Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pathways Employment Centre: A Billion Abusers Served

There is a persistent message conveyed at Pathways Employment Center at Main & Hastings: Abuse is tolerated.

The DTES Enquirer just got a report of yet another abuse incident at Pathways. The woman who reported it was still trembling. This morning, she and another woman and about ten men had been quietly working at computers in the Pathways Computer room. A man wearing sun glasses as he worked on his computer on this overcast rainy day suddenly leaned over and screamed in the ear of one of the women: Why don’t you just shut the fuck up!”. She jumped, she was so startled. She hadn’t been talking, just typing.

The woman went to tell a staff person. “I think he was psychotic," she said. But a staff person, who would later identify herself as Lana, was already on her way into the room, apparently having heard the outburst from her office.

A male witness at a computer on the other side of the room commented when Lana arrived that he too had been startled by the man’s unprovoked outburst. “I jumped off my seat”, he said.

Lana then did what Pathways, including Director Carol Madsen, has gained a reputation for doing: she covered for the abuser.

She told the screamer he could continue working at his computer. She suggested that the woman in whose ear he had screamed find herself another computer. The woman said, “I think the abuser should be asked to go elsewhere, not me.” Lana remained firm. She justified her decision by saying, "He's not doing it any more."

“Could I have your name please,” the woman said to Lana. (She did not know her name at the time.) Lana was reluctant to give her name. After the woman asked three times, she finally gave her name: Lana. "I don't know if it was her real name or not," the woman said, so she described her as having short dark brown hair, medium height, slightly plump, and wearing a green v-neck sweater. The woman asked Lana if she was willing to give her last name.

Then Lana did what povertarians do best.

In a calm voice, she said, “Are you trying to create conflict?” Downtown Eastside residents are onto this tactic. When they speak up about misconduct on the part of a povertarian, the povertarian immediately attempts to present them as a person who is out of line, a person creating conflict or acting like a troublemaker.

Then the man who had screamed earlier lit into Lana. He yelled that she was a “f*cking c*nt”. Lana told him he could still stay and work on his computer. Lana, who by this time was looking like a candidate for a diagnosis of Battered Women’s Syndrome, again told the woman he had screamed at that she could possibly find a computer in the other room. “I’m still shaking,” the woman told Lana as she was closing down the windows on her computer. But Lana was standing by her man.

Then Lana spotted something that she could not overlook. She saw pornography on the man’s computer screen. “That’s it,” she said, “You have to go. Three strikes.”

“So she admitted there had been two previous strikes,” I said, when the woman and a male witness were giving me their account of events. The woman was still trembling when I spoke to her. Not all the men in the computer room minimized this incident the way Lana had. One guy asked the woman, “Are you ok?”

Mr. Three Strikes Your Out did not go gently into the street. He blew up at Lana, calling her a “f*cking c*nt, f*cking this, f*cking that" and telling her she shouldn't use the term "three strikes". He was physically aggressive as he pushed past the table and chairs in the computer room and turned back to tear another strip out of Lana. Afterwards, another woman who had not yet been involved piped up, “I hid in the corner.” Lana said in a calm voice, “That was probably a good idea.”

When the woman – the one who had emerged from hiding in the corner – said she didn’t want them to let that guy come back. Lana again said in a soft voice, “We try to serve everybody.”

Pathways Employment Center: a billion abusers served.


Anonymous said...

If something like this can happen anywhere except Vancouver, please let me know.

Dag said...

I'm seeking answers to this situation, not merely as it is in Vancouver but around the world, and deeply, in our benighted time. One place to look is in the written works of the hugely famous Walter Rauschenbusch, whose books below I would like to get hold of: "Christianity and the Social Crisis"; "Christianizing the Social Order"; and or "A Theology for the Social Gospel."

If your readers will be so kind as to ask around the missions and churches of the downtown eastside I'm sure they'll find copies available for free or too cheap to cry over. If even one copy of one book surfaces and makes it's way into my hands, I can then begin to formulate a better understanding than I have now of this scene. But why do it alone? I'd be very happy to do this with anyone else who wants to understand the theoretical base of povertarianism.

Rauschenbusch is just one of many who have created this pseudo-ethos. I'd like to meet others who share an interest in this field. Let me know if you're interested. Leave a note here and we might have a chance to meet up and talk it over.

reliable sources said...

On Tuesday, the day after the above incident occurred, somebody spilled water on a $15 computer keyboard at Pathways. They didn't know who it was but there was more concern expressed about a keyboard being damaged than there had been on Monday when an aggressive guy, possibly psychotic, put clients at risk in the computer room.

And there was more action taken over the keyboard too.

Signs were immediately produced and taped to every computer saying,"NO FOOD OR DRINK CAN BE CONSUMED IN THE COMPUTER LAB. Work in, Eat Out. Thanks."

No signs have been put up saying, "DON'T CALL WOMEN C*NTS WHEN YOU DISAGREE WITH THEM. THANKS", even though that has happened more often than water spilled on a keyboard. The DTES Enquirer has gotten several reports of women being called "cunt", "bitch", "old lady", and other derogatory names in the computer room. I heard the c-word used myself when I dropped in to Pathways to talk to Bill Simpson.

Men can get abused at Pathways too, like if a guy playing pool on a computer asks another guy to get off so he can look for a job, he can be spoken to in a threatening manner but usually not called names, according to our sources.

Somebody is eventually going to get injured at Pathways and staff and their federal gov't funders won't be able to say there were no warning signs.

It is actually women at Pathways who are condoning the abuse of other women. The most powerful staff at Pathways are women, like Director Carol Madson. It is these women who are giving the signal that it is ok for lower status women to be abused. The DTES Enquirer reported on a past incident in which Madson personally threatened to ask a female complainant about abuse to leave. She was considered a problem for complaining. There were witnesses to the abuse, but Madson didn't speak to them.

Despite the fact that Madson places other women at risk in Pathways, she expects perks for herself as a woman. She brings her kids to work every afternoon and essentially quits working when they arrive -- ripping off the taxpayer. What man could get away with treating his workplace as a daycare?

The Pathways security guard entertains the kids by zooming them around in a swivel chair, witnesses tell us. That would be the same security guard who did not ask the aggressive man in the computer room on Monday to leave. (He seemed to be deferring to Lana.)

jesuschrist said...

Personality disorder, formerly referred to as a Character Disorder, is a class of mental disorders characterized by rigid and on-going patterns of thought and action (Cognitive modules). The underlying belief systems informing these patterns are referred to as fixed fantasies. The inflexibility and pervasiveness of these behavioral patterns often cause serious personal and social difficulties, as well as a general impairment of functioning.