tagNon-EroticLiving On A Prayer

Living On A Prayer


Sometimes, I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day, man. I work forty-hour weeks and try my best to pay my 300-dollar-a-month rent ( it's a shared apartment ) and school fees, but it's not enough. I owe Carleton University well over a thousand dollars, and I doubt they'll give me till May to pay it. We're on the last day of January 2013 as I type this here tale. It's an unusually warm day in the City of Ottawa, province of Ontario. I'm just a guy trying to get by. The name is Stephen Georges Saint-Luc, and I moved to Canada's Capital three years ago from my homeland of Haiti, deep in the Caribbean.

The life of a Black man in North America is seldom easy, but damn, sometimes I feel like the unluckiest S.O.B. on the planet. For three years now, the only way I've been able to take care of myself is by working security. With my Ontario security guard licence, I've worked for various companies, from Securitas Canada to Iron Horse and Capital Security. Working as a security guard doesn't pay much, but it's how I pay for my school, rent and groceries. Unfortunately for me, my licence expires in mid-February, and last week I got contacted by the Ontario security guard licencing agency, requesting more documentation from me to renew my licence.

Damn, why are they doing that shit now? I sent the application in since late November 2012, what the fuck? This puts me in a very tight spot. If I don't renew my licence in time, I can't work. Well, I could work security under the table, but if I get caught with an expired licence there will be hell to pay. On top of that, Carleton University is bugging me about my late fees. Can't a brother catch a break? I only make eleven dollars and fifty cents an hour in this dead-end job! Now, if I were a permanent resident or a Canadian citizen, renewing my security licence would be easy because all they ask is two pieces of government identification and about eighty dollars as the renewal fee.

Well, I paid the fee, and sent in my two pieces of government I.D. but they were deemed insufficient. They're asking me for a new work permit, which is going to cost me one hundred and seventy five dollars to obtain from the Canadian Immigration Bureau, and isn't guaranteed to arrive in the mail on time for me to renew my licence. Why are they making me go through all that? I arrived in Canada in early 2010 as a refugee claimant. A lot of people who come to Canada as refugees have their claims accepted and they're given an easy path to permanent residence and eventual citizenship. I apparently picked the wrong time to move to Canada, a country I visited when I was much younger. The Canada I remembered was an open and friendly place. Nobody told me how much it changed as I crossed the border years ago.

The Canada I live in calls itself a multicultural nation, but life isn't easy for newcomers here, especially the ones who aren't of the Caucasian persuasion. If you're black, Asian, Hispanic or Arab, and you're new to Canada, they will CONSTANTLY remind you that this isn't your home and you don't belong here. I think Canada originally wanted to be a multiracial and multicultural society but with so many Arabs, Indonesians and Somalis living there, they fear that Islam will take over and forever change the face of Canadian society. The fact that most immigrants from non-white backgrounds who move to Canada are from the Christian, Buddhist and Pagan faiths seems to have escaped the notice of immigration authorities. They're so focused on their fear of radical Islam that they're alienating immigrants from other faiths.

For some reason, white Canadians aren't reproducing like they used to, and the fastest-growing demographics in the country are the Arab, African and Asian communities. Almost half of all people from these backgrounds follow Islam. Muslim families have a LOT of brats, and they see themselves as Muslim first and Canadian second, something which doesn't sit right with many "traditional" Canadians. You'd think they'd give me a break since I'm a proud Christian man from the Caribbean who has zero interest in Islam and loves democracy and women's rights. I mean, I go to church weekly and wear a cross and everything! Think that would sway their hearts? Nope. I'm as unwelcome here as guys with names like Mohammed or Ahmed. Maybe I'm even more unwelcome because, well, I'm a Black guy.

As a man who endured the 2010 Haitian Earthquake and the terrible times that preceded it, I don't faze easily. Still, I've endured things in Canada that would break a lesser man. A cold-hearted white male judge rejected my refugee claim, breaking the heart of my relatives in Canada who sent for me. We got a lawyer, though, and we're appealing the case. I pray the Canadian government revisits its decision and allows me to stay. As bad as things are in Canada for me right now, I don't want to go back to the island of Haiti. Even before the quake, things were tough and there are people down there who want me dead. I won't go into too many details, for safety reasons, you know? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, especially the internet, the world you and I happen to share is small and if someone who hates your guts is determined to find you, they most definitely can find you.

Yeah, I'm up shit's creek without the proverbial paddle, and you thought you had problems, eh? Yeah, I'm under a lot of pressure these days. Must be why I have been feeling so low on energy lately. I work twelve-hour shifts five days a week as overnight security for this telecommunications company located in Kanata North, about an hour from downtown Ottawa. I've got to take three buses to get to work. I live in the East End of Ottawa, in an area called Vanier. I'm about a ten-minute walk from the Saint Laurent Mall. To get to school, I catch the perpetually unreliable number nine bus heading to Hurdman, and catch the number four heading from Hurdman Station to Carleton University. When I've got to get to work, I catch the ninety six bus at Hurdman and if I'm lucky enough to catch it, I ride it to Bayshore Station where I'll catch the number ninety three bus heading into Kanata North. If I miss the ninety six bus at Hurdman, I'll have to catch it at Lincoln Fields, an area which gives me the creeps. No choice, though. My bills won't pay themselves, you know?

Honestly, I don't know how in hell I'm going to get out of this one, ladies and gentlemen. Try as I might, I basically see no way out. If I don't pay for my school over the next few weeks, they'll pull me from my classes. They've threatened to do so last semester, but I asked for my accumulated vacation pay from the security company and with it, I was able to save my ass that time. If I don't renew my security licence, I won't be able to work. And that will make things just about perfect, don't you think? I'm forwarding the necessary documents to the Ontario security licencing agency and praying that they accept it, process the stuff and mail my new licence to me on time. In the meantime, I'm updating my resume and looking into work with anyone from Wal-Mart to Loblaws in case my security licence doesn't come on time. Yep.

All these thoughts flood through my head as I sit in my Criminology class that Thursday afternoon, the last day of January 2013. On February 5, 2013, I will turn twenty seven. How about that? I gaze around the classroom, and notice a pretty face smiling at me. It's Lena, this pretty chick I remember from one of my tutorials. She's half black and half Hispanic, though don't ask me what country she's from because I don't remember. We're Facebook friends. I once entertained thoughts of asking her out. She's beautiful, and seems to like talking to me, so why not? With my job and countless worries, I don't have time to have a life. Don't ask me when's the last time I had sex or even went on a date. I've been walking through life like a robot. Typical Aquarius man with the world on my shoulders.

I smile at Lena and wave at her weakly. She smiles and sends me a Facebook message which I see on my INQ phone from TELUS mobility, an imitation of Blackberry. Lena asks me how I am and notes that I look tired. I tell her that she looks great today. She thanks me, reminds me that she's got a boyfriend, and then tells me to get some sleep. I send her a smiley face. That's my only reply. Class ends, and I walk out of the building with about a hundred of my so-called peers, all of whom probably have easier lives than me. Oh, well. Got to get ready for work. Say a prayer for me, will you? I think I am going to need it.

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