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, May 29, 2008

Take a deep breath


When despair grows in me

and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Homeless evicted from Seattle park

More good news from the City of Seattle: Homeless evictions.

What's really funny, same week this happened: Mistake sends raw sewage into Ravenna Creek.

The impression is: Homeless people are dirtier than the rest of us. They create more garbage, and their "effluent" is stinkier.

Is anyone paying attention?

I don't think Kinnear Park is a great place to live. I'm fine with cleaning up the parks. Just tell me what I'm supposed to do at Operation Nightwatch.

We served something like 180 homeless men and women last night. Came close to turning people away. The City doesn't want more shelter. They want to preserve the rights of wealthy people to get to the freeway without impediment on Mercer Street. They want to build and maintain a billion dollars worth of stadia (no exaggeration). Meanwhile, McDonald's workers are commuting from Maple Valley. Granite Falls is the new Edmonds.

Just give us some options. Your s--- stinks just as bad as those living in Kinnear, but you've got the luxury of a publicly supported sewer system to haul it away for you.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 23, 2008

Every Night, a New Dubious Record

I came back from the bars last night -- it was 11:45, there were still four women in our shelter dispatch center; two looked like candidates for a nursing home. They could barely walk. Sick enough to require attention, but not sick enough for our messed up health care system.

These two struggled to simply get out the door and to the bus stop. The survival plan for the night was to ride the Metro 174 bus all night. Apparently you can get a transfer that is good all night.

219 served. 18 women turned away into the night with just a blanket. 24 men with no place to go. This is nuts.

God help us. Rick


On the edge of reality
my new homeless friend
describes, in great detail,
his broken down body,
following a motorcycle crash:
"Pins here and here,
A metal rod there,
a plate in the back of my head
and a hole in my gut."

His great love was shattered, too,
but not to worry;
he wears the Harley logo, still,
emblazoned on his jacket
and his chest
(he lifts his shirt
to prove the point).
He holds the memory of the bike
in his heart
along with the memory of
two daughters missing
after a seperate,
chaotic crash
of family.

They require no tattoo.


Labels: ,

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Homeless Flicks

The first movie is playing as a part of Seattle International Film Festival, June 1 or June 3. Check their schedule here. I'm going on Tuesday night, so feel free to join me.

This one has been recommended by a friend, but I can't find anything but this trailer, and I'm nervous about bitTorrent.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Know a good joke?

I need a little levity. Lorri lost her job Monday, then had her purse stolen, didn't figure out it was missing until this morning, along with house & car keys. Yuck. Spent tonight changing out the locks on the doors and stopping cards, etc. Really, what hurts is that both her prescription glasses -- brand new -- were taken too.

But we had one of those moments, realizing the person who did it was way worse off with our stuff than we are without it, that really nothing can be taken from us that really matters.

When Jacob was small and we were fighting, he interrupted us to say "When Dad's dead and when Mom's dead, whatever you're fighting about won't be as important as being hit in the head by the swing at the Learning Tree (Montessori School, which had happened to him that day -- so he must have been all of four -- so insightful!)

I think too, when I'm feel all sorry for myself, how I've got a roof over my head and know I'm loved.

OK, thanks for letting me spout.


Mr. Bean

Maybe I should quit reading at night.

I'm currently reading (out loud) two books -- the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and Bill Spiedel's Sons of the Profits.

It leads to some really weird dreams.

If you have only seen the Oz movie, you are missing something. If nothing else, you'll have a new appreciation for the flick that we've all seen probably 20 times, or more. It was a huge event when I was a kid; I associate it with Halloween (it was the witch, right). The terror of Margaret Hamilton's cackle. Watching her years later as a guest on the Mike Douglas Show, and of course, they made her cackle there too -- 30 years later that's what she was known for. In real life she was a single parent, newly divorced when she took the role that would make her famous. Like many, she was simply in a struggle to survive. Wonder what she thought when she was offered the role. You probably didn't know she was burned so badly in the scene where she is melted, that she was home for six weeks, and refused to work with fire for the rest of filming.

