Social Question

SmashTheState's avatar

Is there anyone happier than Amou Haji?

Asked by SmashTheState (14220points) September 26th, 2016

Amou Haji is 80 years old, has no permanent home, no job, no family, no money, and his only possession is an old metal pipe which he uses to smoke animal poop. He hasn’t bathed in more than 60 years. He lives on a diet of rotting porcupine meat.

And Amou Haji is completely content with his life. He wants and needs nothing other than the occasional cigarette when he gets tired of smoking animal poop. Given that he is active and in perfect health despite his years, that he envies no one, harms no one, and asks nothing other than to be left to enjoy his solitary existence, it seems to me that he may be the happiest man alive.

Do you think he’s “mentally ill,” like someone else on Fluther says? Would you “cure” him of his happy, satisfied, and harmless life?

“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”Seneca

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105 Answers

rojo's avatar

Would that I could be as content as Amou Haji.

Jeruba's avatar

Where does he live?

It’s a relevant question.

Sneki95's avatar

How the hell is he healthy if he smokes shit, doesn’t bath and eats rot?
But, whatever floats his boat. If he is happy, I’m glad for him, I guess.

Hapiness is subjective, after all.

Jeruba's avatar

The name “Haji” signifies that he has been to Mecca. Somehow he had the means to make the pilgrimage and subsequently travel to his present location. That suggests that he has at some past time lived differently and has either chosen or been forced to relocate. Those seem like details that might affect an understanding of his story.

johnpowell's avatar

Forrest Gump walked across the United States. His walk would be a shorter distance. Tehran to Mecca is only about 1200 miles. And I am sure you would get a lot of support along the way since religion is involved.

zenvelo's avatar

Ignorance is bliss.

Is he really happy? Does he have real joy? Joy of connection with people, with the world around him?

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

If he wasn’t mentally ill when he started, he is now from the lack of mental stimulation.

imrainmaker's avatar

If above mentioned characteristics make someone happiest man on earth them I’m not sure in which direction the world is heading..

MrGrimm888's avatar

Happiness is derived from perspective. If the prism through which he sees life shows him happiness in this existence, then that makes him pretty happy.

I’d love to say he sounds like he’s totally crazy. But I have to admit, I never smoked shit before…. I don’t intend to try it.

He sounds like someone I’d get stuck next to on a transcontinental flight…

It’s too bad he’s not a US citizen. He could run for president.

canidmajor's avatar

Because “happier” is an entirely subjective comparative, there is no way to answer this.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I have heard about this man before. I don’t doubt that he is happy in his own mind but he has all the hallmarks of mental illness. He is getting support from people somehow since he smokes tobacco along with shit. He also smokes regular ciggarettes. Surviving to 80 in those conditions is quite a feat but he is one bad infection away from being buried in the hole that he lives in. I don’t know if we should “cure” this man or not if it were even possible.

All that said there is something refreshing to being unattached to “stuff” and responsibility entanglements, it just breathes contentment. I felt that way when I had nobody depending on me, owned almost nothing and was not working in a career. I also feel that way when taking a few days or a week backpacking. What we actually need to be happy is surprisingly little. Being a grown up generally means making these sort of sacrifices so that you can accomplish what you want in life and that you will hopefully be secure in old age. Besides somebody has to have and raise kids, keep the infrastructure tied together and generally be a productive human in whatever art, science or craft you wish to work with.

jca's avatar

Who can say if one person is happier than another? Who can say if this man’s happiness is not just due to him being mentally ill or challenged in such a way that living with dirt and shit is wonderful to him?

jca's avatar

I should add that even if you think it’s amazing that he lives this way, I don’t think he is necessarily someone to admire. However, to each his own.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think the OP admired the man’s mindset. I do as well. I wish I could be as content with what little I have.

cookieman's avatar

I was with you until you wrote, “he smokes animal poop.”

If he claims to be happy, great — but I draw the line at ingesting animal poop.

Seek's avatar

The article you posted said he smokes five cigarettes at a time.
Who buys those for him?

How does he eat?

He claims to not need anyone but with no job and no money he’s certainly depending on someone for his continued existence.

I do not believe I could be happy living on goat shit and handouts.

I would be terribly happy to, at some point, be completely self-sufficient with a small farm that produces enough food for my family and a bit extra.

I can’t imagine being happy without any family at all. I only have my husband and my son, really, but they’re my whole world.

He’s content with what he has, which is admirable, but aspiring to a lifestyle of loneliness, begging, and consuming literal feces is not admirable.

SmashTheState's avatar

I am so glad Amou Haji lives in a place where do-gooders can’t get at him and “fix” his happiness.

“There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life for fear that I should get some of his good done to me.”Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Seek's avatar

I have no desire to “fix” him at all.

I know plenty of people who live similar lives to him, and if you get three beers in them they’re more than happy to beg you for a ride, and spend the whole time in the car shouting at you and telling you how easy you have it because you have a job and a family.

Providing any kind of assistance to such people – no matter how regularly they ask for it – is not actually appreciated. They take and take from anyone willing to give, then brag about how they did it themselves without relying on “the man”.

I really wish my husband would stop falling for the pity party, but he doesn’t seem to be able to distinguish between people who want a hand up and will pay it forward eventually, and people who are just a black hole of resource consumption.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Does he say that he is happy?

Or are you, based on your value system, imputing your views that he is happy?

I wonder how much of your description is YOUR view of his life.

zenvelo's avatar

…and asks nothing other than to be left to enjoy his solitary existence,

More power to him if he can do so without any help or charity from others. But it appears he cannot.

jca's avatar

The majority of individuals prefer not to be charity cases and “beggars can’t be choosers” but to enjoy what they want, when they want, and for those individuals, they must work. If I want to go to a restaurant for dinner and have what I want or take a trip and explore the big world we live in, nobody’s paying for it but me. For that, it’s 35 hours a week plus commute to work.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I guess @Seek is right. Come to think of it, he reminds me of some homeless people I know. They’re really happy, but also prone to manic fits of rage out of nowhere. (Not saying the man the OP mentioned was ever violent. )

I think of those types as happy/content. But I would never try to fix them either. As long as they aren’t bullshitting me with some dumb story , I’ll usually give them a beer, or a couple bucks to buy one.

