Overnight shift at the shelter. I’m comin’ here straight from Twitter where I made a statement about how prohibiting abortion wouldn’t work because prohibiting things never works, and how the way to decrease the number of abortions is through education, access to birth control and economic justice. I coulda added “dismantling the patriarchy”, but I only had but so many characters. Within a minute, I got 40 likes and 3 twits who wanted to argue, so I repeated my position and now I’m here. I’ll go back later to find out what the self-proclaimed ‘Texas Nationalist” has to say.
That’s my position. I’m sticking with it. But the thing I was actually planning on writing about was this –
The overnight shift has two staff, one awake and one asleep. The sleeper is there for back-up. In the ten months I’ve been at the shelter, I’ve been woken up twice by the awake person. The first was last spring when the cops came by and dropped off a guy in a wheelchair. The guy was drunk, had shit himself, and couldn’t get out of his chair. The awake person woke me up to figure out what to do. We’re not trained to do direct care. We’re not supposed to admit people who can’t walk or are otherwise severely handicapped. Of course, the cops aren’t supposed to just drop off a wheelchair drunk on our doorstep, either.
We called up the chain, woke up our boss and were told to call the cops to take the guy back. The cops came and said he wasn’t breaking any laws so they couldn’t take him. We literally had to push him out the door so he was drunk in public to get the cops to take him.
The second time I got woke up was last night. The awaker came in and said the cops had dropped off a guy in a wheelchair. We were at our maximum capacity, and not supposed to take him, and she wanted me to help her figure out what to do. I knew it was the same guy, but I also knew it was 18*F outside, so I said “Let him in. We’ll deal with it in the morning.” She couldn’t give him a bed, but at least he was inside.
In the morning, we had to call the cops for something else. When that hassle was over, I talked to one of the cops and asked him to pass the word around that we couldn’t take wheelchair drunk. He said nobody would take wheelchair drunk. Apparently, we’re one of few places in town that hasn’t got a “no trespass” order on the guy because he’s an obnoxious drunk. The hospital has a “no trespass” on him. The cops contacted his family at one point and they don’t want him either.
During the day, I got an email from the boss, who reads our daily notes daily, instructing us to not let the wheelchair dunk in again. I was out doing some errands during the day and I saw him in the parking lot of a convenience store downtown. When I came in to work, the evening shift staff told me the cops tried to drop him off again. It’s 19*F outside.
So, the old bastard might be in jail or he might be out on the street. This is the richest fucking country on God’s green earth and we literally have people dying on the street. And yeah, he did it to himself, just like everyone of these crazy junkie/winos that stay in the shelter every night. But ain’t none of the many, many Biblical injunctions to care for the poor include a caveat about the poor being blameless or deserving or any shit like that.
I don’t see where I can do much or that particular wheelchair drunk. He’ll most likely die of exposure sooner than later. We got a buncha guys here at the shelter that are on their way to that end, alcoholics in their 50s or 60s who’ve burned all their family bridges and got no friends but each other. It’s truly fuckin’ tragic, but there it is. We live in a country that has decided that some people have billions of dollars while others die of exposure, sitting in their shitty wheelchairs. Some people can literally storm the Capitol building, assault police officers, steal shit and not get arrested. Other people get murdered by cops for shoplifting or being black in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some people are afraid of being raped. Other people commit rape knowing their victims’ rape kits, if they’re ever actually used, will sit on shelves for years without ever being processed. Rapists got nothing to worry about in America. Shit, we got one on he Supreme Court.
And I love my job. Hand to God, tragedies and all, I love this job. I never had a job where I felt so surely I was doing His will and making some kinda positive difference in the world. And I’m good at it. Shit, I grew up and lived my young life in so much fuggin’ chaos, this place seems like home. (Right now, a schizophrenic is in the women’s rooms hollerin’ some incoherant shit at imaginary elves or whatever, like family.) What we do here matters. I’m truly grateful that God put me here.
Economic justice, education, dismantling the patriarchy. That’s the way to fix homelessness. Give these people the chance to make $15/hr minimum and they might get jobs. Provide an affordable housing option and they might get off the street. Make healthcare available to everyone and they might get some help with their mental illnesses and substance abuse problems. Even if they all just leech off the system, I’d rather have it, higher taxes and all, just o live in a country that cares about people.
There’s a lot on Twitter about the two systems of justice in America. There are also two kinds of Christianity. I want to be clear that I believe in the one that always takes the side of the oppressed, always helps the poor and always acknowledges that we need to do better.