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, March 10, 2006

Pike - Pine Survey

Brother Dave & I needed to do a little research in the Pike-Pine neighborhood, so despite the freezing windy weather, we hung outside for most the night.

The first homeless guy we met was a hoot. "Tommy Salami" he called himself.

"What do you call a cow with no legs?" he asked. His answer, "Ground beef."

It got better. He had a 25 line street poem he recited, another moment I wish I was carrying a recording device. He and "Candy" hung out in a doorway. Takes his showers in detox, gets food from Central Lutheran and Covenant Church and used to eat at "the Wall" before that was shut down. Has not found his way to First Presbyterian for the public feed yet. He had an empty can of malt liquor, and derided his own lack of self control. But he's not ready to give up yet. He tries to take care of Candy, but the main attraction is more body warmth. We provided blankets and some snack items, pretty weak for the real need.

Ran into "Jewelry Guy" who tried to get us to pay five bucks for a decorated love bead. He was really smashed, just outside the little neighborhood grocer that sells the fortified stuff. He took the two bucks from Dave, but wasn't happy that we weren't buying his product.

Then we ran into a grouch sitting on the sidewalk in the rain. Started cussing us out for offering him a blanket. Not sure what his incoherent stuff meant, but felt sorry for the entire neighborhood. We could walk away, but what if you were trying to sleep? What a mess.

Another 1/2 block and met "Dave" panhandling smokes. He had just moved into the Wintonia, a low income building a few blocks away. Not really sure why he was hanging out on a cold night, maybe looking for something more than a cig. Since Brother Dave smokes, they had a drag together. There was real amity for a few moments, and he genuinely wanted the conversation.

The shop keeper at Belmont and Pike thought the homeless crowd had moved north to Denny/John. But we didn't see much evidence of it.

Spoke at length with a junkie at Seattle Central Community College. He was waiting around to sell a banana seat style bike, we suspected to his connection. He complained about the lack of treatment options. He said there were a lot of folks in empty houses near Broadway playfield. Can't believe there are many empty houses in this gentrified area.

On Broadway we ran across a few others, mostly too drunk for conversation or already dead asleep in doorways. Probably saw about 10 or 12 homeless folks in the area. The only common thread was access to rot-gut fortified beer/wine or their drug connections. When asked why they don't go to Pioneer Square, they offered that they didn't like the vibe. One guy said he didn't want to go to shelter because he can't drink or get rowdy.

Upon return, I reminded the Nightwatch staff that there was a whole group of homeless folks who can't get it together to even get to the dispatch center.

Also, we checked in at 3rd and Bell (closed early) and Dravus Street bar (slow after the drug raid over the weekend). The funniest thing that happened was that "K" -- slightly crazy maybe not sure coffee drinker may be a cousin of Brother Dave. Does it run in the family?

Pastor Rick


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