This ‘guy’ sounds like a homeless crackhead. Sorry ‘shithead.’

Who buys his poop that he smokes?~~

MrGrimm888's avatar

A lot of ‘beggers’ make more money than me. It’s kind of ironic…

The people who give the largest amounts are the biggest enablers. I guess I enable them too. But I just keep them drunk. Better to be a drunk homeless guy than a sober one, I suppose. If that’s their thing.

SmashTheState's avatar

And then people wonder why I hate liberals.

Seek's avatar

Because they use personal experience to inform their thoughts and actions?

canidmajor's avatar

Which people, @SmashTheState? I have never seen anyone here surprised at whom you hate.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Seek not the liberals I know in person.

trolltoll's avatar

if that’s the epitome of happiness, I’ll just keep on being miserable.

Sneki95's avatar

Oh come on people….

He probably stinks worse than Satan’s ass, but besides from that, who did he hurt? He lives completely isolated, in his own peace. Just because it greatly differs from our view of peace does not mean he is crazy or anything. In it’s own, stinky way, it’s kinda admirable that he made such a drastic step. Most people would never decide to isolate themselves, it is a horrifying thought for humans. He did not only that, but he threw away every part of what we consider “civilized” for the sake of his own peace. In a consumerist culture where your worth is measured by your belongings and where happiness is thought to be achieved through physical pleasure, it would take a considerable amount of reprogramming to find happiness in living in dirt.

And he found it, his own peace. How many of us can say we did it?

It’s not like he is shitting in the middle of the Sistine Chapel, he is living in his own self made peace oasis. Who are we to judge him, just because his peace is different than ours?

It’s a bit harsh to call him crazy: he just lives in a way greatly different than we do.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Sneki95 He literally smokes shit, I mean actual fucking shit as in feces. It takes a very radical definition of crazy for that not to be covered.

Sneki95's avatar

So? It hurts him, not us. If he wants to do it, let him be. And that shit is probably even healthier that those overprized chemical poison we call “cigarettes”. thruth be told, everything is healthier than that.
As long as he is not hurting anyone around him, or promotong any type of violence, it’s fine by me. People do all kinds of disgusting things that we all accept for god knows what reason. Crazy person would be the one who is incapable to live in a certain enviornment and is not able to function among humans. But deciding to live away from humans, is that really crazy? That would mean all those monks and yogins who decided to live isolated are crazy as well. I would not agree with that.
He smokes shit. So what? You and I certainly wouldn’t do that, but who cares? He is not forsing us to do it. It’s his thing.

Seek's avatar

I literally do not care at all about this person or his issues. I simply stated that aspiring to be like him is kind of silly, and not at all admirable.

rojo's avatar

While not aspiring to his particular lifestyle, I would still like to be as content with my life, whatever it may be, as he appears to be with his.

Coloma's avatar

I’m the one that called him mentally ill last night and I stand by sentiments.
Being fearful of cleanliness is not the way of the guru. lol
Hey, I’m all for living a Walden Pond lifestyle, which I have done for years, I am not overly attached to my possessions, love living, being in nature, have lived pretty simply, but WELL. As in, good, healthy food, an aesthetically pleasing environment and I shower/bathe every day, sometimes twice.

I’m all for finding your own path, knocking mainstream protocol, but…I’m sure as hell not going to live wallowing in my own filth of 60 years, smoking animal shit and sleeping in a hole in the ground. Sorry, the guys certified by any standard in any culture.

Coloma's avatar

P.S. He may very well be the happiest guy on earth, maybe in his state of delusion that rotted Porcupine tastes like Filet Mingon and Creme Brulle. lol

SmashTheState's avatar

@Coloma Apparently one is only allowed to be happy if one lives in ways of which the nice, clean, middle-class Westerners approve. Amou Haji harms no one, lives sustainably, makes no complaints about his life, and would be content to live his life alone if not for the media attention he gets, but you’d “certify” him and have him forcefully and violently removed from his happy life and injected full of chemicals to make him as miserable as you are.

And it doesn’t escape me that most of the rest of you use his lifestyle as an opportunity to exhibit your classist prejudice, ranting about hobos and panhandling. There was a time when Fluther had a rather wider range of opinions.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’m classist because I don’t like drug addicts begging me for the money I work hard for?

Coloma's avatar

@SmashTheState There you go again making assumptions. Where in the world did you get that I would have him institutionalized and pumped full of chemicals? Now that’s a leap of crazy in itself. I would do no such thing, I don’t care what the old geezer does but facts are facts and the man is not living a healthy life covered in dirt and filth, living in a hole in the ground, eating rancid meat and smoking shit.

Are you seriously going to argue that fact?
Secondly , ass-umption #2 I am am far from miserable and have known great and immeasurable joy in my life. I have straddled just about every fence there is, short of dwelling in the dirt and eating rancid meat for dinner and that’s an experience I can do without. If that makes me “Bourgeois” by your standards, well..what can I say? lol

You are the one with serious issues if you consider people to be “classist” because they aspire to keep a clean body, live in decent and healthy surroundings and not pan handle for a living. WTF is wrong with you!? You want to talk “classist” well dude, it is you that belittles anyone that doesn’t renounce all their worldly goods and live like a pan handling hobo. Which leads to ass-umption #3 ” most of the rest of us”, as if you could even, remotely, know any of us in any manner other than your fictitious, pulled out of your ass, tall tales of our pathetic, capitalist, bourgeois existences.

Go fucking smoke a pipe full of shit with your idol.
I have a mountain of horse shit here, it’s free, smoke all you want.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Tons of people are happier, just in different ways.

