Scribbler is a stocky youth, age 22, parenting part-time a 2 ½ year old daughter. His face is obscured by a short full beard and he has a slouchy shuffley walk that suggests a laid-back attitude, but he kept an eagle eye on the screen and immediately identified any error. As his chosen name implies, he self-describes as suffering from ADHD, although I didn’t find him particularly wiggly. He didn’t initiate much conversation but he responded very well to questions. Even though he said he didn’t want to go into details about sexual assault (latter part of the interview), after we were finished scribing, he added more details that implied that he was left vulnerable by his father’s absence and that the person who assaulted him had also victimized many other guys and was still on the loose – but he still didn’t think he should go public about it, either seeking support for himself or doing what he could to bring the guy to justice. I was left feeling that I’d missed asking the crucial questions but he’d answered them to his satisfaction anyhow. He is eloquent about how his trade training education accommodated his needs, the challenge of getting employment without transportation, and the need for small towns to create employment if they can’t provide transportation to employment.
FM: Okay, let’s start with you telling a bit about your family – where you were raised, how many in the family, what they did to pay the rent, etc etc etc.
Oh my. My family’s mostly Irish and Scottish with hints of English. I was raised in Eastville, in the village. There’s only me as a sibling, I don’t have any brothers or sisters. Cousins: too many to count, basically half the town. My mom worked at a convenience store for 7-8 years now, half relied on OW and half the paycheck to get through.
My dad left when I was a year old.
FM: Okay. Start with your first move out of your mom’s house.
The first move I did was up to [a city 150 km away]. I got my girlfriend of the time pregnant and she wanted to be near her family so I gave up being near mine. I didn’t like the big city at all. It just didn’t seem like the right place to raise a kid.
FM: How old were you at this time?
I was 18. I was just turning 19 when my daughter was born.
FM: And had you finished school before you made this move?
No, I gave up school to find a job and support them.
FM: What work?
Landscaping contracting. Rust control on cars. A bit of farming.
FM: So the landscaping and rust control was in [the city]?
FM: so how long were you in [the city]?
About four months, because my girlfriend didn’t get along with her family and they were fighting, fists were flown, yeah.
FM: So when you moved to [the city], did you move in with her family?
FM: Okay, so fists flying, you moved to where?
To her mother’s. Also in [the same city].
FM: Just to clarify. So in what family home were the fists flying?
Her grandmother’s. But eventually, at her mother’s as well.
FM: More on that?
After we got kicked out of both places because of her, we decided to use the money that I’d saved and move to an apartment in Farm County. We got eventually kicked out, in a week, because she wouldn’t stop screaming at me, for some reason.
After that, her father came into the picture and helped us out a little bit and said we should move to [a town 80 km closer to Eastville], where he could be of further help and everything like that.
In a stroke of luck, we got an apartment right across from his. We stayed there for a year, trying to balance welfare and on-call paycheck.
FM: On call for what?
Snow removal and landscaping when they needed it.
FM: And did the screaming and fists flying die off a bit?
No, they eventually came after me and that’s why I decided to leave her.
FM: They being who?
FM: Just to clarify then. So this domestic violence, her on you or both?
Her on me. She also decided one day to put a knife to my throat when I was holding our daughter.
FM: So how did you understand her violence? Substance abuse? Mental health?
I think it has to do a lot with how she was raised. Her mother always hit her, her grandmother hit her mother, and so on and so forth, that’s the only thing she knew how to do, so I decided I wasn’t going to put up with that.
FM: So, [next move]?
A new place, Porttown with my mother.
FM: And baby?
I had to fight for custody for two years after. And only get out of everything three weekends and three weeks.
FM: How old was the babe when you two split?
FM: And were you worried, given the history of violence? About baby?
No, she never put any violence toward the infant at all, always to me. I came to the conclusion then that city girls are crazy.
FM: Okay. How did you two meet?
We first met in a small town a couple minutes from here. It was all good and dandy, we didn’t know much about each other and when her birthday came around, I left a present that I didn’t want to leave.
FM: Like a baby on the way...
Yeah. Bun in the oven.
FM: And you were at school at this time?
Yeah. I was actually going to try and find some credits toward being a prison guard.
FM: So you had your grade 12.
No, it was grade 11.
FM: Okay, so you’re with your mom in Porttown, ex and baby in [the town 80 km away], what now?
She went on to move all over the place and eventually get the baby taken away due to poor… well, she wasn’t taking care of her properly and CAS came and took her from her. And that’s when I decided it’s time for me to start fighting. I’ll be damned if a kid of mine is going to be in CAS for the rest of her life.
FM: How old was baby at this time?
She would have been six months.
FM: So she’s in care of CAS from where?
From Durham region. I had to go there for about 1 ½ years for court, had to get a lawyer up there and everything. Eventually regained custody of my daughter.
FM: So she lives with you now?
FM: And the rest of the time?
Rest of the time with not my ex, but her mother in [the city].
FM: Okay. So this is the three weeks and three weekends [per month] that you have access?
