Always Support the Bottom

by Nic Olson

Always support the bottom. -Aluminum Baking Tray

I’ll get all poetic later.

I was washing dishes at Carmichael in Regina. If you don’t know about this place and you live in Regina, then you best become aware. Oh, how noble of you, Nic—helping the poor and publicizing it on your blog like a self-righteous asshole. That’s right, I am.
When I was washing dishes I came across multiple clever coffee mugs in the Coffee Mug Graveyard that is the Carmichael Outreach. Here are the greatest of the great:

  • Don’t borrow off Peter to pay Paul on your birthday, Because no one likes a sore Peter.
  • The Older I Get, The Better I Get
  • Merry Christmas MOM, You’re Special
  • Neighbours by Chance, Friends by Choice
  • Pepe Tours, South American Travel Agency
  • Age-appropriate Dora ceramic coffee mugs
  • #1 Hair Stylist
  • I’m no sex addict, but we haven’t had bunnies in days.

These all seem to date back to a similar time period when giving coffee mugs was as common as texting. A warm era of camaraderie where you would give a mug for absolutely any occasion, even if the mug made no sense, and especially if it had heavy sexual undertones. Like a reusable, practical, breakable gift card.

Several weeks ago while at Carmichael, two local television celebrities came by to volunteer their time. I was greasy, wearing a ponytail and my trademark stained hoodie, slanging leftovers from juvenile delinquent centres into old yogurt containers. They were wearing classy female-tailored suits. They helped package and deliver food. Being television extroverts, asking questions seemed natural to them, and since I am always able to answer the questions of beautiful, young successful local women, we had a nice conversation about the city, about their early morning television schedules, and about Montreal. They asked me why I came to Carmichael on a regular basis, and I was unable to give a decent answer. I have spare time, I said. I like what they do here.

This week, I slapped together likely fifty or more double burgers on white bakery buns with a splash of mustard and an explosion of ketchup. When I reached the bottom of the tray, through a layer of greyish-yellow fatty beef juice, I came up with the reason why I do my best to volunteer on regularly. On the aluminum tray, one that was once filled with frozen burger patties, oven-cooked to perfection, I read the above quote and title of this post. And although this one was staring at me in the face, and although lately I have been going really far, shitty-preacher far, to make connections between regular life crap and philosophical nonsense, this one I just couldn’t pass up.

I do not use the term ‘the bottom’ as if those financially unlucky are somehow lower than those of us who can live comfortably in our wealth. I use the term ‘the bottom’ as in, those who are neglected by the rest, including government funding and policy. Supporting ‘the bottom’ means more than using a thrift store as a garage sale for our conscience, it means more than parting ways with our novelty ceramic mugs, it means more than a financial gift that we will be refunded 15% by the compassionate Canadian government. It means changing the the system in a way so that the bottom is supported by the top, and the top is supported by the bottom. A system where they are both on the same level. Where ‘the bottom’ doesn’t exist. This is possible starting with a change in mindset, change in priorities, change in spending. But if you’ve got any hilarious ceramic mugs for me to wash, we can always just start there.

If you have an excess of food items, large plastic yogurt containers, plastic bags, clothes, money, or time please consider donating it to the Carmichael Outreach on 1925 Osler Street.

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