SmashTheState's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Yes, you are. You don’t give a flying fuck at a tumbling bagel about nice, white, middle class suburbanites addicted to prescription painkillers or getting drunk nightly on $30 bottles of chablis. Your moral opprobium is reserved for the victims of capitalist oppression who have the audacity and unmitigated gall to ask you for help instead of dying quietly somewhere out of your sight.

MrGrimm888's avatar

STS . I don’t give a fuck about any specific class. I’m certainly not middle class. I live in a house with 6 roommates (not a mansion.) I’ve had to work three jobs before just to pay my bills.

As for your ‘victims of capitalist oppression. ’ I would agree that capitalism plays a role. But a lot of the beggars I usually encounter are drug abusers looking for a way to buy more drugs. They aren’t asking me for ‘help.’ They make up bullshit stories about trying to feed babies, or get gas to go to work. When I give them money they go straight into the liquor store they’re begging in front of and buy…............You guessed it, liquor. Not baby food. Not gas.
They misrepresent their plight. Hoping to manipulate me emotionally.

They never ask me for a job, or work. They spend 12 hours a day sitting by a gas station or stoplight. I’ve heard they can make up to $40 an hour. Far more than I make working. Why work, when you’re banking like that?

Some are mentally ill. Some are victims of circumstances absolutely. Those are the ones I do help. But just because I don’t pay for a crackhead to get more crack doesn’t make me a bad person.

Your opinion seems to be that all homeless people are simply great people who can never get ahead because of the government. You don’t think you have sugar coated that ,or misrepresented them?

I work part time downtown sometimes, doing construction . I’m around the homeless a lot.

They want money. But they never ask if they could work with us for the day, or earn money in any way. They don’t seem to want to learn how to fish. They just want fish.

I didn’t make them this way. I’m not rude, I just don’t usually give them money. I bust my ass for my money. My tax money, we’ll some, goes to their shelters and aid programs.

If you have a realistic way of getting all the homeless a job, and place to live, I’m all for it. There are already programs available. Many don’t take advantage of them.
My mother was a social worker for the VA hospital. She ran the homeless veterans program for 30 years. She also was the women’s veterans coordinator.
Plenty of people try to help the homeless.

Stop acting like all they get is spit in their face.

If I’m classist. I’m classist against myself. I’ve been way too close to being homeless myself.

jca's avatar

@SmashTheState: It appears you divide the world in two ways: Poor, homeless beggars are wonderful people. Anyone else is a fool, pig, greedy, selfish. Am I oversimplifying your outlook? I’m basing it upon what you write here on Fluther. You also seem to assume everyone on Fluther is rich and greedy and cares nothing for others.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^That’s the impression I get…

jca's avatar

Also, since this is a question that is actually impossible to answer, I think @SmashTheState posted it solely as a platform to post his quotes and bash those who disagree with his premise.

canidmajor's avatar

Not the first time. ^

SmashTheState's avatar

Class hatred and flat-out poor-bashing is so universal – and most of you have such little insight – that it’s been normalized for you. This whole thread contains some of the most disgusting bigotry I’ve witnessed, and I hang around on 4chan. Did I know people here would react like this? Was I aware that the handful of people left on Fluther are mostly too dumb to question the ugly myth of the deserving poor? Yeah. Not much surprise. I think the reason I loathe liberals so much is the intellectual dishonesty, patting themselves on the back for being such free-thinking iconoclasts even while being judgemental prigs.

cookieman's avatar

^^ You sir, say the nicest things about your fellow Jellies.

canidmajor's avatar

Awww, @cookieman, someday he’ll realize that we do this just to get his goat. Then he’ll be so happy that we care enough to bother.

Seek's avatar

Oh, go smoke a turd.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

What happened to the happiness of this thread? ~~

Brian1946's avatar

What most of you Fluther Fascists don’t realize, is that fiber-rich turds are shaped so that they’re ready for rolling! ;-o

Coloma's avatar

What just tickles me beyond words is the amount of assumption and projection going on.
All middle class people are closet addicts, hooked on pain killers and drinking $30.00 bottles of Chablis and then there is the class hatred and flat-out poor bashing nonsense we are all accused of when Mr. Smashes pot is the blackest Kettle here.
Talk about class bias and hatred.
Why don’t we re-frame those famous last words above.

I am appalled at the * class hatred and average living to middle class bashing* that you are so famous for Smash man. Un-fucking- believable. Truly.

SmashTheState's avatar

For the anthropologically-challenged amongst you – which appears to be most of you – dried dung is commonly used as cooking fuel in desert cultures. The smell of dung smoke would be as familiar as the noxious burger fog which surrounds fast food restaurants in the West. But anyone who doesn’t share your cultural touchstones is “mentally ill,” right Flutherites?

And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. [Ezekial 4:12]

Brian1946's avatar

You don’t even need rolling papers to get high on noxious burger fog.

Seek's avatar

The next verse of that is “Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I will banish them.”…

Even the Bible thinks smoking poop is vile.

Seek's avatar

By the way, that whole section is talking about what people had to eat during a seige war. Because there was nothing else to eat, and no other fuel to burn.

Necessity. Not choice.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

dried dung is commonly used as cooking fuel in desert cultures

Coal is cooking fuel. Kerosene and propane, too.

Tell us about inhaling the smoke for fun. That sounds interesting.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think the real problem with @SmashTheState , is he’s only been around homeless people for so long he’s lost perspective.

I have to admit, if I were homeless for even a short spell, I would probably hate everyone more financially secure than myself.

As far as turds go. @Seek is correct. Feces is used in resource poor regions, where there isn’t a realistic alternative. Regardless of how familiar the smell, poop is not an ideal source of much, except fertilizer.

Coloma's avatar

^ Yep, burning Buffalo chips is not on the same continuum as smoking dung on purpose.
I agree with @MrGrimm888 sour grapes are a bitter fruit indeed.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar


“And Amou Haji is completely content with his life.”

