Saturday, April 28, 2018


I had to climb the porch stairs in the dark in order to verify the address of the giant old house before returning to my New Old Clunker at the curb in order to fetch my big old offering and the remote control that goes with it.

“Does it have a built-in VHS player!” Muzic Wizard had messaged me upon seeing the ancient catalogue image I sent him.

“It does indeed,” I replied. “And I can’t promise there’s no cheesy 80’s porno tape jammed inside it.”

“Oh the porno tape would be a plus.”

So now I’m lugging the beast up a couple short flights of creaky stairs as the smell of pot grows stronger.

Muzic Wizard answers the apartment door barefoot and slit-eyed. “Cool!” he says and begins checking out the input/output ports at once. “Yeah, this’ll work.”

“Oh, a TV!” says his girlfriend, appearing in the doorway.

They are both grateful for this contribution to the nostalgic art installation they will construct for the 3-day In The Soil festival. But I am just as grateful for the opportunity to be rid of it. We are all happy.

I journey back to Scooterville, catch a short sleep and arrive at Grandma’s in time to get us to breakfast at the nearby diner where Uncle and Aunt and Aunt’s husband await and where I counted on using a $10 coupon as my contribution. Instead they whip out a stack of 2-for-1 coupons. I am teamed up with Aunt’s husband and he declares that he will pay our bargain bill.

“I must accept,” I say, and report to them these direst of employment circumstances. Ye Olde Security Company seems to have me down to seven shifts per month. I am getting aggressive in the search for a new or second employer - if I haven’t mentioned that.

As the gang departs I see that Aunt’s husband has left a mathematically-justified three dollar tip. I want five left instead but I have no toonie to add; just a single twenty dollar bill. I ask Aunt if she can make change.

“Hold on,” she says, and fetches the requisite small bills from the waitress in exchange for her own twenty. She gives them to me but refuses my own twenty in exchange. Again I have no choice but to accept. Then she reaches into her wallet.

“No!” I say, but she presses another $40 into my hands and I am too choked up to debate.

I then go to meet -- Damn. What excellent nickname do I have for the sight-challenged Circles program director who exudes kindness and sweet music everywhere he goes? Soul Man? That will do for now. I meet with Soul Man and drive him to his appointments for the afternoon and take part in them also. I do this for him one day a week. It’s unclear if I will ever begin to receive mileage reimbursement for this but it doesn’t matter. I track the miles for now and find ways to absorb charity which I convert into gas money for this purpose.

We wrap things up just after three PM which puts me at the Good Shepherd Centre just in time to rub elbows with Scooterville’s homeless and enjoy a free hot meal which today is weiners (premium jumbo weiners even!) and beans over rice with a simple salad and balsamic dressing. I skip the dessert and koolade and choose water.

I’m agog at the great many volunteers who are cooking, serving, busing and… shepherding. What a beautiful contribution. And at times surely a challenging or even dangerous one.

My role as a Circles volunteer has much expanded of late as has my health and financial deficits. It is with a special warmth that I find myself slipping into this alternative economy of the heart.

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