News Years Day 2009 (part 2)
After getting gas I decided to take 19 on my regular route. As we were driving I was thinking to myself how odd it was that the two men we just saw we both obviously mentally ill when I have only really had one other experience “tell me ‘say it isn’t so'”) and just as I was wondering how 19 might be reacting to this and if she really wanted to go any farther she asked me if I see a lot of mental illness! Good mind reader! We talked about that topic for awhile as I drove to the first place.
I wanted to go see if Manual was home. He was not but I showed her where he lives and we left some food for him. I also drove by the tent and the bike was still there and has fallen down and the food I left has not been moved. Part of me wants to look in the tent, and a bigger part of me is scared I have to admit but shouldn’t someone do this? How I feel if it was a loved one of my own. I just don’t know if I have what it takes but I don’t want to call the authorities either as it may bring negative attention to Manual and his living arrangements. Uh. I will try to see if I have what it takes to work up courage to do this.
After that we head down to near the service drives and I see a man in a wheel chair so we stop to inquire if he is hungry. I recognize him. its Bryan and he remembers me too. I knelt down next to him to ask him how he was and I could tell something was wrong, the look on his face made me want to cry. He told me he was just not doing good and was in a bad place. I asked him if he had eaten and he told me he was hungry. I asked 19 to get him some food and he and I chatted for a bit. 19 came back and I started to put he food in the bags behind his chair and she started to talk to him. I asked him if there was anything he needed, he told me he likes canned fruit! Well hell I never thought of that, I told him and he told me fruit would be nice! Here I was thinking protein and hearty, hell I have the biggest sweet tooth on the planet why the hell would I not think about sweets. I told him I had some chocolate covered cherries and asked him he wanted them, he said yes! I went to get them. They were in the big bag 19 had brought that her father had given her for donations! Yea dad!
About this time another man walked up and I said hello, I recognized him and asked him if we had met on Christmas Eve, he said we did. I told him my name and he told me his, Conan. I asked him if was hungry or needed any more clothes. He told me was hungry so we went to the jeep which was still open and I got him some canned food. I asked him if there were specific things that were needed on the streets. He told me drinks are hard to come by! Ding..again! I asked if pop was something he would want and he told me No! I asked what then, juice? Water? He told me that is exactly the things he needs. He has a condition where he needs to drink liquids and pop just dehydrates him! I told him I would start asking people for those items and would try to carry them and thanked him for the advice.
I asked him if he needed anything and he told me a sweater so I got him one of 19’s bag and then I asked him if he could use a back pack and he really liked the idea and said that would be really helpful for homeless guys! I helped him adjust it and put it on and told him about the contents; (read the blog from January 5.2009 “Burner Back Packs” for more about this!! Thanks again R&R)
I asked him if he was staying on the streets or in shelters he told me on the streets and I asked if there was a system of knowing what resources were out there. He started to tell me about the rounds he does from each facility he knows of during the week. I so wish I had a pen and paper on me cuz he knew the rounds. I asked if he learned from just word of mouth and the said yes. Imagine if it were possible to have a list of places with addresses, services and number (there are still some pay phones on the streets of Detroit, though not many) laminated with this info on one side and bus routes on the other…totally do able!!
He told me about how people look after each other on the streets, and if anyone messes with others they are not welcomed in certain areas. I had wondered about this especially when on Christmas Eve I had about a dozen men around the jeep and there were no issues, mind you not everyone was mingling and singing carols but..
He was telling about how you can’t leave anything anywhere or a homeless man will find it. He said nothing can be hidden even if you were to bury it. He told me he has some street cred and no one messes with him. He said he can leave his bike (bingo) anywhere on the streets and no one will be take it.
I asked where he was staying, if it was under the highways or elsewhere cuz I don’t see many men in those places anymore. He told me not many stay there cuz they are pushed out, but some still do. He told me where he stays and I was totally baffled and asked him if others did too and he said yea a group of them do. I asked him for directions and from where we were standing it was rather confusing.
Now mind you I don’t normally do what I am about to tell you but I asked him if he would show me, if he would take me there. He said yes, I told him to get the back seat of the jeep and wait for me, he did. I went back to 19 and Bryan and gave him the chocolate covered cherries and told her what I was about to do and that I was not rushing her as the two of them were in a deep conversation.
I got in the jeep and turned it on to get us warm as we waited for 19. We started to talk and again I so wish I had paper and pen. (I do now!!) we talked about a lot of things as 19 was gone awhile. And we talked about his prison time on and off for like 24 years, he listed the family that he lost while in prison and since and that he is just alone. He told me he tried to commit suicide recently due to how hard it is on streets and mind you my bullshit detector did not go up once, I totally 100% believed this man. He told me if he had a gun or a knife he would do it again right then. I didn’t do anything but listen to him, who am I to tell him. (that’s sound heartless but that is another blog I am working on about this whole experience) He told me when he was in recovering they diagnosed him with schizophrenia.
to be continued in part 3