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, May 19, 2006

A Light in the Darkness

Things were pretty slow at Dravus Street bar for Father Kim and myself. We were chatting with Milk Maid, friendliest bartender in town.

"Is there some construction going on around here? They've got spray paint construction marks on the sidewalk. The owner didn't sell this place did he? What would happen if it closed?"

"It would be. . ." Milk Maid pauses, wheels turning as she contemplates the closure of this run down seedy place where she has worked for 25 or 30 years. "It would be. . . great!" and she smiled sunnily at the prospect.

She agreed that her bar was a little ragged. "Needs lighting," she pointed out. But a bunch of the beer signs weren't lit. Father Kim says "I think we can reach that one," and drags a chair behind the bar. Since he's probably 4 inches taller than me, he clambers up on the chair, then up on the back bar, reaches up and jiggles the gaudy neon Budweiser sign, while I flip the switch on the power strip, probably zeroing out the cash register. Suddenly, there was light! (Lite??)

So then we notice all the other unlit beer signs. This was our amusing work for the next 20 minutes; we got another one to work, figured out which were burned out or lacked an outlet, found junk thrown up on high shelves by impish patrons. Good deed done, we were off to MFQAT (My Favorite Queen Anne Tavern).

Here were 5-6 regulars, also a slow night. "J" talked about his continued self-improvements (yes, plural) and spoke hopefully of things to come. I talked briefly with several others -- good guys, all dealing with the usual things. Father Kim spent the entire night talking to one woman (can't remember the name I gave her for these purposes. Tug Boat Annie comes to mind.)

Tug Boat is waxing eloquent as only she can -- has the full conjugation of the F word down quite well. She was all het up about immigrants. "Let the MFers learn Fing English" which struck me and Father Kim as being hilarious -- plus the phrase "breeding like rabbits" was uttered and repeated. But bless her, she's been getting to church with son age 30, and she did buy our water last night, 2 bucks. I left a tip for the erudite bartender.

Hope MFQAT is making it.

Back at the home office, one woman was waiting for placement. I called in the coordinates for Tent City 3, currently at 22nd and Cherry. Hope she arrived on her one good leg.

God bless us, when a one-legged woman has to survive on the streets of Seattle.


These two stayed at a shelter sponsored by Nightwatch about 10 years ago.


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