Tag Archives: homeless

Nobody Wants to be THAT Silent Bystander that Could Have, but Didn’t, Prevent Tragedy

25 Mar

Walking about-July 2012 030Today, when I went to class I saw something a little unusual.

I drove to the parking lot and parked, and saw a man walking through the lot.  He was around 50 years old, so not your traditional student.  And he was wearing a green army jacket–not typical of faculty.  He didn’t seem to be DOING anything in particular, I just thought he looked out of place.  But really, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice under normal circumstances.  The real thing that caught my attention was what he carried.  He didn’t have a back-pack or a brief case or any kind of binder of notebook, or even a rake or something that screamed student, staff, or maintenance.  All he had was a crow bar.  And he walked down the row of cars, and sort of meandered further into the middle of the parking lot, instead of the road or exit he had initially been approaching.

And I thought he looked like he could try to break into cars, smash windshields, or worse shoot up a campus.  He just didn’t seem to fit the environment.  And I thought some desperate homeless person or veteran with terrible PTSD could have come from the train tracks behind us or from downtown very nearby the campus.  I didn’t especially WANT to find out what he was doing, and being the only person in the vicinity I did not want to become victim #1, so as I walked I kept an eye on him.  Even through he was now sort of behind me, I just ignored the flashcards in my hand and glanced back every few steps.  And he watched me too.  So I was a little suspicious and unnerved.

I didn’t want to over-react in any way, and certainly I was not alarmed at this point.  BUT if the guy was up to something or intended on some horrible crime, I didn’t want to be that person that everyone interviewed afterward who looks all dumb.  Dumb because they saw something that wasn’t right, realized it, then ignored it and let tragedy ensue.  So I planned on reporting the incident (or non-incident as the case may be) to the front desk when I got inside the school.

But before I made it, there were 2 guys who looked like part of the school’s landscaping crew.  I said excuse me and asked if there was a third man working with them–which confused them greatly.  So I just mentioned the unusual man carrying the crow bar through yellow parking.  I didn’t want a scene or anything, in case the man had been doing something perfectly legit, but I didn’t think it would hurt for someone to ask him what was up either.  And I think landscaping headed over there to check it out, but I’m not sure if they followed up.  So I didn’t report it to anyone else–that felt like over-kill.  And luckily, no one shot up, bombed, or vandalized the school that I know of.

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Going to the Media

28 Aug

There is a story that needs to be written:

Who takes care of the trails system? The branch of the Centennial on East S. Riverton Ave (across the river from Avista and across Mission Avenue from Witter Pool) is overgrown to the point people are hiding in the shrubbery. I think some grooming is in order.

I sent this note to the Spokane Police, Spokane Transportation, Spokane Parks & Rec, and Spokane Government. Each entity deferred responsibility to someone else, so no one is doing anything.

This is right down the road from where Sharlotte McGill was stabbed to death and is marked as an official trail. To let the foilage grown to an extent that people can hide/drink/drunk/live within is dangerous for everyone that trusts a community trail should be safe.

From Parks & Rec: [Here’s the official word —– The trail between the river and South Riverton is Tuffy’s Trail and is not part of the Centennial Trail. There is an informal, unofficial dirt path that runs closer to the Riverbank where vegetation is heavier but we advise people to stay on the paved and sidewalk trail that runs on top along the street. The vegetation does not encroach on the trail in this location. —– So it looks like that part of the trail might be out of luck. Thanks for letting us know!]

From the Police:  [I believe that would be Parks and Recreation. . .  You may want to check with the street department at 232-8800. Other than that, we’re out of other options.]

“Tuffy’s trail” is the lower dirt trail demarcated by a sign and starts near Napa–well away from the Mission portion I’m speaking of. I’m talking about the Centennial Trail right on Mission, the bike branch–which has a sign saying “Centennial Bike Trail.” It is dangerous to be on the cement there as the trees and brush obscure view from the street and people are hanging out/drinking open container/living/maybe doing drugs there.

It’s unfortunate there is apathy for that part of the trail and the safety of the people on it. Someone ought to care. . . Maybe if you write a story on the issue, someone will find the motivation to do something in order to avoid another tragedy.

