2013 – One Size Does Not Fit All

macsherlock

1: I was Just Standing There.

“Could you back away? You are too big” she said alarmed.

I was just standing there like a normal person.

“Um, Oh sure. I’m sorry. No problem,” I said, easing back a yard and a foot. She relaxed and the conversation kept on. I wondered how often people felt that way but never said anything.

People here will speak directly.

2:”One Size Does Not Fit All.”

“I need you to open the Bike cage again.”

“Again?” I said a little exasperated. “I have opened it twice for you guys and it closed an hour ago. I mean what is the policy around here (I wondered aloud as BC my role model was in earshot) for this?”

X kinda came unglued on me “It doesn’t really matter. You are not dealing with a wife who has cancer and who forgets things, and now I have to go to work and I need a jacket because it is getting cold and sure, probably I should have remembered to get it but I am tired and its been a long day and it ain’t over yet!” he yelled.

And as he was yelling at me like I was “The Man” and didn’t care I realized that I had about three seconds to decide what to do and that this was why I was here to make these kind of decisions in a split second. Then he finished: “You just can’t treat everyone the same. There are different circumstances for different people!”

“Let’s go open the cage,” I said firmly and non-plussed.

As we walked alongside each other I said “You know it is going to take me some time to get to know everyone’s story,” I said. “But you are right about not treating everyone the same…which, of course is what institutions always say but is nonsense. No one is the same, and no one’s situation is the same.”

“One size does not fit all, ” he said.

“You got that right.”

3: Size Matters.

It’s about 9:15 and BC* and I are walking the perimeter with flashlights, then off down mostly dark Coral Street. I’ve been on the job two days but I’ve made an impression. I group of five guys approaches in the dark and no one can see faces but one yells out quick “Hey Mac!”

BC is a big man himself at 6’4″ and a good 300 pounds. He is also of Scottish ancestry. Our first day on the job together he liked to say (with a grin) “Hey, you really wanna mess with over 12 feet and 600 pounds of pure Scottish mean-ness?”

Anyway, I wasn’t hired for my brains, or my sense of humor (grins).

_________________

All names are changed here. BC looks like a cross between Bill Clinton and Dennis Farina from Law and Order. He’s big,  warm and takes really good care of people. I am happy to follow his example. I’ll do some things differently of course, but most things the same.

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Sans Adobe 2013

homelessfamilyshelter-1

[Editor’s note: I stopped posts when I ceased being homeless in December of 2011, coming up on 19 months ago.  I needed to catch my breath from literally 12 years of being in survival mode that began with my being laid off my job at Prima Publishing in Roseville. This last week signaled my first return to a job I was, and am, really called to: Campus Supervisor at Santa Cruz’s Homeless Services Center. If I can take those wild 8-hour shifts a day, I can deal with Sans Adobe again.]

In parenting they say you can give your kids what you never got and somehow you get some of it back. This is true. Well, yesterday I got some of my “stuff back” when a couple of guys at the shelter who had left their belongings out way too long after breakfast came back in the afternoon and I helped them retrieve them.

In Portland, and again in San Rafael, they had strict rules about holding your stuff. They would throw it out and it was gone. Sometimes you might get caught in another city (as the Homeless do) overnight and, after amassing valuables to keep you going over a year’s period – BANG – it would all be gone, thrown out. No sooner thrown out than torn apart and dragged off by others like fresh meat to wolverines. Too big and bulky to take with you everywhere,  and one call and a friend can stow it…but no.

Twice I lost everything I had painstakingly procured.

So the first gentleman approached me and SURE, there is the natural question “why did you just leave it there after breakfast and walk off till the middle of the afternoon?” As we walked over towards the garbage  area and I fumbled with the massive bulge of 40 keys, I thought “does it really matter?” I mean the fact is the guy needs his stuff and if it had been left out all this time someone would have stolen it by now.

The lock was big and I had to smash my considerable body mass into the gate to make the chain breath enough to open. The big gate swung open and he found his stuff right away on top of a pile.

He was very happy. He didn’t have  bed in the shelter last night and was gonna be camping up the hill. He had some major bedding and clothes in there. “You have NO idea how much this means to me” he said shaking my hand.

I smiled, “Um…actually I really do. Not a problem.”

Later, after I got  his friend his stuff I felt a lot lighter and really happy.

It was like undoing something wrong.