Disabled auto body repairman says he is... TIRED OF LIVING IN A CAR

Staff reporter

Sunday, March 18, 2018

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JOSEPH Blake says he has spent over 40 years in poverty and has been forced to live in his vehicle after his life spiralled downward when he lost an eye and was mutilated by a man wielding a machete.

Now, Blake wants to get away from living like he has been for close to a decade and is looking to find another means of resting his head at night. “Me nuh really want to be here,” he said referring to his acquired, yet unusual 'home' yesterday.

Blake, who is an auto body repairman by trade, said he was working at a mechanic shop on Ravinia Road in Kingston when he had an accident that caused him to lose sight in his left eye.

“The mechanic shop was very feeble, and one day I was sanding down a car with an automatic sander (that didn't have a switch at the time) and a piece of board fell from the ceiling,” he said, adding that he closed his eyes in fright and “by the time I opened my eyes again a piece of the fibre disk had broken off and flew into my eye and damaged my retina.”

The 66-year-old, who is from Above Rocks in St Catherine, said the incident happened in the late 1970s and doctors advised that they were not able to save his eye.

He further told the Jamaica Observer that although he was on the job when the accident happened, the owners of the shop were unable to compensate him because they had no insurance.

“I could hardly do that work anymore, no one wanted to hire someone with one eye,” said a dejected looking Blake, who was wiping the inside of his white 1988 Peugeot 505 vehicle with a chamoi cloth as he spoke.

As if matters couldn't get worse, Blake said that a few years after losing his eye, his hands became damaged in an altercation with another man.

“I lost the use of my hand over four bottles of water,” said Blake.

Black explained that while filling the bottles at a yard in which he was staying, an argument developed between him and another man who accused him of stealing the bottles.

“He took the machete and chopped me in my head and on my hand, if it wasn't for the damage to my hand I wouldn't be right here right now,” said Blake as he motioned to the inside of his car which was littered with old books, newspapers and magazines.

The once able-bodied man said his car — which sports four new tyres and is parked outside of a plaza at 19 Kew Road in Kingston — has served as his place of residence for years. “Anything wrong with this car, I can fix it, the only thing that's wrong with it right now is that the battery is dead.”

Owner of nearby Sanchez Auto Repair Desmond 'Sanchez' Clarke said he has known the disabled man before his auto repair shop relocated from Lilford Avenue, which is a stone's throw away.

“He was always in his car outside of the shop and that is where he sleeps for the past eight years that I have known him,” said Clarke.

“He tells people that he is watching the place and sometimes he will make himself useful, but no one really employs him to do it,” explained the mechanic, while adding that shop owners on the plaza would still give Blake “a change”.

Clarke noted that Blake did not give any trouble and was “full of pride”.

“He won't take any and anything from people, it's really just a man that probably used to do him thing and now needs some help.”

Blake pointed out that since his accidents he has bounced from odd job to odd job and even did security work. However, he asserted that persons have only sought to take advantage of him.

“A lot of time I do work for people and they don't pay me,” he said.

“As something happen they do away with you, no one is giving anybody a chance,” said Blake, who now wants to open his own bodywork shop.

“When you run your own show, people can't tell you what to do and do with you as they please,” he reasoned.

As it relates to family, Blake said he was the eldest of 12 children for his mother and helped to take care of his other siblings when he was able to. However, he said that they have abandoned him.

“I am no longer up to their standard, so they don't pay me any mind now,” he said.

He added that some of the siblings he helped to get a better education are now living abroad but he has not heard or seen them in years.

“God is going to have to help me, because people can't help me, mi nuh want nuh work from nobody because people not genuine sometimes,” he said.

“People will help me and give me a thing now and then and I still give the Almighty thanks because I'm living.”

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