The only retiring Swicked Cycles owner James Durand expects he'll do is retiring customers' bikes. Photo submitted

Choices are important

A few years ago I was driving north through Seattle with my little fam.

We were passing right through town and noticed a huge tent city next to the I-5.

Rhyley, who was eight years old at the time, asked, “Daddy, why do those people sleep beside the road? Why don’t they go home?”

I quickly explained that they were homeless. If any of you are parents then you know every answer brings on more questions.

“Daddy, why are they homeless?”

I saw the curious look from Chenoa as I thought long and hard on how to answer.

I want Rhyley to understand that life is hard, it is definitely not fair, and we have choices to make along the way. Also, those choices can have long lasting and significant affects on your life … and the lives of those around you.

I explained that these people had made choices that brought them to this point in their lives.

Now, before you jump down my throat with your assumption that I’ve made misguided assumptions myself. Think about it.

Choices are everything. I explained to Rhyley that some of these people made poor choices because they decided to start taking drugs and this is where that road leads most of the time. Some people made poor choices with their finances and the risk was far greater than the reward. Some people grew up in a household of bad choices and never learned a better way until it was too late. Then I was very clear with her, that some people suffer from mental illness and may not have the capacity to determine a good choice from a bad one.

“Rhyley, in every case it’s a sad situation and we need to be compassionate towards all walks of life, but we need to be very aware that if we make bad choices, we have to be responsible for those choices, and other people should be held responsible for their choices too.”

Rhyley turns 11 soon and after our store break-in and robbery this last week, she chatted with me about poor choices and wondered why someone would do something knowing they will have consequences to pay. Her innocence literally brought a tear to my eye.

Again, I know someone will be offended by my opinions. I’m obviously not too worried about it.

I’m 53 years old. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve met people from many walks of life, I grew up on a small street in Port Coquitlam in a beat up 80-year-old house. The wealthiest man in town lived three houses away, and one of the poorest families in town lived six houses away in a shack. They were all just neighbours to me, and friends.

I fully realize that in every walk of life there are good honest people and scammers, thieves and leeches.

I’m not judging any group as a whole, but as Campbell River welcomes more and more homeless into our community and uses tax dollars to build and supply more and more amenities for this faction of the population, crime seems to go up. I’m not judging, or assuming, it’s just fact. Ask a cop, an insurance broker, or the glass repair shop.

Bikes and bike parts appear to be currency for the drug addicted portion of the homeless. The police are feeling helpless and admitted to my face that there is very little they can do to prevent the crime or round up the culprits after the fact. It’s up to me to protect my family, my business, and my possessions.

So, complain all you want about my opinions, spend as much time as you like trying to understand the homeless, and blow your brains out trying to explain to me over and over how it’s my responsibility as a taxpayer to help solve addiction and homelessness.

Like you, I can make a choice, and I choose to look after my family, try my best to raise good and productive kids, and run a business that not only provides me with an honest livelihood, but also helps the community with positive contributions.

When you ask me to come out and chat with the homeless so I can better understand their struggles, I choose instead, to spend time with my family, and lately, spend way too much time figuring out how to protect my family, my business, and my staff.

Lastly, if you don’t like my opinions, then make a choice, and stop reading my opinions. See how easy that was?

This is the last you’ll hear from me on this topic, I’m choosing to concentrate on more positive aspects of life.

I’m James and Durand, and I CHOOSE to go Ridin’…

Campbell RiverCycling