Meeting Cliff, one cool dude. By Peter Vooys
We’d already seen and learned a lot at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard. On Sunday we’d attended their morning service, and I really dug their style of worship (very cool use of guitars. Great soundman. Music levels not too high. Appropriate use of instrumental breaks, that were sometimes long but always fit the song well, etc.) We came back on Tuesday, May 28 for their drop-in program, which was a challenge. I get shy about meeting people sometimes, especially if I’m on their turf. If it’s my turf, and /or I know a lot of people around, I’m quite good at meeting new people, but Tuesday was challenging. On Tuesday, Shaun Paulson and I met a few nice gents, one was from Quebec, we spoke a little bit of French, and I was glad to have made the effort, even though it took a few minutes to get the nerve up after Beth’s nudge to “go introduce yourselves”. After we chatted and sang several songs for the people at Vineyard’s Tuesday drop-in, we went to a meeting room and a few of their pastors talked with us about what they do. One of their pastors, John, pointed to the corner across Main Street (Main and Sutherland) and talked a little about some of the violence that happens on that corner. He pointed out several police cameras covering different angles of that corner.
After his talk, I realized that I wanted a picture on that street corner. It was maybe Canada’s most violent corner? Yep, that would be worth a photo. I mentioned this out loud, and Shaun agreed that he too would like a picture there. We asked Christina if she’d take a picture of us, and we went outside.
It was raining outside, and on the corner we met a fellow who’d been at the drop-in, and he started chatting with us. He told us he used to do security for rock concerts, and shared a few anecdotes. I was really interested, and I asked if he’d be coming back to the drop-in on Thursday, so he could tell us some more stories about being a security guard and bouncer. We asked him to take a photo of us on the corner, he did. And he said he might be coming on Thursday. I hoped so.
Come Thursday, a much more tired, much more mentally taxed Peter showed up at drop-in. We had just had a great learning session with former Assembly of First Nations chief Ovide Mercredi, and we were late for drop-in. I think my brain was starting to hurt by this point. Not from Mr.Mercredi’s chat, which was really cool, but the previous night I’d had my first “I think we’re pushing too hard” experience of the tour, and cumulatively, I was a little worn out. I didn’t see Cliff, but sat down at a table with a few empty chairs, and showed enough interest in a conversation being had by other drop-in folks and HTH members to be polite (one conversation, specifically, which I can’t remember to save my life), but I was not really an active participant.
Then Cliff came up and sat down, and asked if I was still interested in hearing those stories. Absolutely I was! This was, I think, just what I needed. Someone telling interesting, fun stories. Not sad stories, not stories that would expand my worldview, I’d heard plenty of these already. Just fun stories about brawls and the seedy side of town in days past. For the record, I’ve never been in a bar-room brawl. But I was a rather scrappy lad, and I enjoy stories about fights and punching people.
Cliff had been quite the bouncer, I could tell. He started telling me about a group of bouncers that he was part of, a clean-up patrol of sorts. He said that hotel and bar managers would call them when things were getting out of hand, and they wanted to clear some riff-raff from their establishment. He said that for a while in their career doing this, the police would follow behind them with a paddy wagon, and fill it with the fellows the patrol tossed out of bars. He told a lot of stories of specific instances in his life doing this, and later, doing security jobs, and I was impressed.
Cliff showed me a few ways to handle a drunk person who is out of control. He showed me the power of using pressure points to bring a belligerent where you need them to be. I asked him to demonstrate on me. My upper lip still remembers the effectiveness of his lip-twist manoeuvre. It was deadly! I really enjoyed hearing Cliff’s stories. I was riveted by his tales of the group of bouncers. I feel like this would be an interesting book to write. Winnipeg is not Calgary, and it was really interesting to be around this area, which was like multiple Cecil Hotels mixed with the pawn shops of Seventh Avenue. Sad stories there were aplenty. But also some cool people. Like Cliff.
After my chat with Cliff, Suhail, an intern on the pastoral team, gave us a rundown on Winnipeg Vineyard Centre’s School of Justice. This is a program that runs starting in October of this year. If you’re interested in this, you can find the link at:
All of our experiences at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Christian Fellowship were valuable, and I highly suggest checking them out if you’re looking for a church in Winnipeg. And I suggest reading up on their website, and praying for their ministry, which has touched a lot of lives.