The wind was blowing hard out of the south today with gusts between 45 and 60 mph. Not an issue heading into town, but I knew I'd have a long, slow, uphill slog at the end of my shift at the Day Center.
This was the morning the Tea Party Express Rally hit town. I'm sure the Don't Tread on Me flags were whipping it. (A photo from there shows about 200 people on the scene.)
A kid showed up at the Day Center carrying a cardboard and marker sign. He looked like a young Benjamin Bratt a bit down on his luck.
The sign said: "Can't find a job." I figured it was his panhandling line until I read beneath the fold, where it said: "Thanks Obama."
He wasn't a client; he was looking for the park where the Tea Party rally was going to be held. I gave him directions.
Not long after that one of our guests — a man in his 60s perhaps; it's hard to tell — started talking to me about the Bushes and how they never cared for the working man, how the Bush family made big money from oil and the Iraq war. He kept prefacing his remarks with "I shouldn't be saying this" and he occasionally jabbed my shoulder for emphasis as he called for bringing back the military draft. I think every president should have the opportunity of being poked by the stump of an arm cut off at the elbow as the questioner asks him what he ever did to stand up for the average worker.
Another veteran — call him Fred — was slumped against the wall. His camp was burned last night and he lost everything but the clothes he was wearing, including his identification, his tent and his sleeping bag. It wasn't clear whether the camp had been deliberately torched. (That happens around here.)
A woman he'd been hanging around with had cleared out and there was some bad blood. One of the other guests said, she's made a lot of enemies, and Fred, who is relatively new in town, was the latest. He was trying to figure out how he could get his new identity papers and track down his VA disability check that had been sent to his old address in Salt Lake City.
It was all complicated before, and now he was saying: "I'm fucked. I'm absolutely fucked."
Another couple, though, got word today they've been approved for one of the housing units owned by Catholic Outreach. They'd been working hard to get their lives together and now it had paid off. For them, at least, it was a happy day.
I rode back up the hill into the wind. It was going to take awhile, but I knew I was going to make it.