Last Wednesday was crazy, with more than the usual drama. Most people come to the Day Center to get away from conflict; some come to create it.
New configurations of conflict and fresh threats erupted. Former assaulters and victims buddied up to each other. One woman who sat apart reading a book was about ready to pop her cork by the end of the morning just from contacting the stress.
One of my favorite wild men who just got out of jail for a probation violation showed me baby pictures of his son taken in jail, the mother's wrist handcuffed to the bed. He hasn't seen the kid and probably never will.
Another I hadn't seen this year made the Blotter twice this week and detox at least once. When I left the Day Center, he was outside straddling his bicycle, which still bore the GJPD property tag. I thanked him for being considerate of the taxpayers by enabling the police to reuse the tag next time he goes to jail.
He and I can laugh about these things. Others don't see his humor or appreciate his boisterous intelligence. He must cross someone's boundary ten times a day. The purple smear under his eye came from a beat-down in the park.
Scott and Robin, the couple I wrote about last week, were flush with good news. Scott had landed a 10-dollar-an-hour job as a security guard and caretaker with the storage company where they had spent their last dollars. Robin had just heard from her previous employer that he had been contacted for a reference.
Over the weekend, they had attended a church nearby one of the storage locations and felt welcomed. Scott said he was volunteering at the thrift store run by the church.
I'm keeping it positive, he said.
Darius asked if we had a fax he could use. He has applied at a local construction company that's hiring for the spring, but he's also sending an application to a Seattle company that runs fishing boats in Alaskan waters.
When I handed him a pencil to complete the application, he gave me a look and said, "I'm surprised at you offering me a pencil. A pencil is not professional. Give me a pen."
He's a fit 36, a handsome African American who has worked a variety of trades. Darius really likes it here in Grand Junction, but he's having difficulty getting his feet under him. Right now he's staying in the shelter overflow hosted by a local church during winter months.
I want an apartment, he said, but I need a lump sum to get started. I can't just go to work at McDonald's and make enough. Whenever I do day labor, they garnish half my check. There's not enough take-home to pay the rent.
He owes back child support for children he hasn't seen for 15 years. Until that's paid off, he'll have to camp or stay in a shelter. The Alaskan fishing boats represent his chance to accumulate enough to pay off his arrears.
He admits to making bad decisions in the past. When he was younger he ran up a stack of tickets for failing to register his car. He had insurance and the car payments were current but something about paying the registration fee bugged him. Every time the cops saw him, they wrote another ticket.
Eventually he paid.
It was stupid, I know, he said. Those fees help pay for our roads. I can't explain it now.
On his intake form, he was reluctant to share much information. One line asked for his social security number. Is it so you can get funding? he asked.
That's all it's for.
He filled it in.
I don't have a family contact. I don't even know where my wife is, he said.
It's just so we know who to call in case something happens to you, I said. It can be anyone.
There's an ex-girl friend in San Diego that he's on good terms with, he said. He talks to her a couple times a week. Just funny stuff. This and that. It's probably never going beyond that. He's still in the process of finding himself.
He puts down the name of the San Diego woman. In case we have to call someone. In case there's someone who would want to know.
When I started writing these posts years ago, I was volunteering at a shelter and I wanted to label them separately from the other content. My volunteer work has moved out of the shelter environment and most of what I post concerns homelessness now.
So with this post, I'm retiring "Shelter Report" in the headline but will continue to tag the posts with the "Home & Homeless" category.