Sans Abobe: Day One…

St. Vincent de Paul ministry on B Street in San Rafael.

…or day seven depending on how you look at it.

I met this a.m.with two pastors, one a man who has been a close friend here in Marin for years; the other a street pastor.

The street pastor, a younger man with tats and and a large Celtic cross, had a lot of questions. His most curious one was “you are obviously a highly intelligent, self-aware man, yet you seem unconcerned by being homeless and utterly broke? I am not sure I have met anyone like you.”

It clearly worried him. He asked if I thought “God was punishing me”?


It is called “reaping what you sow.”

Besides, how many “homeless” folk are walking around with high-tech arsenal in their Wenger backpack? I could run IKEA’s website from right here in Starbucks via wifi.

Which brings me to point two: I do have some unusual support. I may not have any identification (I don’t…but this is not always a bad thing), but my other pastor friend got me a 31 day bus pass. I can get anywhere in Marin anytime. And he got me a Starbucks card…which means free wifi.

But there are downsides too. Dating is out of the question (I KEED…I have no business dating. Meeting for coffee? Sure.); I had to give up half my stuff to meet the ‘locker-size” quota at the Mill Street Shelter; and one of my toes has a very large blister that is really killing me as I hobble around town.

Three is the uncertainty that comes in three days time if I do not find work. For now I have a guaranteed slot and can work the system as it was meant to be worked. I got a lot accomplished today despite the hobbling, and I learned a lot.

But what of the social pariah-ship of being homeless (sans adobe…not a very clever play on all the cities starting with “San”)? Well actually no one can really tell so long as you are well-groomed. In fact, today I saw a couple he Shelter walking down the street. You could not have told they had not just gotten out of a nice BMW and had a 3,000 sq ft home in Mill Valley.

I did beg today…well, ask.

It was outside a Walgreen’s and I approached a man about my age just as I might have been approached in that same lot a year ago.

“I have an unusual request,” I said. “I am homeless even if I do not look like it. Would you mind buying me a small selenium-based bottle of dandruff shampoo?”

He looked at me quizzically. “I don’t want or need money,” I said. “I just have really dry scalp and it is driving me a little crazy” I said calmly.

“Sure, no problem.”

When he came out with the shampoo I thank him, told him it would help.

I think, in an odd way, I kind of made his day.

Well, the foot is really throbbing. The amazing folk at Ritter House will “fix” me tomorrow. Yesterday Joseph there got me an address there a P.O. Box and physical address; gave me advice on how anther charity (St. Vincent) will pay for my ID replacement if I go there before lunchtime today, and gave me information on General Assistance in Marin and how to get their for free.

Last word: community. In Goodwill, looking with Rod for a long sleeve shirt in “mutant size” we ran into Bill, also from the Shelter. Hearty introductions and some nice banter. Later I saw one of my many dorm-mates downtown and we high-fived as we passed. At lunch (above) I sat with a 92 year old man who looked like he had just walked off the set of Mayberry RFD. People trade information, advice, names of people who really help and others to avoid.

This does not happen in most any other context in Marin where people “cocoon”. More tomorrow…


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