Moving on Up!

In 2001 I stopped working as a Manager at Convergys, which was a contact center with 2000 employees in Winnipeg. After the tragedy on 9/11 in New York I decided to resign and started driving a taxi for a friend.

The owner of the company needed a Dispatcher so he suggested that I drive weekends and dispatch for him during the week. Done. After a couple years my friend left the taxi business to drive a truck (and moved to Quebec).

What happened next was that I was hired full time as the night Manager/Dispatcher. We started building this taxi company and by 2005 we nearly doubled the size of the fleet.

It was suggested that I move across the street from the taxi company into the Hotel. I was now on call from 5pm to 7am and had to be nearby in case of emergency.

So, on my 50th birthday I moved into this hotel, subsidized by the company. I started a new life experience. Now, living in a hotel has its pros and cons. This place had a wild bar, restaurant with good food and only 5 monthly tenants, mostly hotel staff.

Since I worked nights, I aways missed the drinking and drug parties. I also missed the fights and arguments that happened at bar closing time. I slept the day away, and for a single man, the space was adequate and fully equipped.

Over the last 8.5 years the hotel has been sold three times. Now on it’s 4th owner, more changes are coming. The bar is being converted to a Gentleman’s Club. The bar will feature non-stop strippers and a few rooms have been set aside to be rented by the hour

Although I can remain here, the cost has increased. I’m on a disability pension and no longer work. Why live in what will surely become a strip joint/brothel?

I got lucky. A friend of mine called me and suggested I apply at his apartment block because an opening was coming on September 1. That block is exactly in the suburb I grew up in and is located next door to everything. This 55 plus block is subsidized and because of my age and disability, I qualify. I raced to the block tò check out the suite at the top and went to fill the application. Thanks to connections to the blocks owners I was able to secure approval for September 1 possession!

My rent will drop to less than half of what it costs me in this hotel. Finally after 9 years of core city living. I’m moving on up to the 8th floor!




The Trip of Trips

So, here we are in February of 2010, and I completed my final trip on crack cocaine. After over 20 years of tripping with drugs, finally the time came to plan a real trip.

Now that I deleted the daily cost of cocaine, I figured that I could save $2000 in 3 months. I planned a trip foe late June, with about $3000 of drug savings. I would be going to Vancouver to visit with my daughter Blair, my brother, Alan, and other family.

I always wanted to drive through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but I didn’t own a car. In discussions with my employer it was decided that I would be able to rent a newer Toyota Prius. Yes, a hybrid car to drive through the mountains- to Vancouver and back. The plan was to leave in the middle of June and return on or about July 2.

It was about midnight in the middle of June that I tossed a few bags into the car, and pulled out of Winnipeg for the Trip of Trips. I started to drive with the intended 1st stop in the mountains at Banff, Alberta.

So, I drove non stop to Banff. Snuggled in the mountains, I took a 3 hour nap and then it was back on the road. Or so I thought. Just up the highway the traffic was stopped. Turns out that the closure was due to controlled landslides via dynamite. After a couple hours of blasting we were off to Vancouver.

The next stop would be Golden, BC. After that we would include stretch stops in the Okanogan valley. After 30 hours of highway #1, the end was near. I was entering Vancouver, exhausted and happy.

I did have one issue. During the drive , my back broke into what seemed like chickenpox. Open itchy sores were driving me crazy. I figured I would find a hotel room to rest and have a look at my back. I stopped at a police roadblock and got directions to a hotel on the way downtown. I found a nice $80 room on the east side of Vancouver. The key deposit was only $200. Wow! This was Vancouver.

Turns out that I had picked up “Shingles”, an adult form of chicken pox. I had a good sleep after a hot shower and it was time to find my daughter, Blair.

The fun and adventure was only beginning……




Scared Straight

So, the old saying that you hear about the illicit drug abuse world is that you have three choices: You quit, die, or go to jail. It was time for me to choose.

The challenge is, what enables you to actually decide to buy into that old saying? In my case it was two fold. I had a couple daughters that left or would be leaving Winnipeg and I had to be able to finance my occasional visits. I was over 50 years old and getting older AND tired of the same daily routine of work then drugs and then sleep.

Although I had never had any medical problems, sickness or emergency issues because of smoking crack, I did notice one important change:  I was increasingly becoming paranoid after just a couple puffs of crack. The room would go quiet. I froze in position and listened for any signs of my room being invaded by police, gangsters, or stranger’s.

I always got high by myself. Only one or two people could say that they saw me smoke crack. Nobody had ever seen me actually purchase the cocaine. I was just growing tired of the routine.

I slowly cut back on my consumption until my daily use was costing only $20 per day. That allowed me two puffs on the pipe but that was still too much to hide the paranoia. Finally, one day in early 2010, I woke up after a night of terror over nothing and decided that I would never ever again use cocaine AGAIN, in any form.


By June of 2010 I had saved a couple thousand dollars for a visit to Vancouver to see my daughter Blair, and younger brother Alan and family. That was my first real vacation since 1992.

Next post we’ll talk about my adventures driving to Vancouver in a Toyota Prius, and the wonderful time that I had. I’ll also discuss the nightmare of a drive home when the Prius blew up in Field, BC.

The next story is hilarious!


The Enabler

Warning! Don’t even consider smoking free base cocaine. That is the most pure form of cocaine that exists. One inhaled puff……as soon as it vaporizes and hits your brain you will cross into a hell that has no return.

We used to call that “crossing over to the other side” since you no longer feel that you are in the same room you were seconds ago. Everything around you looks the same but the feeling is very different. You will have trouble communicating. You will freeze into a position of someone listening for the slightest noise. You will posture for an invasion of strangers from every corner of the room and this paranoid feeling will continue for about 15 minutes.

As you crash back into reality you crave another puff and repeat the process again and again. New crackheads can’t stop and the paranoid feelings are not intense. You can still be social to a limit but that quickly disappears and you are suddenly alone in your own world.

Free base crack cocaine is used more by adults in the 35 to 70 year range. Many users would never go from sober to crack. They need an enabler.

The enabler is usually alcohol. After a few drinks the urge for crack increases. Usually, the user who is enabled by alcohol is in a Drunken Stupor before he will smoke crack. The feeling is different and unfortunately more crack smokers are alcoholics that become enabled. They will always deny that they have a drug problem and call themselves alcoholics. 
This is your neighbor. Maybe they are a plumber, accountant or a blue or white collar worker with a family in the suburbs. Rehabilitation is the only cure for this type of user. Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto fits into this demographic. He needs to be in a drunken stupor because he wants crack. Alcohol is the enabler. Rehab doesn’t always work for this case. Especially if you need alcohol before crack.


Next week I’ll tell you about what enabled me to free base smoke crack and how I was finally able to quit in 2010. See you next Monday!