Random Fears

10 Sep

3AM: My nemesis. I always wake up at this hour in the night, sometimes to pee. Sometimes I just make my way to the bathroom since I’m awake already. When I walk across the dark room trying to avoid the bed and the cat, I have this habit of rubbing the sleep from my eyes. And Every. Single. Time. I think–if I tripped I might poke my eye out. . .

Another fear involving eyes regards my contacts.  I always put the left one first, because that’s my worse eye.  So if something were to go wrong and the was acid in my contact case, or the peroxide in the cleaner hadn’t neutralized, I would still have an eye with good vision.

Answering the door.  When there is a knock at the door, and I am not expecting it–well, it freaks me out.  I wonder who it is and what they could possibly want.  I try to be really quiet so whoever it is doesn’t know I’m home.  And I never, never open the door.  I’ve seen and heard about people pushing their way inside and doing terrible things.  So I’m paranoid about people at my door.

Strangers.  Of any kind, really.  I know it’s silly, but I’m suspicious of most everyone.  I watch serial killer movies and documentaries all the time and the number one thing is–the killer is always someone unexpected.  They are attractive and charismatic.  So therefore, you can’t trust sketchy-looking (homeless) people OR normal looking people.  So I’m always weary, and thus unfriendly, towards people I do not know.

Seafood.  I eat most everything.  I absolutely hate throwing food away, so I’ll eat something a little questionable every now and again.  And most things can be nuked extra long and I’m confident all food-borne pathogens are killed.  But anything involving seafood is not even good for leftovers.  When you hear about someone who DIES from food poisoning, more often then not it was seafood that did it.

Not hiding in especially rural areas.  It’s not that I’m super-gay or flamboyant or anything like that.  My problem is that people do not know that I AM gay.  It isn’t like I’m trying to HIDE anything–I guess I just don’t look like your typical gay, and I don’t wear a rainbow flag.  Being seen with Cool is the only tip-off to people normally.  And being closeted is self-hating and lame, not to mention too much effort.  BUT when we go to certain places–I’m like do not touch me, don’t look at me.  I am afraid in places like Idaho, Montana, and other really rural areas that we will get killed over it.

My teeth.  It seems most of my random fears involve my face.  If I skip wearing my (lifelong) retainer at night, I’ll start to have nightmares that my teeth are crooked.  And when I’m awake I’ll thin they feel a little loose, and sometimes I even think they feel different to my tongue.  As a continuation of teeth, I worry more and more when I haven’t been to the dentist.  I NEED to go every 6 months, but moving, money, and scheduling doesn’t always hardly allows that.  And the longer I go between visits, the more exponentially the worry increases that something will be seriously wrong/expensive to fix in there.

So I guess I’m a head case, is the point of this post.

What Garbage!

20 May

I absolutely HATE throwing away food.  Especially if it’s perfectly good.  I’ll even eat questionable things, because as my dad says, “Waste not, want not.”  I don’t want a food-borne illness situation, but face it, most foods just squig you out–they do not literally make you ill if ingested.  The last time I had any sort of food poisoning was at that sushi restaurant in SanFran in 2007.  And for $6 a plate, I was happy for the rental, actually.  Just cook it longer–gosh high temperatures will kill a lot of bugs.

Some people are not this way.  Most, I would argue.  I’m appalled at how much food people chose not to eat.  Or the way people will NOT clean their plate at a restaurant–where they paid large sums.  School lunches and buffets are more then likely the biggest culprits of food waste.  Kids are picky, and have relatively small appetites, and the food offered is not good.  So a LOT of perfectly good food (some even in original wrappers) gets tossed.  And buffets have a lot of waste just because of the sheer volume of food offered.  I have been a victim of eyes bigger then my stomach more then a few times.

