Month: November 2015

The Incredible Shrinking Job-Seeker

Storage Cleanup
My life’s worth of belongings, from a full storage area (larger image on the left) to an empty one (smaller image on the right) after I gave them all away or disposed of them.

Before I begin, some news: I managed to buy myself a little time to stay at the current location some members of my family are funding to keep me off the street. While relations remain as frosty as the wicked winter weather that has blown through the Region of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada), I do not have to be out by the 30th of November as I reported in a previous blog post and my GoFundMe initiative page.

I mentioned a while back that one of my concerns from my couchsurfing and my inability to financially support myself was that I needed to make plans if something were to happen to me. Two things I did was draft a will and prepare a last-words video. The other and more pressing concern was the amount of stuff I collected from over half-a-century of being around.

George Carlin may have made a wonderfully hilarious commentary about having SO MUCH STUFF and you NEEDING STUFF TO STORE THE STUFF THAT’S HOLDING YOUR STUFF, but he has a good point. I owned a lot of stuff, stuff that I had no space for in my current location, no longer could financially afford to store, and did not want people to be stuck with in case something happened to me. That latter part is not suicide-talk or depression-speak. Unless I return to full time employment and financial independence, my future is uncertain and my prospects less-than-great. Since all this stuff was meant for a more prosperous lifestyle during happier times and I certainly did not want to stick this on my executors of my estate, something had to be done.

Put succinctly, the stuff had to go.

I had no time to put them up for sale, and I certainly didn’t want to dump all that stuff into a landfill, so I gave it all away and to a very worthy cause: Worth A Second Look. As noted on their website, the store’s “goal is to provide the community with low-cost used furniture and assorted houseware items while keeping reusable goods out of landfills and creating opportunities for employment.”

Creating opportunities for employment? As you can imagine for obvious reasons, that’s something I can get behind.

So what did I give away? I gave away 4 servers and two Xbox consoles that comprised a home network (including the router), a multifunctional scanner/printer, towels and bedsheets (except for what I needed at my place), plates, forks spoons and knives, pots and pans, a large assortment of music CDs and movie DVD, two TVs, a microwave, a portable fridge, coffee mugs and kitchen glasses, clothing I either did not have space for or no longer had space to fit a more rotund me ( 😉 ), lots of books — science fiction, programming reference guides, psychology books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, shelves, tables, fans, chairs, lamps, a desk, plastic utility cabinets, and some things of sentimental value, in particular a wall clock my Dad gave me as a housewarming gift 25 years ago. That specific giveaway did not sit very well with some family members but what was I supposed to do? I had no room for it. I had no need for it.

It wasn’t easy doing this, giving all of this stuff away. It was like watching a replay of all the good times in your life that happened before you pitched the DVD containing them into the trash. I broke down and cried more often during that shedding of stuff than I did when my Dad died. It’s no wonder that I’m regarding this year as the worst year of my life. It’s a year I desperately want to see the backass of as it comes to a close.

I’m trying to be the logical pragmatist throughout all of this though. I needed to do this to shed some baggage so others do not have to deal with it. The one bright spot is that even though I’m not exactly winning at getting myself out of the hole I’m in despite my best efforts, at least my contributions will go towards helping those in the same boat but have a better chance than I do.

That particular comforting thought is something I can accept and gets me  through this time of my life I’ve dubbed the Dark Ages.

Thanks for reading!





Wrestling With The Angels

‘Jacob Wrestling with the Angel’ by Gustave Doré [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to write. I’m been busy giving away the last of my belongings. Yes, you heard that right but I’m not going to write about that today: that’s a post for another day. I want to share with you my take on what happened recently.

I want to expand a bit more on what I raised in an earlier post. The recent events with my family is actually an example of what is wrong with that part of the social safety net that is supposed to help the unemployed and homeless.

I strongly believe some of the people who have tried to help me in the past, such as some members of my family and the past four employment assistance centres I’ve worked with, are good people and don’t like seeing me where I am right now. That demonstrates the best in human nature and I am grateful these angels of mercy are trying to help me.

Having said this, good intentions does not mean a good understanding of how to fix the problem I’m in. While I’m always willing to accept help that offers temporary relief and support, the one thing — something I’ve repeated often in my blog, my videos and my ads — is to find work. I don’t want to receive handouts forever. I don’t want people to offer me places to couchsurf forever. I want a job and sometimes I can’t seem to get that point across to those trying to help me, and I end up getting into an emotional wrestling match with these angels. I want help in getting my problem fixed, not mask the symptoms to this problem.

So why am I getting frustrated to the point of friction about finding a job? Why does it appear — even though in fact it is not — that I’m biting the helping hand?

To answer that, let me explain what the positive benefits of having a job:

Financial self-sufficiency – I can take care of myself by paying the rent and bills and not depend on the kindness of friends, families, and even strangers to cover that.

Giving back and not taking – I’m contributing to the social programs that make Canada a great country. By working, I’m doing my part to keep businesses going through healthy consumerism that keeps other people employed. The taxes taken off a full-time paycheque go to maintaining the basic infrastructure that is necessary for a stable Canada. It pays for the retirement of those elderly who are not working. I’m not a drain but a benefit.

Psychological benefit – Working is not just earning a paycheque. I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. It also gives social contact with other people who start off as co-workers but could become friends down the road. Some people who I still call friends to this day were either co-workers or a former employer. Being unemployed is a lonely experience and some of these generous angels don’t seem to understand the psychological damage it does. They misread my frustration, my anger and despair as some sort of betraying reprisal.

Advance in my future employment endeavours – Down the road, if I am working and I do a great job of doing so, I’ll get promoted, which means an improved ROI for the company I work for, and more revenue for the government to spend on social programs.

Now, let’s get back to what I said before about this frustration being a symptom of a breakdown in the system that is supposed to get people back on their feet. I mentioned before we have people assigned to helping those out of work and the homeless who have no previous background experience. They’ve never been homeless and slept on buses, fast food restaurants, or in a park like I have. They’ve never had to couchsurf. They’ve never viewed $20 as a lot of money like I now do. They’ve never lost hope. They’ve never wonder if there was a way out of the trap they are in. They want to help but they don’t how to fix the problem.

That’s where the malfunction is, and why I’m wrestling with angels.

Thanks for reading.