And you should not be allowed to live in Seattle without reading something by Bill Spiedel. He's the guy that launched the Underground Tour. Nothing really has changed in 140 years. Seattle is about creating wealth for the ruthless. Henry Yesler, case in point. It is said when he died, the nicest thing the reporters could get people to say about him was "No comment." Quite the legacy.

But things haven't changed, have they? The poor move to the woods, just like the old days.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Squirrel Sweeps

Spring has arrived, and those blasted squirrels are back in the yard, eating flower shoots, digging up bulbs, and making a mess of things.
This will be the 29th year that I've trapped squirrels in a live trap. A little dab of peanut butter is all the bait you need. Squirrels are horribly addicted to the stuff. They don't even realize they are trapped until the peanut butter is gone and they look up. "What the?" and then they start running back and forth, trying to ramrod their way out. They need a Peanut Butter Anonymous sponsor.
I haul them far away. "We don't want your kind here!" I growl mayorally. "This is really for their own good, and we are putting resources into ensuring that the squirrels won't have to come back into the yard. In fact, we have established two nesting areas in someone else's neighborhood for the 2,631 squirrels counted over the winter."
See, squirrels are bad for a residential neighborhood. They depress housing prices, create a mess. They are stinky. As crazy as it seems, some of the neighbors are actually feeding squirrels. But we know if you start caring for squirrels, they'll just keep hanging out and creating more of a nuisance.


Friday, May 09, 2008

"God is so Damn Sneaky"

Sermon title? Nope. The exclamation of an Anglican hooker when she saw Father Kim and I in the bar.

I was about 2 feet inside the door of another unnamed tavern when one of the customers dropped a HUGE "F-Bomb."

If you don't know what that is, email me, or ask your granddaughter.

OK, this is the guy who goes to the conservative Lutheran church, the guy who's always trying to engage me with discussions about the difference between a cross and a crucifix (and what he wants to know, do they both work on vampires?)

That whole end of the bar is getting louder and louder. It's politics and alcohol. Something must give. The Jaeger girls and several buxom customers have created a maelstrom of testosterone.

Meanwhile downtown: ran into Bruce B, really happy to see each other. Bruce and I are on the corner, recalling old fights at Nightwatch from a dozen years ago. A guy interrupts, looking for bus fare to Northgate -- so he said. Bruce, 15 years homeless (and looks it) whips out two bucks and gives it to him. Later, Bruce tells me "I'd rather have him rip me off than you."

Now, the guy needing bus fare looks like a 40 year old business guy, the sort of guy who would work in a lab, or an insurance office. Neat, trim, decent clothes. He takes the two bucks from the homeless guy who has been on the street for 15 years. What?

Twenty minutes later, the middle-aged insurance sales guy is walking down the street at Third and Bell, looking for all the world like he finally found his drug connection. Was I surprised?

Nope. Maybe I've been doing this too long.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Disaster preparations

Partly because we need to do this, and partly because someone is giving us $$$ to do this, Operation Nightwatch is developing a disaster plan.

It's kind of weird, because you could argue that we are involved with disaster on a daily basis -- people needing the most basic things -- food, shelter, clean socks, a hat, knit by a little old lady while watching "Days of Our Lives."

But what if we had to take care of the 180 homeless people for three days. I mean, the City of Seattle plans don't really help our weird and unique situation.

We're going to figure out what to do if we can't occupy our building, we're going to start storing drinking water, and probably have to figure out no-cook food items to keep on hand.

I mean, we have to put "do not touch" on the supplies that we set aside for a disaster, because the volunteers will want to serve it as soon as they see it. That's what we do, take care of people living the daily disaster.

So, you want to help -- check out the city resources, and get your own preparations going, so you have the ability to help your neighbors when the Big One hits. God, preserve us.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Apesma's Lament: For Those with Eyes To See

Apesma's Lament: For Those with Eyes To See

I recommend Tim Harris' blog, much more entertaining than mine, although I guess I am one to always see Hope close at hand, even when really things are dismal. Maybe that's why I do what I do, but then, I'm glad Tim is in this community and I count him as a friend. F Bombs and all.