Old dog, new tricks

Just a few days ago I was helping out giving out meals and chatting with people at the Salvation Army’s nightly friendship club.

I’d been there the week before and was again working in the kitchen around 6 pm with a very tall, broad and, in my mind, presumably homeless or very poor guy called Jason*.

Jason* was attentively divvying up portions of rice and meat amongst plastic containers to give to people waiting out in the church section of the Bourke street building.

Next minute in barrels Matt* swearing about nothing in particular to anyone who will listen and apparently drunk off his head, according to Trey*, his old house mate, who was leading the kitchen duties for the night.

“Matt thinks he’s bulletproof,” say’s Jason.

“I did too, when I was his age…I had a death wish,” he says.

Jason’s* life spiralled out of control after his father shot himself in the mouth in Jason’s* expensive Melbourne home.

“I was cleaning his teeth off the lounge floor the next day,” says Jason.

After that, when he was about 17, Jason started bouncing in clubs and become involved with some of Melbourne’s biggest drug dealers and underworld figures.

He was, in his words, Satan’s best soldier for 20 years, getting into fights and drinking himself into oblivion.

I didn’t ask what changed and brought him to where he is today but the fact is that Jason is now off alchohol, is devoted to bible study and takes time to come to the salvation army to talk with his friends and serve meals to those like Matt*, who, though they may seem lost to everyone else, in Jason’s* eyes, are not lost forever.

“They say you can’t teach an old dog’s new tricks,” I said to him.

“You can never give up on anyone,” he said.

*Names have been changed.


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