On Marion Nestle’s blog, the consensus of the foodies seemed to be the even giving fast food to the homeless was inappropriate.  All of them favored giving organic, natural, locally-grown options that they themselves would eat.  And I argue, that those do-gooders have no fucking clue, and when it’s a matter of eating at ALL, quality doesn’t matter all that much.  And I say–get real pretentious people *eye roll*

And I wonder if Nevada, state of the best, largest, and most buffets (true statement), donates the leftovers to food banks, homless shelters, or Meals on Wheels.  I would like to think so, but it’s difficult to know.  Every place has it’s own policy.  Also, donating old food can be logistically difficult and turn into a costly endeavor.  You know food have to be kept at certain temperatures to avoid culturing something nasty and harmful, so it’s not just a matter of hauling leftovers across town.  We’re talking refrigeration trucks.


I watched a documentary on the New York homeless who live under subways and they were indicating restaurants there pour bleach over their trash.  I think this is SUPER-unethical and wasteful.  Why do that???  I’m not even certain why businesses would DO that.  I’m glad it wasn’t happening in the NorthWest, as Cool’s roommate would rumage the trash behind some grocery story or organic something or other and would bring whole crates of fresh fruits and vegetables back to the frat house (and store them in the dishwasher???  but that another story for another post).  This is socially and environmentally conscious Seattle that all this fresh produce was just put in the garbage.  What a shame.  Waste of resources, waste of money, wasteful. . .

So moral:  Eat what you take.  If you don’t it’s hard to tell if it will be donated or plucked out of the trash.

A Murder on My Road

4 May

One block from my apartment. Less then a football field’s length away from where I have to park my car b/c my apartment does not have enough spaces. It’s where we walk ALL the time. Probably once a week since we moved to Spokompton.

I can’t say I’m any more scared now then I already was.  I think I’ve mentioned on here how I have a phobia of homeless people (and fires).  I knew the scene by the river.  We walked on the lower trail the first day we moved in, and due to the three different homeless camps out of view from the road/trail above (two of them with drunk people milling about at 10 AM on a Sunday) we realized it wasn’t safe for us.  I was fearful of the homeless hanging about–just because desperate people do desperate things.  And intoxication doesn’t help the situation.

I was already afraid of the hispanic guy who lives by the bench, and pees openly on the Centenial Trail.  And I was VERY afraid of the bed in the bushes by that bench–because the only reason I saw it at all w as I happened to hear some rustling in there.  And the visual was blocked from the trail and the road, and past the line of apartments.  It crossed my mind that whoever made it could grab someone right off the trail, drag them in there, and no one would see a thing.

And I was annoyed at the people speeding crazily down our quiet road.  And we called the police about it a couple of times–with no result.  We knew we’d be looking out the window and see one of those dogs running about (off leash) get hit by some speeder.  Or a kid.

Speaking of cars–I have to park Rusty down there.  And I called the police two different times when someone broke into my car.  Again with no result.  And at the time, I asked the police about the homeless problem and was told “priorities.”  And since we’ve seen sketchy activity in the gravel area near the bridge, and people walking under the bridge then coming out 10 minutes later, I asked if the law minded if people had illicit substances, and was told I could always call about it. . .  Still, we didn’t see a single police car on our road, so I just bought a better car alarm (and kept my eyes away from possible drug deals).

I hadn’t been parking Rusty down there for the last two weeks, like I usually do.  The road was closed for construction.  So it was even quieter then usual.  But every morning I walk down there by myself, to get into Rusty.  And it’s early enough that there aren’t a bunch of people on their balconies, or people walking their dogs, or joggers around.  This could have happened to me on any day.

But a 55 year old Sharlotte McGill was stabbed to death.  She was walking up from the lower trail, where we sometimes hear voices (of the River People) in the bushes.  Someone just jumped out and knifed her.

I’ll bet it was one of the homeless people who hang out around here.

And I assert again–80% of homeless people are addicted to at least one substance.  And this is probably even more true of “The River People” because the Union Gospel Mission, within walking distance has enough beds for people to stay there, free food, even dorm-like rooms that people can graduate to living in longer-term, on top of drug counseling and job training.  The only reason NOT to seek help there, is that you are loaded.  The Mission won’t allow anyone in who isn’t sober at the time.  It’s not a far stretch to think desperate people will do desperate things.

