Sir, can you spare some change?
No, but I will buy you something to eat if you are hungry.
Three minutes of trying to get her act together, finally entering the Fast Food Place where they were standing six feet from the door.
Semi dirty hair, dirty hands, face, and skin areas, clothing and bags dirty.
“I just got out of an abusive relationship…referring to meth scabs maybe?
My Daughter is with a sitter today. Okay…
It’s my day off from work today…..
I stay in a hotel, it’s forty-two dollars a night.
I’m getting section eight housing in one week ten days…eighty-five dollars a month, I can swing that.”
I place my order, less than $3.00. Their food bill adds up to $9.86!?
She suggested, “Let’s sit here?” Okay.
I sit down, she leaves to fill soda from machine. Minutes click by. I wonder if she forgot what she was doing. Her number is called, called again, called a third time.
She comes back to the table. I say, “You order is ready, they called your number.”
She gets her food, three large drinks and a sausage biscuit and sits down.
“Some Woman told an employee, they can’t believe they let people like me in here. Then she tells Me, ‘I am filthy and I stink’. Why do people think they can talk to me like that, like I’m a piece of trash, and not human?”
I am thinking to myself, well the filthy comment fits, I’m in agreement with the woman about the comments. However, there is no excuse for people talking like that to anyone like that, true or not.
She takes large drink of one large shake, then another, and nods off.
“You okay?” She wakes up, starts spreading jelly on her biscuit and her hands….Nods off again. Drooling this time.
Opens her eyes, repeats section eight housing story. Nods off again. Opens eyes, “I’m so tired.”
I say, “It appears to me, whatever you have doing isn’t working to well for you, have you heard of “shelter name”.
I won’t go there! I won’t go to any shelter. They get into your business, and I don’t want that. I have been waiting two years for cheap housing, and I’m not going to blow it. I have to wait a week, and three days, and I’m in. Nods off again.
I wonder to myself if she has a week and three days left. I think it may be a coin flip.
I suggest (because she was nodding again), “Why don’t you use a different name? It would give you a chance to clean up, eat and get some real sleep.”
“Have you ever been in one of those places? You don’t know what they are like! (hmmm) How can you sit there and tell me what to do? I don’t want CYFD (Child Welfare) in my business. Why does everyone who gives me money or buys me food think they have the right to tell me what to do?
Maybe they care about you and your condition?, I’m thinking, if I were someone else, I may have paid you for other things, if I didn’t care about my health and well being….
“Are you from here, where did you grow up?”
“I was born in the xxx area, and grew up in the xxxxxxx area.” I’m getting housing in one week and three days, $85.00 a month. My own place. A bed for my daughter.” Nods off…
Opens eyes, “Did you hear a thing I said?
I repeat back what she told me, only one iteration though. “Are you sure about not getting some help, you look like you could use some good sleep.”
“I’m so tired….Why do you think you have the right to tell me what to do? I’m sick of people like you telling me what to do! Who do you think you are?” (I am thinking, ‘someone who is concerned about you doesn’t count I suppose’.)
I’ve had about enough at this point. This woman either hasn’t hit rock bottom, or she does not realize she has already crash landed, and they only place left to fall is to die. Frustration overrides my concern. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. In her case, I’m not even sure, if she knows what is going on.
“Do you have some money you could give me? Anything will help.”
“I do not have any money to give you. I spent almost ten dollars on your food. That was a lot of money for me to spend on you.“
“I only need like twenty more dollars to get a hotel room for the night…for my daughter and me. I have almost half of it.”
“I do not have any money to give you.”
She starts falling asleep again.
“I have to go now, I have somewhere to be. I truly hope the next time I see you, you have your apartment, your daughter, and you are doing well. I hope I do not see you as you are now. Good Luck, and my best for you.”
No response, or perhaps that was the response. As I drive, the conversation slowly fades away, forgotten.
Today, I am getting ready to meet someone, when crashing into my thoughts is the woman I left at the table yesterday. Almost overwhelming thoughts of her. It’s not apparent to me why she has taken over my thoughts, and what these thoughts mean. Twelve hours later, and they still haunt me, coming in lingering waves spacing farther apart, and smaller with each arrival.
Perhaps it is because she isn’t the run of the mill homeless person I am used to seeing. Most homeless people are obviously homeless, but getting along somehow, semi clean and looking like they eat enough.
This woman was skinny as a rail, no fat on her. Dirty, and nothing worth anything on her person, worn out cloths and flip flops. She had a half pack of cigarettes, and a container of bright pink lipstick she wore above and below each lip. She like her clothes looked worn out. The one bag she had her possessions stuffed into was in worse condition.
I say more than a few short prayers today for this woman. If anyone ever needed at least praying for it is her. I know she is beyond anything I can do for her. I doubt she even remembers yesterday, the meal and halting angry conversation.