Street Stories

Weblog of Seattle minister to the homeless Rick Reynolds, Operation Nightwatch

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Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

Caring for human beings seems like the best use of my time, homeless or not.

Friday, April 22, 2005

When you think of homeless person, you may have this guy in mind. Actually more homeless people work jobs than panhandle. Posted by Hello

Waiting for shelter at the Nightwatch Dispatch Center in Seattle (14th S. & S. Main) Posted by Hello

Dave Leaves Double Header

Dave is gone.

For the past almost-eleven-years he was the bartender at the Double Header, a Pioneer Square bar I've been visiting since the early 80s.

Dave is gone, and I'm sad.

We both started work the same month -- May of 1994. We reminded each other of this fact every time we saw each other.

Dave was a good guy -- kept the house in order, saw to his customer's needs, brought a blue collar Boston style take-no-guff attitude to what can be a rough location.

God bless you Dave.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

High as a Kite

Strange night. All the regulars were gone except the barkeeps and one old man (Richard#2).

I sat along the back wall and waited for what might happen.

Nice looking guy in a suit walks in, sees me, freaks out. He was high as a kite. Here's how it sounded when he talked with me -- a lot of information in stream of consciousness, eyes flashing all around. He was disheveled but middle class in his bearing and look.

"I-need-loving, 11-years-sober-relapsed-walked-out on-wife-22 years-married-two-kids-using crack-got-a-whore-and-I-bought this-suit-$450-doesn't-make-me-feel-better-was-going-to- shave-clean-up-a-little, but . . ."

At this point his whore walked in frantically. My impression was that the connection was outside and she needed $20. They thrashed around with each other for a bit and left the bar. Outside a group of people were anxiously looking around for their product to be delivered.

OK, Lord, help him to fight his way back.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Nineteen, Pregnant, Addicted. And some more

Hard to believe life sometimes. Two months ago we got this girl info about services for pregnant women on heroin. Last night we ran into her. She still hasn't made the move, and now she's four months along. I think I might try a CPS move on her somehow. Father Kim urged her to do something now. She's got to love the baby more than smack.

Meanwhile I was talking to a fifty year old Norsk who lost his green card and was spending his Real Change dough on getting drunk. That will help his situation tremendously. He had a place to go all week, which required that he be sober. So the choice to drink was also a choice to stay outside. He thought God was involved with him being in a bar with two (actually three) priests. At 11:15 I told him I might be able to get him into another shelter, one that doesn't require sobriety. He turned me down.

"I want to keep drinking."

Alrighty then.

Father Kim said the guy looked 70.

Another character came over for a hug -- "Gummy" (not even her real street name) has been on and off the street since the late 1970's. Someone intervened on her behalf, restored her hearing, got her into an apartment. Hadn't seen her in a year, since we talked at the "Red Front" tavern in the International District.

Back at the home office before midnight we had a chance to encourage a guy who lost his wallet on the bus that day, and was going to have to stay outside -- all the shelters were full.

For more information on homelessness check out or


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Eastmont Wildcats!

Sunday night I took about 30 kids from Wenatchee, Washington out on the street, to give them an education about Seattle and homelessness.

We started from the crest of Yesler Hill, just above I-5. A greenbelt extends from Yesler to James Street, homeless trails going the length of it, with camping areas under young evergreens. The area is bordered by public housing, and the parking building for Harborview Hospital.

We walked toward the waterfront, trying to imagine the old growth timber which would be shoved down to the waterfront along this route (the origin of "Skid Road"). At the bottom of the hill we could see City Hall Park at Third & Yesler, where a feeding program was just wrapping up.

"Where you guys from?" one of the meal patrons asked.

"I'm from Operation Nightwatch, and I'm taking this group of kids from Wenatchee out on a tour."

"I graduated from Eastmont High in Wenatchee."

Now what are the odds of that? I take a group of kids out from a small town three hours away, and the first homeless guy we run into is from their school?