Next–how this turned into the great gun debate.

Even the Homeless Should Eat Organic

19 Aug

Again with the homeless. . .  I was reading one of my favorite blogs this morning (Food Politics) and Marion Nestle’ asked if there is an ethical dilemma giving food to the homeless you yourself would not eat.

Her (apparently pretentious, upper-middle class) readers were appalled someone would give McDonalds to the homeless–instead of Whole Foods Market items.  See my post on McDonalds and know my stance is not favorable.  See my post on organics and know that I am wary.  See my over overabundance of posts on the homeless and know that I am phobic.  I guess these things color my perspective.

Also, know that I just got off food stamps myself, and that my regular grocery shopping occurs at the Grocery Outlet.  Not necessarily because I love the processed foods that other grocery stores could not sell, but because I can afford more that way.  It’s about money.

Only the rich can be super-picky about organic, local farmed, ethically grown foods.  I could never pay $5.00 for an organic pepper. . .  At any rate, these affluent readers have apparently never helped with a canned food drive or been to a food bank.  Almost all the cans are saurkrout, beans, and other items that had been langoring on the shelf.  And so what if people donate the food they aren’t eating themselves–what’s the harm?

When you don’t have shelter or regular food, I think a bigger concern than heart problems and obesity is surviving the elements.  How the food was grown is so small a concern if you are starving!  Rather than becoming irate at offering the homeless anything less than a four star meal, maybe these readers of Nestle’s should volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter and learn what REAL problems the impoverished face.

The homeless are taking handouts.  The cans of discarded food are better than digging in the trash.  McDonald’s food is better than starvation.  I think the real ethical dilemma is WHAT to hand to the homeless.  And I’m always in favor of food over money.  I want to feed the person, not their drug habit.  And this isn’t blind prejudice, look up the stats yourself–the majority of homeless have a substance abuse problem.  They are addicts.  So I think if they eat at all-even if it’s icky fast food or yucky cans, it’s a good thing.


Homeless + Vocab

6 Feb

t the acme of my worst financial situation, I was lucky to have people who were able to mollify my poverty by providing financial support, so I wasn’t at risk of becoming homeless.  Something arbitrary could happen to anyone and cause them financial trouble–especially if no one is in a position to assuage the monetary loss when they need it.  I can’t imagine losing my job and having to abdicate my house.  When you are in money trouble, you need to react with alacrity to avoid real trouble.  Irresponsible people, who live only for bonhomie can get themselves in economic trouble quickly.  People should be able to forestall poverty at least enough to keep shelter.A strung out person probably could not articulate that they need help–so they will get more and more desperate.  In my mind, it takes some time to become impecunious–it seems people should be able to avoid it.    If people spent wisely and used more prudence in financial decisions, there wouldn’t be nearly as many homeless people.

Adults learn these behaviors that get them into trouble starting at an early age.  Kids can be whimsical, but if they don’t have a grip on reality as adults, they will be at risk.Maybe if their parents had given an damn and upbraided their kids when they were naughty, teaching them responsibility, those kids wouldn’t have grown up and failed at life to become homeless.  That spoiling does nothing to propitiate the situation once the parent is unable to extend any more help to their irresponsible child.  Homelessness and addiction go hand-in-hand:  People that are addicted or that have some sort of mental disability are often impetuous–so that could explain some of the people that have no shelter.  People are usually reticent about why they are living on the streets-it’s probably not a pretty story.  A lot of homeless people use tangential reasoning for why they are in dire straights–them blame other people.  Homeless people are quick to go into a tirade about how it isn’t their fault. . .  Yeah. . .   Like addicts, probably every single thing that comes out of a homeless person’s mouth can be repudiated.

The only reason people would be living outside rather than in a shelter is they are somehow intractable, addicted to some substance, or are otherwise unable to follow the rules.  Instances of homelessness could be reduced substantially if people would just abstain from drugs.  It is ostensible that homeless people lived a smart, pious life and just fell on hard times that could not be avoided–but it doesn’t seem to happen that way often.  The transient people are either that way because they were bad in someway or get impious as a result of such a hard life.  Bifurcating with an addiction is very difficult and requires outside help in most cases.  I believe homeless people are in that situation because they have made decisions that are less than judicious.

