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.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The cruelest joke

Two old men wandered in to Nightwatch. One guy was probably 68. The other looked to be 80. Maybe it was the wheelchair. I hear it adds years. His 80-year-old-foot stuck straight out, a new cast from toe to knee.

"He's a veteran," the younger friend said. Their fear and doubt was palpable. Around them, the usual Nightwatch crowd was swirling about, eating, asking for socks, anxious. 167 bodies served this night.

This is where we are as a society. An 80-year-old vet with a broken foot, in a wheelchair, has no place to go on a cold wet Seattle night. Even Nightwatch had nothing to offer. He can't get onto a mat on the floor by himself.

The number 36 bus is just two blocks away. The VA Hospital is probably their only refuge. They take a few bus tickets and head out the door. I feel sick.

It is 10:00 pm. Nightwatch will end up giving out blankets to a dozen guys tonight. No place to go. And April 1 the winter shelter at the King County building will close until next October.

No fooling. The cruelest joke.


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