Monday, November 7, 2011

Has a Skytrain attendant pulled a gun on you?

Someone actually asked me that on Monday.

I was on my way home on the Skytrain on Monday morning. A young woman got on and asked where the train was going. We talked a bit, and it turned out she really didn't know and didn't really have anywhere to go. She was apparently originally from Winnipeg. Admitted to physical and mental disability, although of what kind, I really didn't know at the time since some disabilities are not apparent, but still very real to the person.

From what I could gather, for the short term at least she didn't have anywhere to go, and had nowhere to stay for the night. It was hard to say what sort of resources she had in her small bag, but I didn't pry. She also had curious difficulty holding onto a few free newspapers. It was unclear why, but she kept dropping them.

Anyway, I suggested she find a payphone and call the Crisis Centre to get some local resources. I told her that she could just call the operator and be connected for free. She insisted I come with her, and honestly, she seemed so clueless that I facilitated.
So we got off at Joyce Station and quickly located a phone at the street level. She asked me to make the call. Can't even make a call to the operator, apparently. I call the operator and ask to be connected. The operator said she didn't have phone numbers and for us to call 411. WTF? Luckily I knew the number for the crisis centre. Away we go, finally.

Well, not quite. The call to the Crisis Centre was very short as she apparently rejected everything that was suggested. She asked me to speak with them. I briefed the Crisis Centre on what I knew and asked for an emergency housing/shelter resource near where we were. They suggested Yukon Shelter (at 2088 Yukon Street).

All she really insisted on was to not be in the DTES. Fair enough, except it would soon be apparent that whatever was suggested, as long as it was in Vancouver, she would immediately reject, saying she didn't want to have any part of the Downtown East Side. She didn't know the geography of Vancouver, or that we were already out of downtown Vancouver, but whatever was presented to her, she didn't want.
She wanted help but rejected everything.

I knew it was futile to point this out to her, but I did anyway, to give her a sort of ultimatum -- basically, "you want help or not?"

The Crisis Centre volunteer overheard the impasse and offered to speak with her. While they talked to her (and ultimately got her to take down the number), I waved a Skytrain attendant over. I briefed him on the situation and asked if he could call the police to come and take over helping her. He said he'd get a Skytrain attendant.
Huh? Wasn't he a Skytrain attendant?

Anyway, he walked across the street to the other side of the station, apparently briefly spoke to someone, and came back. He said there was a community policing station just up the street (Collingwood CPC), not a block away.

Great idea.

The woman was now off the phone. I suggested the community policing station idea -- she could ask to use their phone to call the shelter resource (I didn't know if she had any money to spare, and I didn't ask), and she could get additional help or resources there.

All I got was even more rejection, and bizarre ones: "The police will take us hostage." "Did he [the Skytrain attendant] pull a gun on you?"

I had enough. I gave her the ultimatum. This was the help that was available, and basically, take it or leave it. When she was ready to try it, she could walk up the street to the CPC. In the meantime, I had to get on with my day. Good luck.

No comments:

Post a Comment