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The Dave X Change Challenge

Dave has requested I identify him only as ‘Dave X’ when discussing the Change Challenge. In keeping with his wishes for a somewhat cloaked identity, I have rendered this photograph tiny and indistinct.

It’s a photograph of Dave X at one of his garage sales. Dave doesn’t actually have a garage, being homeless and all (he’s quick to point out that he’s technically not homeless since he inherited a cottage from his father, which makes him homeless only in the winter months – but really, living in Ottawa, if one had to choose, most of us would likely prefer to have our seasonal housing in the wintertime).

The lack of a garage has never stopped Dave from having garage sales. He just borrows his friends’ garages, yards and driveways.

Because he won’t work or apply for welfare or panhandle or steal, Dave lives on an extremely limited income. The weekly garage sales from April to October net him about $50. The living’s much leaner in the wintertime. He literally lives on what he can find. Last year he found just over $200 in (mostly) change lying on the ground. In Canada, the smallest bill we have is $5, and on rare occasions he finds a $5 or a $20, but mostly it’s change.

The secret of Dave’s success in finding change is:
1) Walk a lot, and always watch the ground
2) Check out the areas just outside the bars at closing time
3) Look under the drive-thru windows at fast food joints
4) Check every pay phone and newspaper box you see

Dave eats a lot of bread, bananas and peanut butter. My friend’s mom gave him some Indian butter chicken a while ago, and he rinsed it off under the tap and ate it. He loves to watch Jeopardy, and he’s pretty good at it, but he has all kinds of rules that we all have to abide by – for instance, no yelling out the answers: we must proceed in an orderly fashion and take turns answering.

But I digress. The Dave X Change Challenge came into being when I declared that all my co-workers and I (there are 23 of us) could find more money in a year than Dave could. Dave loves a challenge, and he accepted this one on the condition that we only refer to him as Dave X. (Don’t ask.) At the end of the year, my co-workers and I will give half of our found change to the Humane Society, and the other half to Dave.

Well, we’re 21 days into the year now, and Dave has found $7.12. My 22 coworkers and I are up to 77 cents. Naturally we’ve started making excuses and Dave has started gloating. Our #1 excuse (and really, it’s not so much an excuse as it is a reason) is that we’re cooped up in an office during all the daylight hours, while Dave’s free to wander about town finding money all day long. Dave says our lifestyle choices are not his problem.

We haven’t given up yet. I have great hopes for Daylight Savings Time, when Dave starts spending more time at the cottage and the rest of us start spending more time outside during daylight. I’m sure we’ll start to close the gap then.

13 comments to The Dave X Change Challenge

  • Very interesting story and nicely told. I have noticed a fair bit of change on the ground at bus stops, so you can tell Dave this or see if your coworkers can get a little bit ahead, your choice. Of course, I notice this phenomenon more when I am riding my bike and I am sure the change disappears under the snow. I think we are all waiting for Spring.

  • Dakota

    Great story and challenge! I wonder who will win. I think it’s going to be Dave, because he has a trained eye, but we will have to wait and see :) Best of luck to both parties!

    Oh and the fact that he has garage sales without a garage is ingenious :)

  • Interesting stuffs. I hate to call it a story ’cause obviously it’s more than that, but great story

  • […] I lent my old apartment (next door) to homeless Dave X, of the Dave X Change Challenge, until March 1. He gets a warm place to sleep during a cold snap, and in exchange, he’s cleaning it up for me. There’s nothing like moving out of a place to make you realize what a terrible housekeeper you are. After you get all the furniture out, all that’s left is dog hair and bird feathers wrapped up in spider webs. Anyway, Dave found 20 pennies in the bedroom closet. He offered to split it with me. He’s up to $44.69 now, and my 22 co-workers and I are at $6.35. […]

  • […] Zoom & Co narrowed the gap a little bit this week in the Dave X Change Challenge. We had a banner day on Monday. First Nancy came in, absolutely flush with success, with seven pennies in her mitten. She’d found five on the way home from work, and two on the way to work. Then Coryse came in beaming because she’d found a penny after a long dry spell. The three of us were still talking about all the pennies when Laura burst in, exclaiming “You’re gonna love me! Look what I found!” And she extracted a $5 bill from her back pocket, which she’d found outside Direnzo’s sandwich shop in Little Italy. […]

  • […] The Dave X Change Challenge entered its fifth month today, and as you can see, Dave continues to maintain a comfortable lead over Zoom & Co. We commiserated on Saturday about how slim the pickings have been lately for all of us. I expected a bonanza of loose change to emerge from the melting snow in March and April, but it never materialized. Dave says he had well over $60 by this time last year. But he encouraged me not to give up: all it takes is one stroke of luck, one moment of being in the right place at the right time, to cause a complete reversal of fortunes. You just never know when the fates are going to smile on you. You could be resting on a park bench when a hundred dollar bill comes floating by on a gentle breeze…. […]

  • […] Dave X surged ahead of us during the month of May, largely because of one phenomenal red letter day. You know where they dump all the snow that’s plowed from your streets, somewhere down around Somerset and Bayswater? That huge snow mountain is still melting. Dave went and wandered about there, looking for change that might be accumulating on the surface as the snow melted. Guess what he found? A $50 bill! Later that same day he found a $10 bill on the street. […]

  • […] For those of you who have been following the Dave X Change Challenge, we have a long overdue update. (And for those of you who haven’t, this is all about a contest between one homeless man – Dave X – and the entire staff of nine people in my office, to see who can find the most money on the streets of Ottawa in 2006. Here’s a bit of background.) […]

  • […] What can I say? Dave X continues to obliterate the competition. The year-to-date totals are: Dave X: $201.01 Zoom & Co.: $27.26. (Click here for the snazzy Dave X Change Challenge Flash Chart.) […]

  • […] Later in the morning I got an email from Homeless Dave X, thanking me for the pizza, but saying he didn’t think his system could handle pizza. Hmmm. So I guess Ken traded my pizza for something from Dave, but what could it be? Dave X pretty much lives on peanut butter sandwiches and lightly freckled bananas, and there’s no way he’d trade those for pizza. Maybe Ken just gave my pizza to Dave X. In that case, what did Ken have for lunch? And what did Dave X do with my pizza? Did he trade it to somebody else for something else? Did it work its way through the homeless population, getting traded for more and more interesting things along the way? […]

  • […] Dave X dropped by the office on Wednesday afternoon. He finally decided it was time to pick up his winnings from the Dave X Change Challenge, which ended on December 31st, and which he won by a landslide (something like $240 to $28). I ran into him at the library a couple of weeks ago and asked him when he would be picking up his $28. Now the thing about Dave X is that he really needs the money but he’s very shy. I had jokingly told him once that when he came by to pick up his winnings, we’d have a photographer and one of those giant cheques waiting for him, and we’d have a little presentation ceremony. The prospect terrified him: he abhors attention. […]

  • […] X: Take a picture of my bunsRemember my old friend Dave X? He was there and he invited me to take a picture of his naked buns. So I […]

  • Amanda

    Dave X!

    He is one of my favourite Shepherds drop ins. He is with Dennis often and when I first met Dave (I only learned his name as Dave the other day, Dennis accidentally called him by it) I asked his name and he replied “What’s my name? Puddin’ Tain. Ask me again and I’ll tell you the same.”

    He is a wonderful person.