FM: And are you paying child support?
No, due to the fact that I have her most of the time.
FM: And CAS is out of the picture?
Yes, for me anyways.
FM: But they supervise the grandmother?
Yes, and the mother.
FM: Is your plan to have her full time, say by the time she starts school when this plan wouldn’t work any more?
Yeah, but that’s a whole other court battle and it’s not decided by me, so I can’t say anything.
FM: When she’s with you – no, let’s get you from Porttown with your mother to here, right?
So I decided to come to Eastville because I have a lot more family around and a lot more support. I know tons of people around here. I grew up around here; I know what it’s like around here.
FM: To Eastville – when was this?
2011 came back. And haven’t left since.
FM: And how are you supporting yourself?
Odd jobs. Help from my family. That’s about it.
FM: So are you living on your own, now, with daughter ?
No, I’m living with my grandmother. And since my grandfather has been battling cancer, I decided to stay around and help her out with the bills. Plus having the little brat run around is pretty helpful keeping their mind off of it.
FM: Okay, so that’s the last move?
I’m about to move just out of town, here.
FM: To do what?
Moving in with my new girlfriend. She has a daughter of her own and they both get along great. She was raised around here and in the six months we’ve been together there’s been no fighting whatsoever.
FM: Were you ever involved with the law when there was all this violence with the mother of your child?
FM: Okay. So do you have plans to return to school?
Well, I have finished up college for welding. I achieved three tickets and I’m looking for a job that will pay me more than minimum wage.
FM: When did the welding training take place and did that involve a move?
No, I was at a dorm for the week and came back for the weekends.
FM: Where was this?
Over in Bridgeville.
FM: So the school had a dorm attached to it?
No, it was a different location.
FM: Okay, but as part of signing up for welding instruction, you also had your living arrangements taken care of?
Yeah, all for about $10,000.
FM: Talk about that – how long a course?
Ten weeks, you get three tickets and it’s basically what they expect from you when you hop on the job.
FM: So really geared to making you work ready?
FM: And how did you find out or get into this course?
I was told by the [work preparation course] here – I was hired on by the one program they have for the youth, and they had some important people come in and talk about the trades and things like that, and one of them was the owner of the welding school. I took a big liking to what he had to say and decided I got nothing else to lose so why not.
FM: How’d you finance it?
I got – me and my mom just went for a bank loan and it took a while but we finally got it.
FM: If she hadn’t been willing to co-sign, what alternatives would you have had?
I wouldn’t have been able to do it. There’s no resource around here that would give me that kind of money. Like there’s $3000 that would go toward a fork-lift or something.
FM: I’m not up to speed on this stuff, but is there student aid or something of that sort for trade training?
You mean like OSAP or something? No, the course was way too short and they never approved of it. For the course to be qualified to be covered by OSAP it would have to be 20 – 28 weeks.
FM: And this was 10?
FM: Hhuhh! Did you feel that it was a lot of work for 10 weeks? Did you feel rushed?
No, the way they have it set up, it’s basically [you do] all the book work when you get home, but when you’re at the school, it’s all hands-on experience. None of this do book work [all day] and then for an hour do a bit of welding and come out with one ticket like [college].
FM: So, living in the dorm is really an important part of the program?
Because, yeah, basically everybody who lives at the dorm is on the same page as you. Everybody does homework as soon as they get there for four hours. And if you need help, the guys will give you any sort of advice, try and help you. It’s just like sorta a big tutoring group. Because all the guys are at different stages in the program and they’re all the same, get it done and get out working.
FM: Sounds like an excellent program.
It is; I’d recommend it to anybody. That wants to get working.
FM: So talk about work – how long ago did you complete and how’s the job hunting going?
Completed it about two weeks ago and the job hunting isn’t going so well because I don’t have any rides to get anywhere.
FM: What’s the plan there?
Basically trying to find anywhere around that’s walkable. So in a sense I just wasted $10000 on a welding ticket that I’m not going to be able to use for awhile.
FM: What are the chances you could somehow get transportation? Any possibilities? Your mom tapped out?
She’s always working and by the time she’s done working all the places I need to apply to are all closed up. And she also lives in a different town than me.
FM: Could she help out financially with getting you a vehicle?
She works at a convenience store; there’s no way she could do that. She’s got her own problems.
FM: And she counter-signed for $10K, so that may be the limit for her?
FM: So realistically, are there welding jobs within walking distance?
FM: What are the chances that you score a job?
Once the government lets them set up shop and move their shop from Scarborough to here, it would be pretty good. But he’s running into legal stuff and the government is making it pretty hard to set up around here and I don’t understand why. That’s the whole reason I went to school in the first place was to get a job with him.
FM: What do you understand about the delay in him setting up here?
It’s all government and legal matters that just doesn’t make sense to me. Why can’t they just let him set up shop and bring more jobs so that people aren’t on welfare in this town? That’s the only reason why this town has a high amount of people on welfare because there are no jobs, and the only jobs that are around are already taken.
FM: Right. Your girlfriend, does she work?
