It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the man I used to call Jesus, years in fact. When I first moved to Winnipeg in the early 1990’s he was already a fixture on the Osborne Village sidewalks. He was always dressed for the cold it seemed, ratty old blue parka, beat up winter boots and a heavy beard.
He was always dirty of course, living on the margins of society for so long. His hair was normally pretty wild and natty. But for some strange reason I found him to be the most agreeable person on the street those days. Most panhandlers back then were pretty aggressive. They would get in your face demanding a smoke or some of the hard-earned change in your pocket. All the while wearing ratty clothes but somehow the new sneakers gave them away. They may have experimented with the lifestyle but they sure were not living it the way he did.
Living on the streets for a night or two I think most people could imagine, but this man lived day in and day out on and around Osborne Village for as long as anyone I spoke to could remember. Rumours abounded that he had a family once, that he had a job, a nice house and a car. All of those things that society uses to judge us a success or a failure. Now he just survived.