Where the fuck did you get that from?

rojo's avatar

@Coloma so is umeboshi from what I hear (sour, that is)

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Isn’t the most expensive coffee int the world made from beetle shit?

Seek's avatar

It’s coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of a cat.

And no, I’ve never tried it.

Coloma's avatar

^^^ gah, super nasty! No thanks. haha

cookieman's avatar

@Seek: Clearly that coffee is for pussys.

Seek's avatar

I wonder if @SmashTheState will rethink his position on the willful consumption of faeces, since it’s been demonstrated to be a pasttime of the wealthy?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^My point exactly.

Brian1946's avatar

I have two feline feces factories living with me. This could mean replacing the life savings I lost. ;-o

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I’d like him to come back and answer my question.

Brian1946's avatar

I heard some poop puffers refer to each other as shit heads. ;-)

SmashTheState's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Why would I? As my 1500 or so answers here bear witness, I’ll argue with infinite patience with people who show good faith, which is half my job as an organizer. What people are displaying in this thread isn’t good faith, it’s the wolf-packing of a well-established echo chamber, precisely the behaviour I get mocked for referencing around here. You people are accustomed to feeling superior by using your rhetorical tactics on people you regard as stupid. I’m not stupid and I’m not going to play your games.

Seek's avatar

I suppose it’s my fault he cherry picked a Bible verse without knowing the story behind it.

Coloma's avatar

^ Likewise, and I refuse to be told that aspiring to live a decent life makes anyone “superior” or worse yet, according to you, some bourgeois, cold hearted fuck that just wants poor people to crawl off and die out of sight so they can sip their Chablis in a state of willful oblivion.

I don’t consider you stupid by any stretch but I do consider you to be a very angry individual with a huge chip on your shoulder. A chip you choose to shoulder not because of any of us, because it is, clearly, your identity.
The ever oppressed, professional victim of the capitalist bourgeois class which is insulting as hell when you don’t bother to actually ask any direct questions, only spew heavily laden negative assumptions about people you know nothing about in reality. Nothing about the hardships they might have endured, nothing about their sense of compassion, nothing, nothing at all, yet you label all of us as something lower than dirt if we dare question or disagree with your proselytizing.

You truly believe your won bullshit and nobody can argue with that.

jca's avatar

@SmashTheState: ”And Amou Haji is completely content with his life.”
@Espiritus_Corvus makes a good point above. I am not sure about you, but I don’t consider that to be ”the wolf-packing of a well-established echo chamber, or a stupid game.

Coloma's avatar


Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@SmashTheState Oh, stop playing the victim and answer my question.

jca's avatar

Maybe he’ll just wait a few weeks and then come back and tell us how we all suck so badly.

SmashTheState's avatar

See? This is exactly what I’m talking about. The snide asides with the subtext that I’m too stupid or deluded to see what’s happening and I can be goaded into being played with. You folks do realize that I’ve been giving hostile media interviews for more than 20 years, right? That I organized my local copwatch program and teach people how to handle angry, hostile men with guns who are trained to make people distressed? You’re not going to get my goat.

For the record, @Seek, I’ve read the Bible in two different editions (KJ and NI) cover to cover, as well as Strong’s Concordance. I’ve also read some of the more mystical christian theology, like Meister Eckhart. I didn’t “cherry-pick” anything. I quoted that passage to show that the use of dried dung as a cooking fuel has been in use for thousands of years in that part of the world, regardless of how “unclean” the old mosaic laws consider it. It continues to be used amongst nomadic peoples who live in places without easy access to wood. Smoking dried dung is no more unusual than smoking dried corn silk, which was once customary for people who couldn’t afford tobacco.

@Espiritus_Corvus I’ve been reading about Amou Haji for years. That isn’t the only article I’ve read about him. And by every account I’ve read, he is happy and content with his life.

MrGrimm888's avatar

He sounds happy to me. Just not my ideal life. I’m happy for him….

Seek's avatar

You don’t “read” a concordance. It’s a reference book that tells you which scriptures any given word appears in.

You used the scripture to show that using human dung as cooking fuel was common. Your scripture was describing an uncommon situation. Not a Mosaic law (you’ll look to the Pentateuch for that), but a story of a seige, where people were trapped in a city, the animals were dead, the fuel was used up, and they were forced to cook crackers in human shit or die of starvation.

Now, if you want to equate shit to fuel, show me a society that smokes charcoal briquettes.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Does he get high on the poop?

I’ve heard of people huffing poop in a bucket. This is the first I’ve heard of smoking doo doo.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@SmashTheState Amou may very well be content, but there wasn’t anything to support this in the 137-word article you referenced written by star Huffington Post (HP) reporter whom will from now on be known to me as Poopboy for his fabulous vocabulary and obsession with Amou’s smoking habits when there are many more important issues at stake here in understanding Amou’s frame of mind.

However, within this dearth of data, there are a couple of red flags in the articles referenced in Poopboy’s HP article hinting that he may not be content, to wit:

(1) ”...he said he had gone through some emotional setbacks in his youth and from then on decided to live an isolated life.” (HP)

(2) “He said he adopted his extreme, isolated lifestyle after suffering emotional setbacks in his youth.” (From the Jezebel blog as referenced in hyperlink 1 in the HP article)

(3) “The villagers say that he had suffered severe emotional setbacks in his youth, which led him to make these extreme choices.” (Oddity Central blog as referenced in hyperlink 2 in the HP article)

These statements could represent unresolved psychological issues leading to a possibly unhealthy lifestyle.

(4) ”...and for the last 60 years he has not taken a bath, because he believes ‘cleanliness brings him sickness,’ according to the _Tehran Times.”_ (Jezebel referencing a Tehran Times article, also referenced in hyperlink 3 in the HP article, which is now a Dead Link: Article HTTP Status 404)

(5) ”...the thought of a bath after all this time makes him very angry.” (HP)

(6) “Even the suggestion of a bath makes him very angry.” (Oddity Central)

These statements could represent a phobia and, as anyone who has had a phobia knows, unresolved phobias lead to everything from minor discomfitting changes in habits to major psychological and physical health problems.

