love to pursue that, together with my background and experience, would allow me to find employment in an interesting, challenging and creative position. But sadly, as I have found ou,t there are not programs for those of us who were good workers. Sadly I failed to realize, before reaching this point in my career, that it would be far more advantageous to regularly screw-up than to do a good job.

So, as I reflect upon the Paradox of the Screw-up I can only regret that I didn’t appreciate the advantages of being a poor employee vs. the disadvantages of being a good employee. At least for purposes of getting help for schooling and career change for the purpose of becoming a sought after employee.

par·a·dox n. :

  1. One exhibiting inexplicable or contradictory aspects
  2. That which is apparently, though not actually, inconsistent with or opposed to the known facts in any case
  3. A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true
  4. An assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, though based on a valid deduction from acceptable premises