Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stories from the Mission... bit 39

   In the clinic at the mission I saw an overnighter that had to be at least 75 years old, bent over at a right angle. He had 4 winter jackets on, open in the front, and was wearing sandals. His voice was kindly and high pitched, his two week beard was pure white an trimmed well. He had his whole life neatly packed into a two wheel cart that he kept near him at all times. This is not how he had planned his life.
  And now for some ramblings... I get a grin when I see the guys with Micky mouse ears... they have the big central bald spot and the sides need cutting, so that part has grown big like mouse ears. When you are on the stage, it's hard to see most of the eyes, till they lean back and look up at the lights, then their eyes glisten. Another cool thing about stage in the main auditorium, when we sing hymns, there is a group of regular guys to the mission on the right that belt out the fills on the songs, so cool! In the day room, when we go in to clean up and straighten the chairs, you can see how they set up little territories. They may have little material wealth, but they still act like countries. If the zombie  apocalypse ever happens, go to a homeless shelter, they have everything you need for bare survival, neatly packed in those bags.  I've noticed that if I touch my Bible to my forehead as I am praying, it is very comforting.
   One thing about quitting smoking that I really don't like is that my sense of smell is coming back. I live in a dorm with 60 other guys... for every one good thing to smell, there are 70 nasty things that are screaming, don't inhale this! I wonder if like when you loose your eye sight, all the other senses get better to compensate, so if I loose my sense of smell... hmmm? I could go for that!
   More turnover in the program. We are under 60 guys which I hear is the lowest in years. The economy isn't that good, so I'm trying to figure out why. The guys tell me that once the weather gets really cold, the place will get jammed with guys. There is one possible reason in the kitchen as one of the chefs, like on TV, can be a loud mouthed jerk. It's a very visible position and many of the overnighters see it and think all the staff is that way. Part of me realizes that there are bosses out there just like that and you need to learn to deal with it at some point if you want to be back in the work force some day.
   Then there is a thing we do called 'search'. The program men sleep on the third floor while the overnight guests stay on the second in large dorms. During the days, the dorms down there are empty and just program men assigned to it are there cleaning and setting up beds. All the rest of the program men would check the search sheet to see if our names where on it that night, It's basically one guy from each crew that has to do it. So, the guys on the list gather on the second floor near the main stair well at a large, abandoned looking kiosk around 8PM.. We all sign in, pray in and get ready for the overnight guests to come up in groups released by security downstairs. There is a wide hallway between the kiosk room and the main dorms and the chosen program guys stand on each side near the wall, spread evenly along it's length. Altogether there is usually 8 guys to search and one guy to direct. So, what are we searching for? They have learned over time (The mission is over 137 years old) that some things just don't go well in a crowded dorm situation, like knives, guns, drugs n sundry stuff. We also check for food (Just makes a mess and attracts bugs) pens or markers (Don't want graffiti), no lighters or rototillers. Ok, I added the last one, I used to say that out loud and get the guys to laugh a bit, lol. So the overnight guests are let in one at a time and directed to one program man to be checked. It is a humbling situation for both as you get to know them over time, finding out what is going on in their lives. I met a guy going through one night that had a whole bunch of thumb drives and when I asked him why he had so many he told me he is a writer. Turns out he really was, wrote for a bunch of magazines and went to art galleries all over the world to report on them. I don't know where in my journal I discuss him in more detail, so remind me if I forget.
   Some of the strange things found at search. One guy had like nine wads of flattened out toilet paper in the front of his shirt. I asked him if he was trying to be bullet proof. One night I heard an exclamation near the front of the search hall and watched as they tossed 13 first sized rocks on the ground found on one dude. Crack pipes, the occasional shank, bottles of booze and I once found a chunk off an ornate metal lamp. The guys always have the option of going back down stairs and checking it in at security, then coming back up. One guy always had a fist full of old toothbrushes... I dunno.
   this is the first time I have written on a proper desk instead of my bunk. I went down to search a bit early the other day with a book (Through the gates of splendor) and found that abandoned kiosk is about the quietest place in the building. I'm sure it won't last... will be some rule against it. When I got down there that night there was another guy reading also. His name is Joseph T. (You may have noticed I'm not putting full names out there to respect their privacy), a great guy that started about 10 days before me. He is a bright, upbeat dude, very much into the word and handing out tracks. Joe gave me a big print Bible on my third day when he heard I was having trouble reading in the bad light of the dorm. I since came to find out that when he first arrived, he didn't know how to read at all. I keep in contact with him and he is now involved with running a shelter out on the other side of the state. he can often be seen sitting across from Robert, the two of them talking so fast, like they are on a different plain from us, lol. Good, solid Christian, even if he is from Texas, LOL.

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