Equally as important is the statements that he gets very angry at the mere mention of bathing. This could be a sign of mental illness, or it could be a normal reaction of a man just goddamned sick and tired of being told by everybody around him for the past 60 years to take a bath. He has his reasons and has stated them: he believes taking a bath will make him sick. Is it rooted in an irrational fear? Possibly. Even you must admit that his hygiene habits are against all tenets of medicine both East and West as to maintaining homeostasis.

However, this is a most unique case, possibly unprecedented, and it is possible that he is now so encrusted in a thick layer of dead skin and dirt (as evidenced by the photographs) that his skin pores are now effectively sealed off and no longer serve as a vector for disease and infection and now this tough crust serves as a shell of protection against the latter and even injuries that would open the skin of a person without this crust. Sealing off one’s skin pores inhibits aspiration, but Amou seems to have adapted to that also. And removal could involve a long and painful debridement process which would remove this protection—something Amou might object to.

As to Amou Hajib’s general psychological and physical health, there are no objective doctor’s reports to peruse to help determine this and there is no personal interview with Amou available. There are no direct quotes of Amou claiming good nor bad health, and there is nothing to determine his level of happiness or contentment. Like the rest of us, he probably has both good and bad days.

In a related personal note, I tell people all the time that I’m fine, that I can anything any average 63 year can do, which I believe is true and I think I prove on a daily basis. But if you were to see my medical history you would probably think otherwise when you come across the fact that I’ve had two heart attacks. So, sometimes the patient’s verbal statements can be misleading—but we don’t even have Amou’s words to read in order to make this determination.

I spent nearly a quarter century in nursing, some of that time as an admissions nurse and, in that time, I ran across a few hermits, mostly male and mostly with what the general public would consider poor hygiene. Some of them were certainly ripe for psychiatric diagnoses and some of them were people who just wanted to be left alone to live out their lives in solitude and in their own way. Nothing wrong with that.

Some of these weren’t even genuine misanthropes, they had nothing against the rest of humanity. They just didn’t find us interesting enough anymore to hang with us anymore and, as everybody knows, with humanity comes drama and with drama, complications, problems nobody seems interested in really solving, trivialities, inanities… it’s a long list and we are all familiar with it. I, personally, can understand people who would like to minimize all that and use their energy and time to pursue often more rewarding, solitary enterprises, even if it means just sitting under a tree and thinking about things, or living in a hole in the ground outside a village in Iran. Solitude. It can be nice. And some people need more of it than others to be happy.

But as an admissions nurse, I would be remiss to ignore those red flags I listed above.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Seek So this is what mansplaining feels like. Thank you for the experience. I have a copy of Strong’s Concordance sitting right beside me, so I know perfectly well what it is, and I can assure you it is entirely possible to read it, because I have. I also read an abridged OED when I was seven or eight, and spent most of my middle school lunches in the library working my way through the Encyclopedia Britannica from Aachen to Zymurgy.

@Espiritus_Corvus I’ve spent my entire adult life advocating, lobbying, and occasionally fighting for the rights of the underclass, not because I’m some kind of trust fund avenger of wrongs, but because I am also a crusty, iconoclastic hobo who is tired of being treated like I’m stupid or deranged. And in those decades of struggle, my most consistent opponents, the people who have been most intrusive, authoritarian, and disdainful, have been medical professionals, poverty pimps, and nice, white, liberal, suburban soccer moms. Over and over again I’ve had to shake people loose from hospital psych wards whose only crime was living in untraditional ways, or been forced to take legal action to secure the constitutionally guaranteed rights of people who refuse to be poor and look different behind closed doors, where they won’t scare the tourists and soccer moms.

Let me give you a practical example. First, some background. We have organizations here called BIAs, which stand for Business Improvement Areas. They are essentially an unelected level of government run by business. Any area has the legal right to form a BIA as long as 51% of the businesses vote for one, at which point an automatic tax levy is added to the property taxes of all businesses in the area, which funds the BIA, and is accountable to no one except their board of directors. These BIAs have broad rights to dictate what happens on the streets they encompass, and in Ottawa they even secretly paid to have a police station set up – a scandal I was personally responsible for breaking to the media. Probably two-thirds of all the work I’ve done for the last 20 years has been dealing with the constant assaults by BIAs on the poor, the young, and, in particular, the homeless, all of whom BIAs hate and try to drive away.

There was a politician at city hall who frequently championed the BIAs and he and I became arch-nemeses. He proposed a new bylaw which would have made it a crime to yell, swear, or do anything which a police officer regarded as a “nuisance” on any city street. I made local headlines when I addressed council and told them, should this bylaw pass, the very next day I would be outside city hall with a megaphone and would repeat the word “FUCK” until I received a bylaw infraction, and would then challenge it on constitutional grounds. I was called out of order for using “FUCK” at council, on live television – as I knew I would be. I then held a press conference to announce my plans at the same time I let “slip” that we had reached a settlement with the city over our million dollar lawsuit, and that they city should know better than to challenge us.

The response to this was legal threats from the city and an offer from the Defence Council Association to back my constitutional challenge pro bono – and a dismissive comment from the head of the Byward Market BIA that I “have problems,” and that I was just some hobo nutjob.

Incidentally, I killed the proposed bylaw. City staff told council they think they could win a constitutional challenge, but that they could guarantee there would be one, and that it would be long and expensive. And to nail the coffin shut, I ran against the councillor who proposed it in the following election; I didn’t win, but I cost him his job, since I was third out of seven and he lost by just 44 votes. Not bad for a crazed, mentally deranged hobo.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I admire your type of activism as I am also often disturbed by the existence of abhorrent organizations such as BIAs that would like to eliminate completely the disenfranchised of our society in the most brutal ways imaginable. I believe agitation against this it is sorely needed. You are on the vanguard and I understand that. I too have had personal dealings with BIAs in my home county of Pinellas, Florida, a county with an economy quite dependent on tourism. My activism, not as direct as yours, has been spent within the system as a community nurse dealing with individuals whose rights are often violated by people within my profession, licensed personnel who can exercise great power over other people, at a whim.

