Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mr. P.'s Story

The beautiful courtyard of Mr. P.s early days here is gone. This is what it looks like now.

Mr. P. was a World War II Vet. Like a lot of war Vets from WWII, the war might have been over for six plus decades, but there were parts of it that had been with him for all those decades and still remain. And he suffers from shell shock. He moved here when 2100 Russell Road was a Seniors Residence. He lived alone in his 5th floor apartment for years. He came here with the thought that this was going to be his home until God came for him.

His days were filled with his neighbours - other seniors like himself, and the social structure they had built for themselves over the years. A quiet, somewhat introverted gent, who, had he not been invited to sing in his wonderful tenor voice, a person could forget he was there. His days included sitting on his balcony and taking in the fabulous courtyard. It was beautifully cultivated - some of the tenants were pretty good gardeners and they turned the courtyard into the envy of many a senior living elsewhere. And he had his Church.

I would often see him sitting on the bench at the door, waiting for his ride to a Church service function. If I close my eyes for a second, I can still see him, sitting on his walker at the door, his briefcase leaning against the wall. His briefcase held his Good Book. We would say hello and a few words about the weather. A few more words about my dog and his ride would whisk him away.

Then the 'mixed' brand of tenants started coming. Several of them were young, well they were young to him. The days of not worrying if you left your door unlocked were over. The days of quiet enjoyment of life were over. The days of worrying about who you said hello to were here - apparently to stay. But Mr. P. had not picked up on this. He had always trusted his senior neighbours. He continued to be a trusting person.

And that is why when these new young folks asked if he could spare a loonie, he said "sure". They started visiting and chatting him up. He continued being a good neighbour to them. Then the atmosphere when they were around started to change. And he didn't know how to say "no".

Exactly what went down next is hard to say, but not hard to guess at. How it ended is a matter of fact. He was terrorized, robbed and beaten by these same youngsters he had thought he was helping. Someone on the fifth floor found out and summoned help.

Ottawa Housing Corporation and The City of Ottawa to the rescue, you say? A big meeting with the other tenants to warn them that there were criminals in the vicinity followed? The criminals were kicked out immediately? They were made to repay Mr. P. what they had stolen and apologize? No! No! No! and No!

There is no official word to anyone from the Ottawa Housing Corporation nor from the City of Ottawa. We ask but are told “That information is confidential.” There is however a rumour that Mr. P. was sent to a nursing home because he had no control over his bowels. The truth is that he was removed to a nursing home. The rest of that rumour - I have no idea if this is true or not. The truth also is that the first thought through my mind is, "If you were terrorized, beaten and robbed, maybe you would dirty your pants too." And then, “How come THAT information is not confidential?”

It took several other complaints to get rid of the obvious culprits. Their friends, fellow addicts and thieves are still here for the most part. The obvious culprits were eventually asked to leave this subsidized by the taxpayer apartment and I understand (more rumour as we had nothing official told to us), they were told never to return. The rumour also says that there was a 'No Trespass Order' sworn out against them. But the tenants have no official notice so exactly who is to keep the bad guys away? No one! They came back to play their little cons many times in the first weeks of their banishment.

Did they leave quietly? Oh Yes! One does have to be quiet when one is busy stealing the kitchen stove. But Not to Worry! The taxpayers won't even notice.

I do often wonder if the thieves know what a problem they presented to the Housing folks. Those stoves are not made anymore and finding a replacement that fit was impossible. Oh Well! The taxpayer will pick up the tab for not only the replacement but also for the work involved in getting the new one to fit. Love that taxpayer. Such an accommodating sort!!

The message to the remaining Seniors? Well it appears to be, if you get abused, we will also abuse you and take your home away and do nothing to stop the evil rumours about you. And can we be blamed for thinking the powers that be may even have started them? A save face thing, you know?

The message to the addicts and friends? You can get away with just about anything here. The Municipal and Provincial Governments and Ottawa Housing will make all the bad things go away with the simple, unarguable phrase, “That is confidential information.”

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Shame on you Ottawa! Shame on you, Ontario!

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