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, May 25, 2010

Sorry, Neighbor

This is a public apology to one of the neighbors of Operation Nightwatch.

You called me at 8:45 on Sunday night, to complain about a particular homeless guy who has been lurking around your building, where you live and work. He's startled you in the stairway, uses the yard as a latrine, and has been generally bothering you. It was perfectly right for you to call me.

I was pretty snippy. Down right rude. I was also doubtful that he was one of "ours." See, most of the homeless people we serve are intent on getting to shelter downtown. They don't hang out in the neighborhood during the day. If we see them, we warn them and then we send them away - barring them from receiving services from us. But I was wrong. He was a Nightwatch patron.

Please forgive me.

One of our workers had already confronted him that night. He was at the bus stop and told us he was waiting for the bus. After your call, we went back to the bus stop - security and supervisor. They told the offender he was barred. So he no longer belongs to us.

He's profoundly mentally ill. We had problems in the past, getting him off the streets for the night. He didn't understand the most basic information. His mental illness is complicated by language and cultural barriers. I guess he's no longer our problem.

What happens now?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big "BOB", not so big Bob

From Santa Monica: "The criminal complaint filed Monday accused Cruz, 48, of trying to hire David Carrington and David Walters -- homeless men who go by the street names Little Dave and Big Dave -- to murder Jennifer Campbell. It was not immediately clear which was Little Dave and which was Big Dave."

This story is funny/sad for so many reasons.

First, why would you hire homeless guys to put a hit on your wife? Those are the charges against Juan-Carlos Cruz, former celebrity chef. Did he buy into the stereotype of "homeless guys = thugs?" Doesn't he know that most homeless folks do the Right Thing.

Second, the reporter says it was not immediately clear who was Little Bob, and who was Big Bob. I'm just betting if you meet them together, you're gonna know. Either that, or they both should change to Medium Bob.

The story unravels when the cops bust Big Dave (or was it Little Dave?) for the crime of loitering. That means he was standing around and bothering someone. He said something sensible to the cops, like, "You guys should leave me alone, but get on this D-list celebrity for trying to hire me to murder his wife." Then Little Dave chips in, "Me too!"

Anyway, the cops put Big & Little Bobs into a cheap room, supplied them with some pizza and beer. And the chef is arrested.

Not doing the crime pays. Most homeless people got that.