Many of these abusive type of medical professionals, I believe, entered the medical profession too early in their lives and lack the life experience to understand individuals who live lifestyles outside of their own narrow definition of “normal.”—the definition of which is purposely left obscure in the DSMs to account for it’s many situational and cultural variants. I recognized early that some of my fellow colleagues—not many—were bigoted against those who lived differently from what you have repeatedly and vehemently labeled the bourgeoisie.

I am intimately familiar with the injustices sometimes practiced by the medical profession in the case of the poor, from substandard care to undeniable abuse of power and I am glad to meet someone who works against this. It is an open wound in our society that is often swept under the rug by peers and administrators—and a good, hefty lawsuit now and then seems to be the only thing that keeps them on their toes. These suits are hard to win because intent must be proven, but believe me, the risk to careers and the expense to medical institutions puts the fear of God in these people. And so, bravo to you.

I remember one case in particular. One my colleagues in community nursing, a bitter woman of 50 who had experienced an unhappy divorce and was finding her life choices and career unrewarding. One day she recommended a patient to be Baker Acted—to be forcibly removed from his home by the police for mandatory 72-hour psychiatric observation. He was an equally irascible retired male diabetic and double amputee who we were visiting three times a week to perform wound care. She simply she didn’t like the way he kept his small, dingy apartment and his bigoted opinions concerning women and damn near everything else. These are not to be ever entered as elements of consideration in patient care and there are mechanisms that are supposed to prevent abuse of all patients, difficult or otherwise—because even if Adolf Hitler or that bastard city councilman you described above comes to us for healthcare, they are to receive the same level of care as everyone else.

She trumped up enough medical bullshit in her progress notes and a phone call to his primary physician that the doc actually signed off on the order. The other nurses on the case, including myself, appealed the process and were able to interrupt the process and had them man put back in his apartment. An individual saved from abuse of power. We were able to drive that nurse into retirement. It was a small thing, but it was important and she was not the only one to come under the hammer over the years.

But my job was to deliver healthcare according to established medical ethics, which are a good and fair set of ethics but are also, as you know, sometimes abused. I spent my career ethically delivering healthcare and ensuring the professionals around me did the same. I eventually had friends in high enough places who were not inclined to discount me as just another disgruntled employee.

Here is an example how St. Petersburg, Florida Police and the Pinellas County Sheriff Department deals with the homeless when there is a big baseball game between top contenders coming to town. It is an on-going injustice. We have Direct Action activists like yourself—never enough—to ensure these abuses do not go nationally un-noticed and that any abuses will further hurt the county tourism—because the bourgeoisie does care when they can be torn away from the business of working and raising their own families in a world so rife with injustices that they are often overwhelmed by the horror of it all.

And understanding this is integral to successful activism. Beating potential allies —which includes everybody—over the head with vehement diatribes only makes them unsympathetic. Not cool, but true. And 19th century polemics go right over most of their heads. In this, you are only speaking to the choir. The illumination of all causes of injustice—injustice is always universal— must always be shown how it is universal, how all of us can be affected now or later, because causes against injustice do not just affect the homeless, or gays, or a certain race, or to whomever, but affect us all. The activist must show all of us how this works, or there will never be enough people on board to resolve these injustices. This is the primary responsibility of activists against injustice.

You may find this hard to believe at the moment because of this recent dogpiling, but you have many allies here on this site. I know of no one here who would actively work against the cause of the disenfranchised you fight for. But you can’t expect people to be motivated to sympathize with a cause against injustice if they are collectively insulted. That’s people. In this busy world, the fuck you’s are handed out often, but not indiscriminately. It’s an unpleasant truth one must contend with. Charm sometimes is difficult, especially when your prejudices cause you to perceive you are bedding with the enemy, but it is necessary to the success of the cause.

And patience, my friend. Lots and lots of patience will serve you well. Do what you can, but never expect the changes in society you fight for to take place in your lifetime. Your job is, if I might be so bold as to make the suggestion of what your job is, to make headway for the next generation. Sometimes we must be satisfied with just that.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Why don’t someone just go over there and show him how to be a material-grabbing, keep up with the Jones, self-absorbed, hedonist capitalist then most of the US would figure him normal and leave him be. ~~

SmashTheState's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I apologize, I realize that I can be more than a bit crusty and cantankerous, but in my defence it’s not often I meet a decent medical professional; they’ve killed more than one of my comrades.

We had two members, a gay couple, who went to the hospital because one guy was having severe abdominal pains. Because they were homeless, the hospital refused to take them seriously. The assumption at hospitals is that poor people who present with any kind of pain are there to scam them out of opiates. They gave him an aspirin and sent them both away. That night, he just fell over and was dead before he hit the ground. We never did find out how he died because he was homeless and no one gave a shit how he died, so no autopsy was ever done.

The million-dollar lawsuit we filed against the city was over a pedestrian underpass which had been a battleground for us for many years. It was used by poor people and the homeless as a hang-out spot, but because it was kitty-corner from Parliament Hill and right beside a shopping mall listed as the most expensive real estate in the country, it’s regarded as an embarassment. One night, one of our members (a squeegee kid by the name of Cactus) was sleeping under the underpass when some drunk middle class dude started taking a piss by his head. Cactus jumped up and took a swing at the guy with his squeegee, and the guy responded by pulling out a knife and stabbing Cactus in the chest. When the ambulance arrived, they stood at the top of the underpass and watched Cactus die because they “didn’t feel safe” going down with all the dirty poor people and waited for police to arrive.

