On a recent cool Friday evening in February my wife and I were eating at Quiznos on 200th Street when we saw a younger homeless man. He was pushing two overflowing shopping carts by the nearby window. He soon abandoned them temporarily and shortly thereafter returned. I went outside and asked him whether he would like to come inside to warm up and have a free meal on me. He was slightly startled and then he told me that he wasn’t one to pass up a free meal. He told me that his name was “CJ”.
Once inside the restaurant, I told him to look at the overhead menu and to simply order whatever he wanted. He hesitated and after looking for a prolonged minute CJ informed me that his “eyes were not too good”. I realized that the 23 year old CJ was likely illiterate. I simply read for him the selection of hot meals and he chose the steak sub with “brown bread” because he “might as well eat healthy”.
A chosen container of milk rounded out his meal. CJ accepted my offer to sit with my wife and I while he could eat his food in a comfortable warm inside.
We learned that CJ had been sober for two years and that he never has done drugs because “they scared him”.
I congratulated CJ on his sobriety and conviction. He smiled. When asked about his background, CJ informed us that he had been homeless in Langley for four years now and that he was previously from Saskatchewan. CJ’s parents were apparently drug addicts and he had been left to basically try to raise a younger brother and sister by himself.
When gently pressed, CJ responded to me that he had previously tried to get a job but as soon as prospective employers found out that he was homeless he had been passed over in the past. We talked about the possibility of finding work and temporary shelter (and possibly work) at the Gateway of Hope shelter in Langley.
CJ was encouraged to visit them and to place some faith in the wonderful Salvation Army people who do such great community service.
CJ usually gets about one and a half hours sleep at night because he is constantly told to move on by the police as he tries to sleep in bank lobbies and other places.
As a former teacher, banker, cop, and intelligence officer, I have credible experience in assessing people. CJ is a sincere person would likely respond well if he ever was given the elusive “break” that he so wants.
If you ever see CJ in Langley he will likely be pushing around two shopping carts, wearing a toque, and be sporting yellow sweat pants.
Take a minute or two to talk with this somewhat shy and credible person. You will like him and be impressed. More importantly, if you can assist him in finding a job such as stocking shelves during the cold nights, it just might make the world of difference for this gentle human being who is overdue to receive some help.
Langley is a great community that can reach out to CJ. Catching up with CJ might make a difference in your life as well as his.
Brent Hoag, email