She used to. But then for some reason she got laid off for not enough work, or not enough money coming in.
FM: What kind of work?
Store clerk. Now she’s trying to go for a restaurant up the road. We’ll see how that goes.
FM: You said you’re moving just out of town.
About a 5-minute walk out of town.
FM: So [distance] not an impediment to getting work?
FM: How old are you?
FM: Okay. Is this the end of the story, or is there more?
If you’ve got more questions…
FM: Well, actually I do – there’s a finish-up part, but before then just let me ask if there’s any issues in this history re – we’ve talked about education, but you said in your application that you were ADD and had dyslexia. So talk about that.
Well, the dyslexia isn’t that bad, I just see some letters backwards and sometimes I write letters backwards, b's and d's and sometimes my p's turn into a 9.
FM: When were you diagnosed?
When I was five, with both.
FM: And was a school a misery for you?
FM: But trade training was okay?
Yeah, because the way I learn is with my hands. That’s what most people with my kind of problem learn with, so most of them are tradesmen.
FM: But I notice that you’ve been eagle-eyed with this narrative, you’ve caught errors before I do.
That’s part of the dyslexia, as soon as I do something wrong I fix it up quite quickly. They say Albert Einstein was dyslexic. And one of the presidents of the United States, I can’t remember who. Some of the best scientists and surgeons as well, so I don’t see why it should stop me, I just have to figure out how to work around it.
FM: Okay, I was going through in my head those five sectors – we’ve talked housing, education, employment, law involvement, not health. Any health factors in this story.
Yeah, I’m a big smoker.
FM: Cigs, or weed?
Cigarettes, no weed for me. That just puts me to bed. I find it’s just a waste of time and a waste of money. $10 for an hour: Yeah, what a ride! [sarcasm]
FM: Okay, I’m about out of questions except for the finish up ones. Ready?
FM: Okay. To give your story some shape or focus for people who will read it: What would you say is the Most Important Event in this story, something that may have happened or not happened that most influenced how this story is unfolding.
Umm, the biggest part is when my father left me. I didn’t want to be like him. I did everything I could do to be not like not him. I want to be the best father I can be to my daughter – that’s the only goal that keeps me going, just remembering all the hurt that I felt, not knowing who my father was.
FM: You never met him?
Once when I was 13. For a day. Never seen him since.
FM: Who set that up, that meeting?
My mother somehow got in contact with him. Now she can’t find him at all. He just disappeared. Again.
FM: Did she do that because she knew it was important to you?
FM: Well, that’s a gift. Of a sort. I mean, disappointing, but at least there’s some shape and form to the ghost?
FM: Okay. The judgment. People who read this story will want to have ‘closure’, they’ll in their mind go to how does this story turn out. It’s your story; how do you think the story is going to turn out. Good? Not so good? You optimistic or not so much?
Umm, expect the worst, hope for the best. Instead of hope, can we say pray?
FM: Pray for what exactly, can you say?
That my daughter gets a better life than I ever did.
FM: You didn’t talk much about having a bad life. Just you and your mom. Poverty, maybe?
I was a victim to a lot of different things, [that is] to say, sexual assault as a child. Rape. I was beaten by a step-father.
FM: So there was a whole other story behind this story?
Yeah. That I’d rather not get into.
FM: We can take that out if you want to.
No, maybe this will help whoever to make things better out here. Maybe a little bit easier on people out there. If my story can do that, then I did my job.
FM: Just one question, general: Was there ever any help offered to you around this assault? Was it known?
I figured if God threw me that, then I should be strong enough to handle that by myself.
FM: Okay. That gets us to… two advice questions. What advice would you give your younger self, whether or not that younger self would take the advice, that would make it more likely that this story would have a good outcome?
Don’t go out with city chicks. And never stop trying.
FM: I was wondering if you’d say, And wear a condom?
Yup, yup, that’s part of don’t go out with city chicks, cause they’ll trick you, man, I’m tellin’ ya! Poke a hole in the condom, all that stuff, very slimy.
FM: Okay advice number two: What advice would you give to people like us who would like to be helpful to young people like yourself?
Make housing easier. More affordable for a $500 pay cheque a month. Provide more transportation to get to the cities and get back to where we feel comfortable.
FM: Can I ask on that one, a --
So that if we can’t find a job in town, we can actually rely on a bus that goes into town, pick us up and bring us back until we can get our own vehicle.
FM: Are you saying that you’d work in a bigger centre if you didn’t have to live there?
Yeah, exactly. Lots of people do that.
FM: If they have a car.
FM: I interrupted you up there. Was there more?
Make it easier for small businesses to set up shop so we don’t have to go into a bigger town, we can make our own town bigger. And more profitable. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end? The more profit, the more the government gets so I don’t know why they’re making it so difficult. Like I’d like to start my own welding shop but I doubt I’ll ever be able to.
FM: Did I understand that the trouble for the guy who was going to move his shop here, was the government trouble the municipality, or higher level government?
FM: Okay. I think I’m done. Are you?