(The city used Cactus’ death as an excuse to put up steel fencing to keep people out, which is why we filed our lawsuit on constitutional grounds. The guy who stabbed Cactus was found not guilty because the courts said he was defending himself against a scary homeless person.)

I could go on. And on. And on. I could tell dozens, maybe hundreds of similar anecdotes, but it sounds like you’re already well aware of the kind of treatment poor people get. Myself, for example, I live with chronic pain. I have poor circulation and neuropathic damage to my hands and feet because I’ve been diabetic for close to 30 years, but can’t get pain relief. I’m poor and look like a hobo, so no one will prescribe opiates. In fact, clinics in poor neighbourhoods here have signs posted everywhere saying “WE DO NOT PRESCRIBE OPIATES.” If you’re a middle class soccer mom, they’ll throw hydrocordone at you like candy, but poor people are all scammers who want to sell their meds on a street corner, so they get to live with chronic pain.

And for the record I agree with you, it’s important to be able to reach out and make connections, even across class lines. And I’m frequently forced to smile and shake hands with the devil, sitting across the table from cops and shitbag politicians, negotiating for what I can get. Fluther just tends to push my buttons. I get frustrated when I can tell that people are not arguing in good faith.

Edit: I thought I’d add, just last week a woman I used to know, Annie Pootoogook, was found floating in the river, dead, near a homeless shelter in Ottawa. Police shrugged their shoulders and declared it was accidental without even investigating; just another drunk Indian who fell in the river and died. It wasn’t until people realized that this homeless, drunk Indian was also an internationally-celebrated Inuit artist with work in the National Art Gallery that police opened an investigation. If she hadn’t turned out to be famous, they’d have shoved her into a hole in the ground and forgotten she existed.

Coloma's avatar

@SmashTheState While a lot of what you share is, clearly, not only sad but completely bias towards homeless there can also be valid concerns when dealing with potentially mentally ill, drug addicted or violent strangers/homeless. There is an area not far from me where there are quite a few homeless and many have heroin issues. It is a real problem, needles all over a local park that they finally kicked the drug users out of and reclaimed it as a family friendly park.
Many refused to be sent to a homeless shelter or rehab facility because they want to continue doing drugs.

I give out a few dollars here and there but I have also had cause to feel threatened by a few. Not long ago I was at a corner, waiting to make a turn and a homeless guy asked me for some money, I declined and he screamed at me ” I should have known, you BITCH!” Really? Great way to engender compassion from a perfect stranger.

Yep, you’re damned right I rolled up my window and hit the auto lock on my doors.
So a single women in her car with the window down getting verbally assaulted by a homeless guy should not have cause to feel some trepidation?
I certainly wouldn’t walk down under an overpass with a lot of strange homeless people either and that doesn’t make me or anyone unkind, it makes us smart.
Also, while it may be true that there is a stigma of homeless or poor seeking opiate drugs at ER’s the fact is almost ALL physicians are declining prescribing opiates these days because of the propensity for abuse across all classes.

I fell and really hurt my arm/shoulder and neck a few months ago and when I asked my doctor for something stronger because the Ibuprofen wasn’t cutting it, she declined and told me to just keep taking the Advil. I am/was a middle class white women, never a soccer mom, gak, and have no history of drug abuse but my own doctor declined my one and only request for a few weeks of a stronger pain reliever while my torn Deltoid muscle was healing. I have a friend with MS that takes Norco for nerve pain and she has had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get her, very legitimate and needed pain meds.

It is because there is so much abuse all around and not just because of drug use in the homeless populations.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I’ve only recently got health insurance. Obama care, for $13 a month. Before that I had to use the ER as my doctor for about 15 years. No preventative care, no nothing.

When I was 22 I had to go because my leg wouldn’t stop hurting. Diagnostics revealed a DVT (deep vein thrombosis, or blood clot.) The doctor told me it would require a lengthy hospital stay, and that it was life threatening. The hospital refered me to a vascular specialist. When I sat down with the specialist, his first question was what type of insurance I had. When I said none, he politely asked me to leave. No hospital would treat me,I was told, due to the expense. After a few days I aquired a sort of poor people’s insurance. Enough for them to treat me. After a week or so in the hospital I was released. I had to have blood tests for the next 6 months about 4 times a week.

Long story short, when the dust settled, the amount I owed that wasn’t covered by the poor insurance was almost $80,000.
At the time I made about $9,000 a year. I was of course unable to pay it . So my credit was beyond ruined. My life was forever changed. From that moment I have struggled to get decent health care, places to live, and even some jobs check my credit history before hiring.

I tore my ACL when I was 30. More dozens of thousands of dollars owed.

I could go on,but who cares.

I found out years later that people without insurance are charged sometimes 3 or 4 times what someone with insurance is charged. Exponentially raising my costs.

Sometimes the ER treats me. Sometimes they send me away with nothing. I can hear them down the hall talking about me. So ,I know it was because I had no insurance.

I’m not homeless. But I’ve been poor since I can remember. And treated thusly. Who knows how many people have died from lack of being ,not poor.

At least I can go to the doctor now thanks Obama.

Steps are being taken to help the poor, but those steps are uphill, through a hail of arrows….

jca's avatar

@Coloma gives a great example of why people don’t want homeless hanging around. Someone aggressively demanding money, insulted that people are not giving him the attention he feels he deserves or giving him money he needs for whatever. It just takes one instance of an aggressive person screaming and scaring people and then the shoppers are no longer coming there. Word gets around quickly that the scary things are happening (even just a few times of being chased or screamed at and it’s enough to spread the word). People start shopping elsewhere, someplace newer and safer. The store keepers and business owners leave the area because you can’t pay high rents if shoppers aren’t coming around.

Smash said it himself – he scared a woman, inadvertently. Still, she may no longer be frequenting that area.
She tells her friends “Oh my God this scary guy was following me screaming at me” and then the friends say “I heard there is a great theater/store/cafe/restaurant/mall/apartments at such and such a place and it’s nice and bright and safe.” Voila. Word has gotten around and they’re now bringing their business elsewhere or moving out of the neighborhood.

