Friday, August 14, 2009

Quintessentially Mike

August 14, 2009
Blogging a little late tonight, sorry about that. It was raining all day so I stayed in making more mini dream catchers; which I will take to the park tomorrow, weather permitting. Online sales have been disappointing...I had truly expected more support from friends and followers of Angels of the Road. I'm going to keep trying right up until the phone goes dead. So if blogs stop, and I am absent from Twitter fear not I shall return eventually. Enough on that subject.
Tonight I want to introduce you to one my friends, whom I shall call Mike. Mike is the quintessential homeless guy, he has been on the streets for years and he is good at it. A wiry little man, with a three day growth of beard and shaggy shoulder length hair poking out from under a dirty ball cap. As you approach Mike on the street your pace quickens slightly, you're not frightened just uncomfortable. Quite certain that if you make eye contact he is going to hit you up for some "spare change" or a smoke. You're right, he probably will.
What you don't know is that Mike will share his last half cigarette with a guy who doesn't have one. He introduced himself to me on my first visit to the mission, telling me where to find the next meal. After that he became my self appointed tour guide. If there is a free lunch or give away going on, he made a point of telling me often walking me over so I wouldn't get lost. He never asked me for anything, not even a smoke. Mike knows everyone, he is unassuming, quiet and bit sad. He is nonconfrontational, I have never heard him complain or argue with staff or clients about anything. Mike is very accepting of his situation, I believe his drug of choice is crack. In all the weeks I have known Mike I've never heard him laugh... don't think I've really seen him smile either, until this week. I arrived at the mission for dinner where I saw Mike waiting in the line, he was glowing..;-). He had been contacted by his daughter whom he hadn't seen since the breakup of his marriage. Apparently the girl had been very young at the time and her mother thought it best to tell her that her father was dead. The daughter wants Mike to be a part of her life and she has a baby boy, Mike is suddenly a father and a grandfather. This is the first time I have ever heard Mike even mention wanting to quit the crack. Wanting doesn't make it so... but you can't make anything happen without first wanting it.
Mike is a "street person" the 30% who are chronically homeless due to personal priorities that fall outside those of most of the population. One day Mike may choose to put street life behind but either way it is his choice to make. We need to be more accepting of the presence of street culture and find a way to coexist in our communities. We need to build communities where there is a place for everyone, without judgement or recrimination, live and let live as the saying goes.

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