First day out 2008- Got any size 11 shoes?

from December 14, 2008..moved from Blogger to this site for continuity and good archiving.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I woke and had a slow morning but evidently made it out with the intention of cruising around to find homeless people around the city. I have a jeep full of clothes and blankets that need to warm some people. I cruised all the highway spots I went to last year and found all but one empty. And the one that was occupied had a ton of stuff there but no person. I saw another spot but for the life of me could not figure out how to get to it…so after passing it 4 times I admitted defeat and gave myself shit for not having a map of the twisted highways downtown.

But like Wow…I was surprised…happy too right? Yea But suspicious as well as the new mayoral administration had been better quick in the fall to start dismantling tent cities in the parks. And I feared this may be the case with some of the Highway man as well.

So I am wondering where people are and if I am just not looking hard enough but trust me I have been on many side streets and cruising the hood and just stumped. Was it because the weather was still not too cold but that made no sense.

After that I cruised Mexitown a bit and then Eastern Market still no luck. Then I cruised to where I know for sure there is a tent city as of three days before. I finally locate it on a tip from a friend (thank you). There, which I am not telling where, I find a shack and not too far away a tent. I go toward the tent first and try to figure out if anyone is there…I get no answer.

So I decided to go over to the shack which is about a half block away. No one is acknowledging me there either. Fine I think and I leave a bag of canned food, dinners in a bag from Trader Joes, a can opener and an orange. I then go back over to the tent and leave a bag with the same food items in it except instead of an orange they got an apple.

And as I am getting into my jeep I see someone walking down the street toward the shack so I wait and I see him go in so I go back and I see him outside now. And I say hello!! He says hello back! I told him I brought him some food and point to the spot where I left it and he thanks me. I asked if he needed any blankets. And we look at each other, confused.

It was right about this moment we both realized that we did not speak the same language. He speaks Spanish and I well..don’t. I tell him in Spanish that I do not speak Spanish and he asks if I do…I laugh and say No!! he lucky for me can speak broken English. So we communicate enough for him to tell me he would very much like a blanket, which I give to him out of the back of the jeep. i do ask him his name but for the life of me i can not understand him or pronounce what he said to me..i feel bad. *

And I notice his shoes are tattered but we cant seem to get the shoe thing understood between us so I lightly step on his toes and he got it and I use my hands to ask what size..and he tells me something I can not get and he can tell by my face I am confused yet he is patient with me..and motions in the air the number eleven. I rummage through the back as I am not even sure of what I have but I find no mens shoes.

He asks if I have clothes, that I do!! so I get him some and tell him I will be back on Wednesday to see if anyone else is around and hopefully I will have a pair of size eleven shoes! Now just imagine how I tried to get that across to him without speaking his language…lucky for me he and even toyed with me a bit to joke around! That made me happy!

I asked if he knew of any other places around where people were staying, he gave me some tips though they didn’t pan out..but I will try again!

I asked how long he had been there and he told me about 5 years, I was stunned to be quite honest. He then went on to tell me what he was building and how he was to get a pump and water and electricity. I listened and understood him completely then, amazing what I get when I just shut up!

I thank him for his time and told him I would be back, he thanked me too.

I drove around a bit more with no luck and decided to go home..and I hoped I would be able to get a pair of shoes for him from the benefit the next day.

do you?? Got any size 11 shoes? or boots…let me know !!

~d

*—on a side note the day before i signed up to teach English to Spanish speaking women as a motivator to get my arse to learn Spanish..and meeting this man totally confirmed that i just have to..no more excuse—-

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