Coloma's avatar

@jca Exactly.
There was a Wells Fargo bank on a busy street not far from me that had a corner lot with alawn, small hills and pretty cedar trees shading the corner. It became a hang out for the homeless that were harassing bank customers. They finally put a chain link fence up around the area to keep them out. Being harassed by aggressive homeless people is not something that feels safe to most.

Coloma's avatar

@MrGrimm888 What a terrible experience! I went without insurance for 3 years after I was wiped out in the recession after years and years of good, private coverage. I was lucky, short of running to an urgent care for something minor like a sinus infection I made it through that time without incident, but, it was on my mind every-single-day. Glad you have coverage now.

SmashTheState's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus You’re seeing why this place makes me hostile. These same liberal twats wouldn’t even think of saying they feel threatened by the presence of blacks or Jews or queers, but being poor makes it perfectly okay to assume someone is a dangerous, deranged, drug-addicted psychopath. Apparently no one is afraid of middle class or rich drunks and drug addicts – who can afford a fuckload more booze and drugs than poor people – but being poor makes you scary.

Seek's avatar

I am poor.

I’m not destitute, but I’ve been there.

Real life stuff: I like the guy at Aldi, who approaches at a safe distance and asks if he can return my cart for me. The Aldi carts have a quarter deposit, so for every four “yeses” he gets a buck. Sometimes I’ll hand him whatever change I have in the car, too.

He lives in the backyard of a foreclosed house behind the store, and feeds a bunch of stray cats with some of the money he gets.

He never says anything negative if someone turns him down. That’s a big thing. And he doesn’t approach your car unless you give him permission. That’s massive.

I’m a woman of small stature. I don’t carry a gun and I have no plans to start. I appreciate when people are understanding of personal space and my own concern for my safety.

People who bang on my car window at intersections can fuck right off.

jca's avatar

@SmashTheState: You’re missing the point, maybe on purpose, maybe not.

It’s not to do with someone being Jewish or black or white or gay or straight. It’s not to do with people being poor or homeless. It’s to do with the few who are aggressive and demanding. @Coloma gave an example. A few of those in an area and the homeless poor are stigmatized. I gave examples above of how it happens and you know that my example does occur.

Coloma's avatar

@SmashTheState You are incorrect. I would feel threatened by anyone that was yelling at me for any reason. When a man screams at you, 6 feet away from your open car window and calls you a “bitch” because you decline to give him money which he seems to feel entitled to, well….get off your high horse. I also had a homeless guy once grab a sandwich right out of my hand at a park.

He asked for some food, I was EATING my sandwich and I offered him an apple and he snatched my sandwich right out of my hand! That is assault.
Fuck you if you think people shouldn’t feel healthy caution for strangers of any kind, homeless or otherwise.

SmashTheState's avatar

Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s not decent, god-fearing black people who know their place who bother you, it’s the niggers, right? I’ve heard all this bullshit out of the mouths of bigots all my life. Their bigotry is always perfectly justified. It’s not the nice ones, it’s just all those terrible faggots who are molesting children! It’s not the nice Jewish man who runs the deli, it’s just the evil media-controlling kike shills in Hollywood!

No, @jca, I get the point. I get it perfectly. And it’s why I hold liberals in such contempt.

I love Puerto Ricans and Negros,
As long as they don’t move next door

jca's avatar

I am baffled at how you can’t understand why people don’t want to be followed and screamed at. I am baffled at why you feel it’s unjust for a store owner to not want his customers to be harassed when they’re trying to access his store.

SmashTheState's avatar

I am baffled at how you can’t understand why people don’t want to be mugged and raped by niggers. I am baffled at why you feel it’s unjust for a store owner to not want his customers to be threatened by baggy-pantsed, gun-toting, drug-dealing, ebonics-rapping gangsta niggers when they’re trying to access his store. I don’t hate all black people, just all the inferior, ape-lipped, uneducated, violent, crack-smoking niggers.

Coloma's avatar

@SmashTheState You hold everyone in contempt. I thought I might be able to appeal to your better side, but you just don’t have one.
Sooo, let me see if I have this right, because I locked my car doors when I was verbally assaulted by an angry homeless guy and was frightened when I had a sandwich grabbed right out of my hand that makes me a racist homophobic now? FYI BOTH of these encounters were white males. Your “logic” defies explanation.

I wonder if you’d say such horrible things to your own children, daughters/sons or wife or girlfriend if they were accosted by some belligerent homeless person.
Oh yes, just what I want to be mugged and raped by ANYONE of ANY age or color.
Ya know, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar and that goes for a street people too.

Seek's avatar

@SmashTheState, I hope it’s as lonely on your pedestal as you aim to be.

I’m done with you.

MrGrimm888's avatar

The problem is that some homeless are desperate.


Desperation leads to someone resorting to actions that are anomalous in society. If I’m hungry enough,you’re damn right I’ll snatch you’re sandwich, or your necklace.

THAT is the difference between seeing a drunk poor,middle class, or whatever class non homeless person. Those people are less likely to be desperate enough to do something desperate.

@SmashTheState . I respect some of the things you say on these regards, but I’m getting the impression that you enjoy pitting yourself against everyone. Flutherites attempting to find common ground with you, or explain their positions are met with a seething tirade of anger. It seems you’re rather sharky. What’s sharky? When sharks bite, they roll their protective covering over their eyes. Essentially, they bite blind.

Much like yourself you squeeze your eyes tight ,and lash out.Instead of listening, you only hear what you want to allow you to rage against imagined hostility.

IMO.Your cause would be better served if you communicated with others, rather than hurling offensive, insulting rants that ignore the jellies mentioned points.

You seem quite intelligent. I’m interested in your views. But this thread has the feeling,that you set it up as a minefield. Waiting for the slightest misstep, so you can admonish everyone with your false aspersions on our character.

May I ask. What was your intention when starting this thread?

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