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, October 10, 2014

Big Stick

Our landlord came into the office this afternoon. "There's a homeless guy we need you to check out. He's  hanging out in front of the building."

OK. I'm not that excited. Usually, the random homeless guy in the neighborhood is cooling off from downtown. Most of the neighborhood homeless guys aren't Nightwatch guests -- because Nightwatch guests know if we catch them in the neighborhood before we open, we won't help them. We open at 9:00 p.m. Show up at 9:00 p.m.

When the random homeless person wanders up from downtown and spends the night in a doorway, I try to gently let them know it's hurting our ability to help homeless people. I quietly and politely ask them to move. It usually works.

So, today I go check out the person. Wow. He's big. He's carrying a seven-foot long wooden pole, with a sharp piece of metal duct-taped to the end. He's standing in the middle of the sidewalk, glowering, menacing, and pounding the end of his pike into the concrete with force. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. And muttering to himself.

Back in my office, I marshal my resources. Outreach phone numbers, police back-door phone numbers. I look out the window. He's walking away. Stopping at Boren for traffic to clear. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk, his stick reverberating.

Keep him -- and the community -- safe, Lord. A homeless guy with a seven foot long pike is not going to have an easy night.

There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.