Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

Back out on the streets downtown after work. I went back to Greek Town by like 4:30pm because I told the gentlemen I had met on Christmas Eve I would be back.

Much to my surprise the Motor City Bowl at Ford Field so Greek Town was packed…my last blog was incorrect as I wrote it was on 12/24/08 but the crowds were just holiday folks out gambling and eating. My mistake, sorry!

I pulled over in the same place as I had two days before and hung out for about 10 minutes or so but no one who looked familiar or homeless passed by. I decided at this time to cruise around Greek Town and hit the entrance ramps.

At the opposite end of Monroe I saw a man in a wheel chair by St. Mary’s one of these days I will go there for a service to see the inside as I hear it is stunning.

I see the man nearing the corner as I hop of the jeep and ask him if he is hungry, he is. I grab a bag and give him some pull top cans and cereal bars. I notice he does not have a blanket on him like most the men in wheel chairs do so I ask him if he would like one. I have a real nice wool one, someone gave me two identical ones that were amazing! (thank you!). I refold the blanket and wrap it around his lap and help him tuck it in.

I ask him his name he tells me its Billy, I tell him mine. We say our goodbyes and I start to walk away and I turn back to ask him if he needs me to wrap it around the back of his chair as I see him with his lap full and I remembered Bryan from two days earlier instructing me on how to secure his bag to his chair. Billy tells me no, that is going to eat right now. I ask him if he has a spoon, he tells me no but that he will manage. I apologize to him for not having one and say good bye again.

As I get back into the jeep I spot my lunch bag and lo and behold I have a spoon so I run it back out to Billy who is now in front of the church getting ready to eat. I hand him the spoon, he thanks me.

I leave Greek Town and drive past the entrance ramps and places in the area I often see homeless men but no one is around, it’s getting dark by this time so I head down directly to Manual’s shack to give him some food.

I enter his area from a direction I don’t normally do and he is not there but I can see there are somewhat fresh tracks in the snow. I leave some food in the same place I always do and head out. As I am leaving I look back at the path I just walked from and notice I just walked through what must be his path to enter the area and then notice it is flanked by two evergreen shrubs maybe 8 or 9 feet tall and that there are actually steps under the snow and it looks like it would have been the way to enter someone’s front yard a long long time ago. And now it’s Manuals. I paused for a long moment and took in the area from this new angle and tried to imagine what it would have looked like fifty years ago. Where there houses over in this area or was commercial? Could it have been mixed? Huh.

I get in the jeep and head north and I spot the familiar shape that is Manual about two blocks away. I drive up to him and greet him. We exchanged our hellos and I tried to explain to him that I left him food. I spied his shoes and pointed; he looked down and pointed too. I asked if they were helpful, he told me yes! I was so glad to hear that!

I asked if he needed anything else like more clothes or another blanket. He told me that the blanket helps very much that I gave him but that he does not need another one.

I am amazed or surprised or humbled or I just don’t know about how the men I have encountered do not take more than what they need. Granted I cant imagine hauling items around if I were homeless but I also cant imagine trying to stay warm in the dead of winter, (amen for this quick thaw and 56 degree weekend we had). Manual even has a place to stay and he does not ask for more, nor does he expect it.

Lessons to learn from for sure.

I leave him and head back to the highway just in case someone is at the entrance ramp and there is. I pull and ask him if he is hungry, he is. I stop the jeep, open the back and get to work.

I must say I am pleased that not one driver has given me a hard time when I have on numerous occasions stopped traffic to jump out and talk to and help these men! Thanks John-Q public!

I grab a bag and give him some canned food, I ask if he has a can opener as that will often determine what I give the men. He does, Yes! And I ask him if he needs any clothes or a blanket. He asks me for a sweater which I pick him out one and I let him choose between the two blankets I have left. I tell him I have a really big one or a small one.
He is traveling on a bike and decides on the small one and says it will help keep him warmer at the shelter even though they provide blankets.

I ask him his name, its Nate, I tell him mine. He tells me he is getting over being sick and in the hospital and now can’t find a job. I tell him I understand that many people are in similar situations just like him. We say our good byes and I head home feeling grateful for everything I have.

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