Economists aren't the only ones who reflexively say, then, on the other hand...
You can't work with the homeless if you have a black and white view of the world. You can't do it if it bothers you when your predictions don't come true. If you rely only on numbers to get you to truth or rely only on your gut — forget it. Neither one will by itself will give you any reassurance.
Remember Paco, the guy who was taking the bus to Ohio to turn over his kidney for his sister? He showed up at the Day Center today, fresh off five days in jail.
Before he could leave town last week, some cops called him over.
Come over here.
What did I do?
Nothing. We just want to know who you are. Got some ID?
Turns out there's a warrant for Paco in Durango. He knows about it, because once a month he gets hauled into jail for it. Nothing happens once he's arrested, and after five days he gets released.
Maybe that's true. We'll see if he's around next week.
Someone asked about Victor today.
He'd suffered some frostbite this winter. Whatever treatment he got wasn't enough. Homeless people tend to delay medical care, either because they're used to fending for themselves or because they can't afford treatment. Someone remembered him limping around with gangrene on one of his feet, and after some more investigation, the consensus was the foot was amputated.
But he hasn't been into the Day Center or the shelter. No remembered seeing him for awhile. We made calls to the local hospitals, but with HIPPA confidentiality restrictions, we got nowhere.
A man who used to customize Harleys and has lately walked everywhere may be down to one foot. But nobody seems to know where he is now.
I biked down to Municipal Court yesterday to check up on a dog case I've been following. Two of our guests were cited for having dangerous dogs, and an earlier case did not go well. The dogs were being held by animal control, and they weren't getting them back. Now it was just a matter of how much they'd be fined.
Neither of them showed up and warrants were issued. I biked back uphill against a mean head wind.
A wave of campers came in late and the woman in the group signed everyone up for showers. They weren't actually organized enough to do it, but one guy who kept losing his cap tottered in. He'd burned both legs in a campfire and his wounds had scabbed over. We had some salve for him, but there was no one on duty in the clinic today.
I hope we don't have another Victor on our hands. At least he's got something resembling a support system — a woman and three other alkies who won't be much help in a pinch.
My comrades with the bad dogs have recently been booted off the peninsula where they've been living, and they're transporting their possessions to other points down river. The man who didn't show for court had a warrant out for a drug charge, and he was afraid to appear at the court house for the misdemeanor before he'd gotten his scattered affairs in order.
He learned his lesson with dogs, he said. They loved him but were vicious toward others. He thanked me for my concern and said he planned to turn himself in on the warrants as soon as he had his home situation settled.
We'll see. On the other hand...