Street Stories

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

My Photo
Location: Seattle, Washington, United States

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

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Rain rain rain

Yeah, this is Seattle. Homeless look like drowned rats.

Nice visit to Dravus street bar. Some dude told me all the drug dealers left when I came in -- then later at Dispatch someone said the same thing about the bar at 3rd and Bell. Police? hahahahaahaha. The only drug deal I interfered with in 20 years is one involving a guy who used to bring his kids to my church for the free dinner, and I stumbled into the exchange, got my finger under his nose and gave him hell. His response: "It's not what you think." Right.

Met I. and Rude. Crazy K. and the milk maid bartender -- place was hopping. I guess the smoking ban dip is done. The smokers were in the parking lot, bouncing back in for beer, then back out in the rain. What a life.

At MFQAB there's a curious mix. It has been upscaled, so there's all these 20-30 year old beautiful people. Then at the end of the bar us old farts. The regulars that is. A few life changes in play, some quitting drinking. What a trio of us -- me with water, Train Guy with a diet coke, and the resident historian with decaf coffee. Big spenders. Nice to see a friendly face back behind the bar.

At Third and Bell -- lots of drug connections happening, bartender (Third Gospel) not very harsh. Talked to the Man with No Identity/now Restored about why his checks haven't started, no place to live, and on and on. Hey, and I just realized there were a few missing tonight that I can't remember not seeing there. Sheesh.

Back at the home office, two women waiting for shelter, and one last and late guy, who was going to take the blanket and a bus ticket to ride. Goo night.

Friday, December 23, 2005

streetwalk Dec 19th

Had a great night this week.
Stated slow at NO in Pioneer Square. A good visit with K. and Wiliam but nothing new.
K. was very quiet tonight. D. the bartender was standing outside the door smoking. He said they had sort of clean house recently, some who easily oversubscribe were asked to not come back. Had casual conversation with 4 or 5 poeple that I know.
No soup at 2B but had a long visit with J. with whom I had taled a couple of times before. When I only work a couple ofnights a moth, many times I miss people. Have had some deep spiritual conversation with J. hope to havemore.
5P. was busy as usual, a number of people ouside smoking. met L. V. and a couple of others who were very interested in what OPNW does. Got a great hug for L. and hope to follow up on this contact.
Saw F. at NL as usual. Always good to visit with him. He needs the contact.


streetwalk Dec 5th

Monday night Dec. 5
Made my usual rounds, intending to come in early since I have to be in Portland by 10:00 AM Tuesday. Didn't get to bed til midnight and then did;n sleep well.
No was very quiet. Talk to 2 people I know who work there and the barmaid.
K. was very busy. Lots of people came up to talk. Saw lady whose mother I had helped back in the 7-Seas Hotel days. Always get a bug and thank you from her. Good to talk to Doup at bar.
Whwn I left, many said "Father, we love you!".
Had a cup of soup at 2B and some casual conversation.
Saw F. at NL. and he wants to come to Church on Christmas Sunday, so we will pick him up.
Did get in a little earlier than usual but not much.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unhappy Customer

We had an unhappy customer last night.

There's a problem with homeless people just hanging out in the neighborhood around Operation Nightwatch. So we instituted a rule that says we won't help you if you decide to loiter in our neighborhood.

"I got a constitutional right to go where I want!!" they scream at me. Of course that's true. We also have the right to refuse service.

99% of our friends get it. They take a bus that gets them here at 9:10, or they hide out someplace closeby until we open at 9:00. Are we being cruel? No, we're simply trying to keep peace with neighbors.

There is absolutely no advantage to showing up early. We have plenty of food and goodies. Last night someone could have waltzed in at 9:45 and not waited in line, gotten all the food and goodies and socks he wanted.

So, the night before last some knucklehead was spotted at the bus stop a block away, a good hour before we opened. He made some case for himself ("I was helping a woman who was assaulted in a restaurant, you wouldn't want me to let her get murdered like that lady under the viaduct and what kind of Christian ARE you?") and then proceeded to scream at my staff (I heard it all -- he thought I wasn't around, so when he wrote me a letter it was a pretty interesting slant on it all).

The thing is, he was in the neighborhood, got caught up in someone else's drama (even this is doubtful, there was no woman around) and was barred for a single night. But because he was screaming threats and mayhem, we decided we're done helping him. CityTeam? Compass Center? Salvation Army ARC? There are options.
 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas Joy

There's a TB outbreak in Seattle.

