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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Families Families Families

The Deluge Hath Begun -- this is the time of year when the families pour into Nightwatch.

There aren't enough options -- now the city wants to see "results." This means that the family shelters getting city $$$ are going to hang onto their families longer, so they have a better chance of actually getting them placed in transitional or permanent housing. Which means there's less open spots, more families sleeping in cars. The little bit we're able to do (one night in a motel) doesn't mean too much but it adds up to thousands of dollars a year in expense. We wring our hands wanting to do more, but we also realize that three days, or a week, or two weeks would still not be enough to really deal with what ultimately is a complex and systemic problem. ARGGH. That's my rave. I just sent a mom and two kids off to another agency, knowing full well they're going to end up with us tonight at 8:30 p.m.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Funniest/saddest story of the night: One of my regulars tells me about working in the woods with his dad and his uncle. He's about 9 years old, they've got a rack of Olympia. So the adults gave the kid a beer. "Phlooah! I told them I really didn't like it."

"Well, what kind of beer DO you like?" they asked him. Age 9!

He said he tried Pabst Blue Ribbon, and that's what he was drinking last night.

Met "Mark" -- a dealer in a casino, getting off work. We talked about what that world is like; I've never been to a casino in my life, don't really know the rules for play or the etiquette. He told me he has won $80,000 and lost $90,000 in his lifetime.

"Harley" was there tonight too -- a train fan. Talked trains, this and that.

Then we hustled downtown just in time for closing at 3rd & Bell. Talked to "D" about moving off the street. He seemed more animated than ever -- but then we were a little later than usual. In fact "J" the bartender said everyone was squirrelly last night so that's why she was closing up. Besides, they were all ready drunk so she wasn't going to be able to serve them any more. Also saw "R" -- a guy we used to help at Nightwatch in the mid 1990s -- he was a handful then, and someone told me he is still a handful. Medicating with alcohol for his mental problems, imho.