Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

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In Search Of The Stranger

Posted on | June 1, 2017 | No Comments

I’ve never read the Stranger. But I read about Camus recently and apparently the story follows a man who doesn’t cry at his mother’s death and kills someone without feeling bad about it. Apparently it’s a masterpiece.

I want to buy the cheapest copy possible.

I’ve checked BMV and Seekers and am on my way to Roger Millers when I notice a boy on crutches.

He is with a woman who is likely his mother. Standing over a homeless man who is lying on the ground, in a position that looks fairly typical to my experience of Toronto.

My first thought is that dude is trying to sleep and it’s a little rude to gawk at him and maybe who gives a shit about this right now and I’m on the other side of the street and maybe the book is at Roger Miller’s. Then I consider the concerned look on the mother’s face. And see the kid. With his crutches.

I cross the street. Because I want to let the mother leave with the kid.

I approach the scene. Immediately I notice the half empty bottle of rubbing alcohol next to him. And a bottle of water. And Gatorade. Hmm.

“Hey….” says the mother.

“Hi!” I reply a little too enthusiastically. “What’s going on?”

“We found him a little while ago. He’s been drinking…”

“Yeah…I can see that.”

He’s an older Aboriginal man. Not really sure if he has teeth or not because his lips are covering them, only letting me see a little bit into his mouth. His eyes are glazed, half closed.

“His cousin went somewhere…”

“Oh. To do what?”

“I’m not sure,” says the Mother.

I notice the gatorade next to him.

“Someone got him gatorade?” I ask. Orange flavor. It never tastes like actual oranges. No reason to point that out right now. A little chewable vitamin C. Which come from oranges. So I guess…

A very cute East Asian girl nods. “Yup. Thought it would help.”

“Yeah, nice idea,” I say. “So should we call an ambulance?” I ask.

The mother arches her eyebrows and grimaces in consternation. “Ummm I’m not sure because maybe the police just put him in jail and nothing much happens.”

“Probably best to call 911,” I say.  ”Because we aren’t exactly trained medical personnell and maybe they might know what to do about the rubbing alcohol.”

“I’m a social worker,” says the woman I’d previously described as the Mother and will now describe as the Social Worker.

I don’t know very much about social work. So I’m not quite sure how that’s relevant.

“Oh,” I reply.

“So I deal with stuff like this a lot. And he could just be put in jail.”

“Oh I didn’t know that,” I say. “I don’t know much about social work.”

“That’s okay,” the Social Worker replies.

I briefly wonder if she has medical training. If that’s a part of social work. Or maybe she knows that drinking rubbing alcohol is healthier than I think it is. I look at the bottle. It says for external use only.

She leans down and directly addresses the dude himself.

“What’s your name?” the social worker asks.

“Jerry,” he says.

“Do you have a last name?” she follows up.

“Jerry Big Cock,” he replies.

“What was that?” she asks.

“Not important,” I quickly interject.

I don’t think the kid heard him. And I wonder if it matters if the kid hears an older man say his last name is Big Cock. I mean really who gives a shit? I am sure he’s heard worse on the schoolground.

“Do you want to go to the hospital?” she asks.

Maybe it should be up to Jerry Big Cock on whether or not he gets treatment. I mean the bottle of rubbing alcohol doesn’t necessarily speak well of his judgment but I’m also not at all trained in this.

“Yes, please,” he says.

I take out my phone.

“I’ll call. Right now.”

The Social Worker looks at me and then back at Jerry.

“I am going to take my son,” she says. “We are having lunch.”

I nod. “Sure. I got this.”

They leave.

Mission accomplished. Which is interesting retrospectively. This wasn’t about Jerry at all. I’m trained not to care about him.

I call 911. I get to choose which service I get in contact with. I go for ambulance.

Wait for a few moments before I get on the phone with an operator.

I tell them where I am. What’s happened. They ask if he’s violent. I say no. They ask if he has a weapon. I say no. Though it’d be interesting if I didn’t mention this when they asked if he was violent.

He’s very peaceful and has a samurai sword.

“He can’t drink or eat anything.”

“Not even gatorade or water?”

“No. He should have nothing.”

“Ok.”

“We’ll be there soon.”

“Ok.”

“Call if anything changes.”

“Will do. Have a nice day,” I say. Hmmm. I wonder if you should tell a 911 operator to have a nice day. Or say things like pleasure speaking to you.

Me and the East Asian chick hang out for a bit. There a nice intimacy as she apologizes for getting the gatorade. Gatorade helps her with hangovers. I tell her I might have gotten Gatorade for him. It’s a sensible mistake. Which it is. Because anyone deserves a little credit for just stopping and trying to help in a situation like this.

I’d say 750 people walked by this corner of Toronto in the 15 minutes I became involved in it. Most looked at him with a type of Carnival amusement. No one has taken a selfie with him. But there have been these knowing smirks. Like…isn’t this just so Toronto?

It is. Cry when your mother dies but feeling anything for the stranger on the street is unnecessary.

There’s something particularly funny about a couple who slow motion walk past us eating chimney cake soft served ice creams from Eva’s. Such luxurious, pleased bystanders to this dark every day moment. Licking the ice cream. Sighing as they take a bite. And gone.

“Hey Jerry,” I say.

He looks up at me.

Not sure what the appropriate small talk is in this moment.

“Show me you’re doing okay.”

“I’m doing okay,” he replies.

I bother him every minute or so.

The East Asian girl’s friend arrives. They hug and she introduces her friend to me. It’s polite and a little odd.

This is sort of like being stuck on an elevator with a stranger. They get bored of me and start talking about their lives.

I start talking to Jerry more. Feeling maybe a little left out. It’s about ten minutes before the cops arrive.

They tell us that we can go. We all do.

The East Asian girl and her friend walk in front of me. No longer part of the same team. Off into the regular world.

Within a few minutes the memory of the incident escapes my brain and I’m wondering through a bookstore. About an hour later I feel this ache. Barely noticeable at first but there. I wonder why. It actually takes me a few hours before I remember that on this beautiful day I met a man named Jerry who drank half a bottle of rubbing alcohol. And maybe its okay I found it disturbing.

They don’t have it at Roger Miller.

I walk down to College.

In search of the Stranger.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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