A Prayer for Victor, cold charity?

Hunched down, out of the wind I saw him, rearranging his bags to make room, the bitter, biting, wind kept at arms-length for just a bit, not for long now though as he would have to make a move soon.  I know him by name and just a little of his story, I just drove on, just another day.  It had been a frustrating day for me and I was grumbling inwardly about life till I saw Victor.

Perched out of the wind by a local liquor store, Victor was taking his purchases out of their packing and distributing them into his bags, Victor is dependent on alcohol, he was preparing to start walking, I am not sure where to, there’s no night shelter in Morrinsville, and Victor told me he is sleeping rough at the moment.  At that time and place my worries and frustrations were put into perspective. I know all the rhetoric, about choice and consequences, and at times have probably chanted it, I hope not too loudly.

I have met many Victors over the years, I have tried to help some, had some live with me, counselled some, cried with some and for some, even seen death take some.  Addiction is a terrible thing, I am so glad that I have never been in that place.  I had an internal conversation with myself about Victor, I wondered where he was going to sleep, was he hungry, would he stay warm and I drove on.  I have given money to him before, dumb I know because I am pretty confident about what happened to that money.

Victor looks like an everyday guy, Just a bit rough around the edges but with the telltale blood vessels bright red in his face, he could be a dad, husband, grand dad, I don’t know, not that I don’t care but I am too busy.  There I said it, just too busy.

It is not that I don’t care, or I couldn’t help, there is always enough to give someone a meal I just know.  Victor has people who care about him and are trying to assist him.  I know some of them, they will be encouraging him, they will be giving him some food, and a listening ear, There is some help available but Victor has to want it.  It is unlikely that he will change in the near future, I think he battles with some mental illness as well, but in my experience most people in addiction don’t change until the pain of living in that life becomes more than the pain of change,

I saw Victor again yesterday, huddled out of the wind, waiting for, well just waiting, I think for someone he knows, and he was probably going to ask for something, food or…. I said a quick hello but avoided his eyes as I hopped into my warm car and went home to my warm house and got ready for my warm food.  If I had stopped and said hello I would have been compelled to help him, I just can’t say no but like Victor I was also driven by fear.  I think that it is the fear of change that keeps him in his addiction, and for me it is the fear of consequence that stopped me saying hello, I know I would have had to do something and I just don’t want to be in that place.

I can justify it anyway I want, I am a sole parent, I am busy, I don’t have much money, I help a lot of other people, it won’t make a blind bit of difference difference anyway, nothing will change, all true, however at some level do I have a responsibility, I pay tax the Govt can help him, is that enough? Oh the church can help him is that enough? It is his choice, is that enough?  In the end I turned my back after I said hi, I drove away back into my life, I said a quick prayer, is that enough? Well I know the answer to those questions but I will not utter it, I know that I am just one person, I wish I was more than that at times, but I also prayed that he didn’t freeze to death somewhere, pathetic really but that’s all I had in me.  I guess it makes me human, certainly makes me think.

Peace and love people,



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