But the addictive clutches of crystal meth altered Alexander Haits's seemingly conventional life into one punctuated by periodic homelessness and street hustling, playing cat and mouse with the cops and a bizarre violent outburst that could have blinded a security guard.
Haits, 28, pleaded guilty Thursday to a sweeping list of charges stemming from a nearly six-year-long spate of criminal activity linked to his dependence on the ravaging street drug.
His crimes included robbery with a weapon and trafficking in methamphetamine.
Haits was arrested and locked up Jan. 4, two days after an alarming incident at a Zellers store, where he tossed corrosive drain cleaner into the face of a loss prevention officer, and dangerously swung a rusty machete at a store manager.
Haits was spotted dancing and acting oddly in the store's aisles, telling one employee he was high, court was told.
He managed to get into a pilfered car with some stolen merchandise, but reacted violently when guards tried to arrest him.
The guard needed laser surgery to correct his vision, Crown attorney Mitchell Lavitt said, adding the incident was an example of Haits going "off the deep end."
"It's not every drug addict who commits these types of offences or hurts people," Judge Jean McBride said.
At the time, Haits was wanted on several warrants and out on bail stemming from a mischief charge in Vancouver, where he lived for a time, homeless and hustling for drugs, defence lawyer Rod Brecht told court.
Meth consumed his life, Brecht said.
In 2007, Haits freely admitted to cops that drugs were cutting into his ability to function.
He had just been nabbed with a pocketful of meth, along with a "constantly" ringing phone that contained messages asking him for "jib" -- a common street name for methamphetamine.
"I can't keep a job, this s--t f---s me up," he told arresting officers, who suggested he needed help to deal with his drug issues.
He refused to say where the drugs came from.
Haits admitted Thursday his conduct was "terrible" and promised to use his time in prison to better himself.
McBride sentenced Haits to serve five more years.