When Mike brought the homeless girl into our house, I was very mannered, and didn’t know how to act.  My disbelief, discomfort, and phobia could not be placated.  It reminded me of  the “Ellen” episode where she unknowingly invites a homeless man to her repast is easy to criticize–they were so awkward!  Though it does little to conciliate the real problem, I advocate laws that keep homeless out of sight and away from the public–desperate people could do anything.  Homeless people are hardened to such an extent they become adulterated in some ways.  I have a constant phobia that the homeless will assail me to rob, rape, and render me dead.

There must be a juncture in someone’s life where they just give in to what ever tribulation they are facing and decide they don’t care if they have a place to live.  If homeless people could kindle any motivation there are always crap-jobs they could do–even felons.  The life of a homeless person must be so ambiguous–I can’t imagine having no place to go and no schedule or routine.  The homeless people by the Spokane River were languidly drinking beer when we saw them at 10:30 AM one Sunday morning.  What do you expect if you are nothing but listless?  Of course you will lose everything!  On one hand the number of homeless people makes me lugubrious, but on the other, I can’t help to think they are responsible for their situation.  For some reason, the homeless are the most gregarious when they are outside of grocery stores.  Panhandlers are so verbose about their need–when does pride go out the window?  When the homeless approach me, I am laconic as possible and attempt to disengage, because I am afraid of what they might do to me.  It is so annoying that homeless people feel they have to deface underpasses and train cars and walls with their graffiti.

When I see the homeless people walking around the community, they are always cursing and loud, very plebeian in character.  At night, walking alone, I see wraiths of homeless people and transients in my mind’s eye.  I can’t help but to wonder what they are capable of doing to me, and my fears can not be palliated easily.  If I were homeless, with no comforts, I would be terrified–nothing could appease me, and I would hardly remain imperturbable.  If I were homeless, I would be hustling to improve my situation, but it seems the people I see living on the streets arequiescent and resigned to their fate.  Maybe my phobia has made more invidious towards the homeless–but I feel the fear is based on fact.

Government assistance alleviates a lot of hardship, but they don’t have enough money to support everyone–and there is a lot of hoop-jumping required.  I give encomium to the people charitable enough to help the homeless with donations or time.   Tabitha talked about volunteering with the homeless, but it was more meretricious than sincere.  I think there are government programs designed to teach a technical skill or provide education so the homeless can bolster their position in life.  Hopefully when the economy recovers, jobs will burgeon, and there will be less homeless people, mollifying the problem.

I feel sorry for veterans and other people with mental disorders that end up homeless-as a nation it is grievous that we treat war heroes and incompetents with such disdain.  It comes down to the fact that people heterogeneous to well-adjusted population are homeless-they fail somehow.  Living outside, by a river, especially in a northern state could be zephyr and cold in a hurry.  I wonder if homeless people ever feel mirth again?

Skid Row + Vocab

6 Feb

Skid Row seemed terrible–all decorous behavior vanished, apathy everywhere, everyone lived like animals.  The food offered by the missions is meant to be sustenance, not known for its tastefulness.  On Skid Row, pretty much anything goes–appropriate, socially correct behavior is relative.  Anyone who uses proper English on Skid Row would be marked as an outsider in no time–education is disregarded there.  No one is courteous–instead using brawn and viciousness to obtain daily needs and wants.

The filth surrounding Skid Row is appalling–certainly far from comme il faut.  How can you expect manners or politeness from heroin addicts and drug dealers?  I noticed how most of the people on “Skid Row” were ultimately indifferent which made them fallacious–reverting back to the same ‘ol drugs when it came down to it.  One of my favorite quotes:  How do you know an addict is lying?  His lips move.  It seems like all addicts are sophistic andspurious by nature.  Homeless people don’t want to be that way so they say plausible things about their goals and aspiration to get help, but the addict part kicks in.  Also, they become listless in changing their situation.  It is ostensible that a drug users are enjoying themselves–when they’re under the influence, but being an addict isn’t fun.  It’s really sad that spurious junkies involve their families in their addictive behavior and its consequences.

