Meandering to work on Friday I decided not to go into Eastern Market. Glad I did not because as soon as I passed McDonalds, I saw a figure in his wheelchair in the median and I hoped it was a Michael. Michael is one of my favorites,. Yea, I have my favorites what of it.I met Michael about three years ago on dark winter night on the edge of the market. I have probably already told this story in another blog, but it was a dark and snowy night..no no not that story! But really it was…..and here Michael was in the middle of the street in his wheelchair, he is legless, not one of those folks you know damn well dont need that chair but use to pull at peoples heartstrings..or wallets.Seeing him I got out of my car and gave him a blanket and wrapped him up and gave him socks figuring he could use them on his hands as I had no gloves. this was back when we were much less organized I was just bugging everyone I know for stuff. Of course, I still do that but its more systematic now.
I pushed him about a block and asked him where he was going, he was just gonna keep moving. I felt bad leaving him there in the road. The sidewalk was completely covered and therefor impossible for him to traverse.
He thanked me and headed on his way. (I ran back to my car and while writing this I just recalled Michael is not the first man in a wheelchair i have pushed in a snow storm…flashback to like 2003 or 2004..January..big storm. I’m living in the corridor, yes i still call it that, and it was definately still that., Midtown had not caught on yet. They changed the neighborhood name to make it more pallatable to the suburbanites as Cass Cooridor meant drugs and prostitutes.. ie some tough characters had lived in this area for about 30 -40yrs.) Anyway, I digress. so I am cruising slowly down a street where the news radio is telling you not to go out if you dont have to, I have no clue why I am out, but I see this dude in a wheelchair getting nowhere fast. So I stop and get out and say hi and just start to push him. He was a bit surprised and I just kept pushing. (Amen, he was not a big man!) He blessed me we laughed I told him he needed to get out of this or he would freeze. Literally, during those years, every winter, you would hear of men freezing on the streets of Detroit. Usually from sitting on the steam vents in the middle of the road. Now those are often covered with huge metal funnels to take the stream off the road. Drivers can not see through the steam and that is how men were getting killed. Sad reality.
As with Michael, I just pushed this man about 2 or 3 blocks to no where just farther along the path. Hope it helped both of them in some small way.
Back to now, I am not sure why but I really enjoy running into Michael but I do and I actually look forward to seeing him. He has light brown crystal eyes, big think wide dreads and he has a gentle mans simple melodic voice. I love to hear him say “Hi!”.
I asked him how he was and he smiled and said fine. I asked how his christmas was and he told me nice. I gave him a backpack and strapped it to the back of his wheelchair and I gave him two gift cards. Hey, whatever, I told you he was a favorite, and I know he likes McDonalds fish sandwiches as I have stopped at the Mickey D’s literally right behind him before and grabbed him a meal. I put the cards in his gummy bear shaped pail he uses to ask for money.
I asked him if I could take him picture. I told him I was out shooting churches, and said he didn’t mind, I ran got my camera and he smiled for me and I thanked him, wished him well and then we said our goodbyes.
Richard was right up the street from him on the other side of the highway, and a man in a red truck was preaching to him how loved and special he was, and about God. I gave the man a pack and a gift card and the preacher man started in more so about how this was proof. I smiled at him and then I backed off and got back in my car right quick.
The reason I did not go over to Eastern Market was because I decided to go grab lunch at Avalon instead figuring it would be quicker. Outside the bakery is a young girl begging. I ask her how she is. She remembers me from the camera project and tells me she never saw me again to give it to me. I asked if she still had and she said yea. I asked her to take it to Miss Bee at the bakery, she knows Miss Bee she tells me, and I tell her she will get it to me. We shall see.
I tell her I have a gift card in my car is she wants one and ask if she wants some juice, she does.
I go in and talk to Glen and he told me her name is Crystal. He told me she be hustling, has a new story all the time. She is going to school, she is homeless, she is pregnant .etc. and they are all lies. She is just hustling. Her mama lives around the corner by Miss Bee. Her daddy who doesn’t live with them was works at DMC. She just don’t wanna work and instead hustles.
Right then a cop came and was talking about moving her along and he did and then came back in and the two of them with another man were talking about how she is taking from real homeless. I see his point but its a fine line. Miss Bee added that she isn’t staying with her mama no more either.
I go out and I gave her the juice and told her the cop will come back, so she needs to move on. She says she knows and asks if she can still have a gift card. I tell her yes and ask her what she is doing hustling and how long it will last. She doens’t know. She follows me to my car and I give her a gift card. She thanks me.
On the service drive I ran into, I think his name is, Leon. I gave him a gift card, he already had a backpack. He let me take his picture. I have been seeing him on the streets for some time, he is getting used to seeing me I think. I totally understand yet it took me some time that many homeless do not remember you. I can not imagine how many faces they see and ask for help. Faces have to blend after a short time, I would imagine.
At the next on the service drive I found Frog, Tatttos brother who I could not find on Christmas. I asked him if his brother told him I might come looking for him he told me yes. He smiled his teeth were all rotted. I gave him a bag and a gift card asked him how old he was, he told me he is 32. I asked him if we was using, he told me yea but wanted to stop.. i asked if they had a place to stay, je told me an abandoned house. I wished him luck , he left me take his picture too. He didn’t smile. Right after that I met bob, the older white guy and gave him a pack and gift card. I was out of gift cards then and right near the MGM so I was close to work and decided it was time to go in.
Interesting morning that started with me taking pictures of churches to helping a handful of homeless leaving me thinking about those houses of worship and what they might have meant to these people in the past and what they mean to them now.