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, April 15, 2008


Got the following email from Ann, Deputy Director, from Sunday night, April 13:

Okay. Total was over 180. 45 women. It was too hard. It was discouraging. It was too hard. It was too hard.
A morbidly obese woman came in from WRC with a walker, and several bags that she could not carry. I think other women from WRC helped her get to us, but then bailed. When I signed her in, she rambled on about having been discharged from Virginia Mason, been treated for edema (she was large but also swollen). She claimed she could not go to another place (she thought our location was the shelter); she just couldn't move anymore. I got her the last spot at Tonya's Room Shelter but she refused to go. She refused to go to any shelter. I offered to call for an ambulance to take her back to the hospital, which she ultimately did.
In the meantime, a male client parked himself near the door. He had come from the hospital too. He too could not move well. When the obese woman and another woman in a wheelchair (she went to Tonya's) came rolling through the door, this man who could barely walk stood up feebly and offered his chair. The women find other chairs with help from more able-bodied clients and the lame man sits back down. At the end of the night, he is one of the 6 male turnaways. Everyone leaves except him. He's the only one left, so he asked if he could stay in the Dispatch Center. He sounded like he wanted to go back to a hospital, but when he talked to the medics on the phone, he told them he would take a cab. Then he changes his mind and told us he would walk out of here and go catch a bus to get to a 174 to ride all night. But he didn't know where the bus stop was, and could not really walk (he has MS). Salvador fetched the pair of crutches we have in the back and the guy leaves, very slowly, very wobbley with the crutches headed for Jackson. I put my head down and pray. Its too hard.
Fifteen minutes later, we close at midnight. Salvador, Paul and I go out the door together and we see the guy with the crutches going down 14th toward Jackson, but he's barely in front of {the neighbor's} place. Its been fifteen minutes. I can't stand seeing it, so I go fast around the corner to my car, which is parked on Main, in front of the Temple. I drive up Main, right on 16th to Jackson and right on Jackson, heading home. When I stop at the light on Rainier and Jackson, I see the guy. He's now almost to the corner. And I see a BMW make a u-turn on 14th to pull up right next to the guy. Its Salvador, who gets out and goes to talk to the guy. Salvador clears out his front seat and even demonstrates to the guy how he should back into the seat. The light changed before I saw the guy get in Salvador's car, but I'm sure he gave him a ride. Thank God for Salvador. This is too hard.

Just another crappy April night at Operation Nightwatch.

Today we pay our taxes. Billions we spend for war, but for some poor person who is sick, go sleep on a bus.

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