The people on Skid Row are mostly addicts–70-90% of them, so the police know they are beyond reproach.  To vituperate one person on Skid Row would be pointless, because there are so many criminals right there, and they would fill up all the jails in California–so they are pretty much left alone.  The authorities become unresponsive to the scene as well.  Even recovered people fall victim to their previous vices, and become sophistic about hiding their behavior.  The illusory solution to the problem is to segregate the homeless junkies, but that creates new, larger problems for L.A. and the nation as a whole.  This segregating attitude combined with stolidity by the homeless themselves, the government of California, and society as a whole is what contributed to and upheld Skid Row in the first place.  The specious solution is throwing money at the problem, and sure, that would help, but for long term success, America has to fix the housing market, instill education, help inequality–it’s a multi-faceted problem with no easy solution.

Most of the homeless featured in the documentary parry questions, and insult interviewers to remain invisable–there is astigma in living on Skid Row.  They had to use hidden cameras to film the documentary because the people on Skid Row were so Evasive about being taped.  The derelicts living on Skid Row were paranoid about cameras and camera crews, repelling all media from the streets.  The residents on Skid Row also avoided police offers, and knew the documentary guy was a phony impostor when he approached police to ask what was happening.  When asked if they wanted to be homeless or do drugs the people would deflect the question by asking for more drugs.  Skid Row inhabitants figured police, FBI, etc had a conspiracy against them.  The homeless addicts living there hated the police because they feared an insurrection.

Skid Row is not a new phenomenon–having established fusty, prehistoric roots back in the 1870’s!  Seattle coined the superannuated term “skid road” because the loggers would sleep in Pioneer Square on their off-season having no work or money.  It’s weird to me that these skid roads are right next to downtown metropolis areas–I wonder which is superseded.  Drugs were introduced to Skid Roads in bygone times–quite early due to people down on their luck and desperate.  Vancouver’s Skid Row has the highest instance of heroin deaths, starting in dated times on the North American continent.   The dowdy hotels and cheap housing attracted out of work fisherman and loggers, then the drugs made it even more of a seedy area.  AIDS, HIV, and Hepatitis-C are not obsolete in the areas of Skid Row even with the aid of programs like the IV drug safe injection site in Canada.

Central City East is the outdated term for Los Angeles’ Skid Row.  An outmoded name for an area of 5th street occupied by homeless is “The Nickle.”  There were stale accusations that the police and hospitals in L.A. transported the homeless to Skid Row instead of offering services to them.  The name Skid Row is so passe‘ that the fire station (#9) that services the area has “Skid Row” emblazoned on the sides of their fire-trucks.  New York’s “The Bowery” had the vintage name of Skid Row.

It is crazy to think the Skid Row statistics are not embellished.  Estimates of 7,000 to 8,000 homeless people in Los Angeles are not enhanced–there are really that many people on the streets on Skid Row.  It is not embroidery of facts that California government deemed the number of shelter beds inadequate for the amount of homeless and now allow camping on the sidewalks within boundaries of Skid Row from 9 PM to 6:30 AM.  It seems to me that the government just gave up on the problem and became insensible about finding a true solution.  Seeing the streets bedecked with tents, addicts, and human excrement is quite shocking from my living room–I can’t imagine seeing Skid Row in person.

The streets are adorned with 51.4% Hispanics, 25.5% Caucasians, and 16.7% African Americans.  It is no exaggeration that the per capita income for Skid Row is 41.8% below the poverty line.   It’s hard to elaborate on the problem of Skid Row without seeing it.  Almost all the residents of Skid Row suffer some sort of stigma.  They are marked by poverty, blemished from addiction, tainted with mental disorders, and stained from living hard.  The opprobrium falls not only on the homeless themselves, but on a impassive society–because we had a hand in putting those people there.  It is a blot on our country that there are Skid Rows scattered throughout with a throw away population living in filthy, horrid conditions.  The third world conditions on Skid Row discredit us as a nation.