August 2, 2009
It has been like old home week around here, I have run into 7 former clients from the D.I. over the past couple of days. Many of these people know the purpose of my journey... though a couple have expressed surprise that I have followed through on my word. One man said when he saw me in line waiting for dinner last week it made him smile. He was happy to know I was out here and happy to know I was safe. The elements are not an issue this time of year and I only stay in towns with shelters because part of my purpose is to assess the available services. As my daughter Margaret and I have often discussed there is a fine line between sheltering and enabling...I hope to gain some kind of insight into remedying that situation. It is a sad statement when people are surprised by the fact that someone would follow through on a commitment. Yes, this is a big commitment but I am convinced that what can be gained by the experience will change the popular view of Homelessness and Street Culture. I'm not afraid of the street violence, because (just like in the civilian world) very little of it is random... most altercations involve motive and people who have connections either personal or business.
I did however have a scary experience yesterday though, which I will share with you. I was standing in line (we do a lot of that) waiting for dinner. I felt something touch my shoulder...brushed my shoulder ...then felt something on my forearm. It was a black bug which I promptly killed, sorry I'm not as zen as my friend Hank LOL. Glancing at the man behind me in line I could see several open sores on his hands...guessing scabies (body lice). Fortunately a young gentleman I frequently lunch with came in and I joined him further back in the line...Thus extricating myself without having to scream, "ewuuuu..scabies!!! GET AWAY FROM ME ...yuk.
Sadly such parasites are common in shelters, we have head lice and bed bugs where I stay now. For the people with addictions they could go days before realizing they have been infested and sores can become infected and even develop into MRSA. Sometimes these situations require repeated treatments, which often get neglected by someone whose focus is on the next drink or hit. Providing health care to someone in this environment has its own challenges.
I have always openly and willingly hugged clients at the D.I. and I suspect I would do the same here. There isn't anything that can't be treated with Lindane or bleach LOL. And what a hug gives is way more lasting then anything I might catch.