Not good for homeless people, service providers, health care workers. Besides the annoyance of the skin test, you've got to factor in the added anxiety. They're packed in like sardines in some of these shelters, literally shoulder to shoulder and hacking away -- the guy is 10 inches from your face, droplets of sputum flying. Sorry, but that is reality.

So dear reader, the solution is to raise more money so we can spread things out a little, give a little elbow space -- if we took 25 guys out of there we could have room to roll over without knocking noggins. That must be my goal. 365 nights of shelter @ lets say $150 (being optimistic, allow me please this one indulgence) equals $54,750 divided by 12 is $4,500 a month. That's a pile of dough for a small organization. Anyone care to chip in? Enough of us at $100 a month should do.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

MFQAB Reopens!!

Yeah! My Favorite Queen Anne Bar has reopened. Under new management and looking unbelievable. Met the new owner (we try not to use real names of establishments or people -- give us some feedback here!). Definitely a different type place, very nice, very non-smoky. In fact there were more people clustered outside than inside drinking. It will be interesting when this non-smoking rule goes into effect.

But I'm getting ahead of myself on a busy night. It's really cold tonight, but early in the month many people have checks and go rent cheap rooms in hotels, or just plain party all night. So there's excess shelter space, though there is snow on the ground.

First stop after checking in at Nightwatch (14th and Main) was to Harborview Hospital. Here we visited our ailing tenant. He's pretty out of it. Started to say, "Don't take any. . . " one would presume "wooden nickels" but he fumbled a bit, then said, "Don't take any hookers." When I asked him what he meant he just laughed and said, "You know what I mean, right there, you know?" All I could do is think, "huh?"

From Harborview we scooted down to the Dravus Street Bar. Always interesting. Had a cup of java, greeted the Milk Maid Bartender, and regulars: "H" "J" "K" H is driving me crazy because I can never remember if he's Harry or Howard or Homer or Horton and I've met him too often to not remember. Alzheimers? If I remember properly how to spell it I must not be suffering. Oh, and note to self. The crazy kid is not Dogboy -- misinformed. He's Goulet.

Here's a replay of my "conversation" with Goulet. He asks me an unintelligible theological question, then takes umbrage at my response of "excuse me?" Then he tells me "A lot of people touched the Bible before anyone ever read it." Ah, I think, a discussion of textual criticism and documentary reliabilty. Before I can respond he asks me if I have ever asked God about aliens controlling humans with microwave energy so that we will fight with each other. He got up and moved and I pondered the likelihood of alcohol psychosis.

As we were leaving (we being Father Kim and I) we were stopped by one honest man -- a Scotch-Irish "I" (Hey, he fits in very well with the list of regulars above!). Grew up agnostic acknowledged his lost-ness. His blunt openness was refreshing. Hope we run into I again.

Milk Maid came all the way out to the sidewalk to thank us. (She was afraid we wouldn't come back after MFQAB reopens -- we started going to her joint looking for MFQAB evacuees two or three months ago.

Anyway, from Milk Maid to the yuppiefied but nice MFQAB. Kind of quiet, hasn't had it's grand reopening yet. After being empty for three months, it will take time for word to get out. But it was good to see some regulars, they seemed happy to see us. The whole place is muted and rich in feel, very different but cool. And NO SMOKING.

On down to Third & Bell. Place was packed -- first of the month, people have dough in welfare land. Third Gospel looking natty in the bar, R#3 playing pool and looking as healthy as I've ever seen him, sans wheelchair. "K" greeted us warmly as usual, and the Man With No Identity there as usual. I need another name for him, now that he's got two pieces of picture ID and is soon going to get Social Security. Hope the room opens for him in our building.

We had a deeper conversation than usual -- me trying to fit a wedge between the Catholic priest who got in the worst bar fight he's ever seen, and a living love faith relationship with the Creator. Every human being is broken and at some level a failure. This does not negate the fact that God can use them for a good purpose. We all sin. But God loves us. I think MWNI is getting it. I also took the opportunity to pick at the source of some of his anger with family over money and respect. He wished me a happy Christmas, but I pointed out I would see him at least three more times before Christmas.

Home to Nightwatch -- where there was a quiet night, no turn-aways and no problems. Off to bed! Pastor Rick