Friday, November 2, 2007

Note to God: "Dude, I GET it, alright?"

Tonight Charlie Brown and I took the kids out to dinner in the North end of town. Afterwards, we dropped in at our local sporting goods store since Charlie Brown is going duck hunting in the morning and he needed to purchase his license for said excursion.

As we were leaving, this guy, about my age, asks us, "What kinda place is this?"

Naively, we stopped and answered him. It was just a hook...He approached closer as we talked about the wares inside.

"So dude, I really need a ride to TownJustNorthOfUs - can you help me out?"

Charlie Brown explained that we were going south, that it really was out of our way. Barring that, we didn't have any room in the car, what with the kids' carseats in the back.

"I'm totally stranded, man. I ain't got no place to go."

Charlie Brown looked at me, "Well, it may be your lucky night then - my wife has worked with the homeless and knows all the resources in the area."

I then suggested we get him over to the Mission. He was reluctant. He pulled out a cheap drill from under his sweatshirt and said, "If you wanted to buy this, I could go over to the motel there and spend the night out of the cold."

Charlie Brown went and put the kids in their seats in the car while I talked with the guy.

"Look, I know you're in a tight spot, but let's think about this, okay?" He nodded. "I'm a big picture kind of girl...and what comes to mind for me, is if we help you out with a motel room, you're gonna be alright for tonight, but what's your outlook going to be longterm? You might take your sobriety one day at a time, but you can't with this, not if I have anything to say about it."

He shrugged. "It's fuckin' cold out," he began. "I was staying at LocalWorkCampSobrietyProgram, and my grandma died, so I left to go to Kansas City for the funeral. I just got back in town tonight."

"And you slipped, huh?" I asked, without judgment. It happens. To all of us in some form.

"Yeah, shit, I ain't gonna lie - if I were to walk into the Mission, I'd probably blow about a .35 - they'd send me straight to RegionalDetox (45minutes SW of here)."

Finishing his thoughts, I added, "And being discharged from a detox wouldn't exactly be grounds for LocalWorkCampSobrietyProgram to welcome you back with open arms."

He was shivering. It was getting cool, especially considering at .35 his blood would be pretty thin, making his core temp drop, and his clothes were insufficient at best.

My mind was racing.

You help him, and you become a mark, Heather.

Yeah, but he's got absolutely no viable option - and if something were to happen to him, could you live with knowing that he asked you for help?

Make sure you're not totally being careful

But even heavier on my heart was this...

Earlier this month, I'd e-mailed the man who is heading up the inclement weather shelter, after the breathalyzer difference of opinion, sharing a couple of stories, adding:

I hope that you understand that my personal convictions are just that, personal, and they match the way I live my life outside of the office. However, as a public servant, I am ethically bound to do the most good that I can for the most people that I can – which can sometimes marginalize the very people you and I have a soft spot for. It does get complicated, to be sure, – but I hope that by sharing myself with you today you understand a little more than what meets the eye.

I knew that this was another opportunity to walk that talk.

Right about then, Charlie Brown came back to talk with us.

Something he'd said wasn't jiving...I followed up on something that was bugging me..."So wait a minute, you originally asked for a ride to TownJustNorthOfUs - what were you going to do there - LocalWorkCampSobrietyProgram, wouldn't take you in like this."

Sheepishly, "I'm sorry...I kinda gave you a little BS there...I don't know..."

Sternly, "Well, I tell you what, I'm pretty street wise and quick to catch on to people trying to play me, and you'd be best served by avoiding bullshit with me - I don't play that way, you hear?"

Charlie Brown backed me, "Dude, she has a frickin' BS radar, she's BS proof. I don't know how she does it; it pisses me off at times - but she's right, better be to dead honest with her."

I talked some more, thinking out loud. "Look, this is against my better judgment, but we'll get you a room for tonight only. I'm gonna follow up with you in the morning - and we're gonna figure out what your game plan is gonna be long term, alright?"

He nodded emphatically, and then he tried to give me the drill, a sign that he had some desire to contribute to helping himself.

I laughed, and said, "Dude, he's a master mechanic," nodding to Charlie Brown, "he's got more power tools than we need already. Keep it for the next guy."

He walked across the street while we drove over there.

As we waited to check him in, I told him I would be talking to him in the morning - that I would call around and see what kind of help we could get him. I then told him to be smart, and stay clear of trouble for the night.

He inquired of me, "You're a real Christian sister, ain't you?" with eyes somewhat incredulous.

I smiled, "Hell yes, I am." Then my eyes narrowed and got serious, "But you go and mess this up, and it's gonna piss me off royally. You don't want that."

He looked a little scared, and scrambled to say, "No ma'am."

It was almost like a modern day script for Jesus and the woman at the well, lol. Except, that would make me Christ, and I so am not.

"Just so we're clear, I'm not an enabler. This is a one-time deal, after which you have a choice; stay off the booze and be able to get a leg up by staying in the shelter, or go get something to drink and you best be prepared to finagle clothes and gear to stay outside with."

I gave him my number, and I grabbed the motel's along with his room number, asked the woman when checkout was, and told him I'd be in touch.

I called LocalWorkCampSobrietyProgram and left a message with the young man's name and my involvement - asking for a return call in the morning. I placed a few calls into other places that I know with resources. Finally, I asked for prayers - cuz, you see it's been awhile since I've been in the direct services field, so I'm a bit rusty - and then I went and got it all personalized paying for his could prove to get complicated, thus I need Divine Intervention.

But, uh, not like He hasn't been providing it all along. Geeze, but I would have to have an awfully thick skull to not connect His dots that He's been putting in my path. Even when I called the church in Loveland that is helping, the lead guy was like, "How in the world do people know to come to you?"

They don't.

And I don't know that they're coming my way until I'm in the thick of it.

But God sure seems to pair us up frequently, eh?

So, Big Guy, I get it that this is my work. Just help me do a worthy job, ok? Oh, and thanks for allowing my family to be in on this one. It sure helps me in providing "object lessons" for the kiddos.


  1. Very good. I almost never run into people who need help, and I tend to drive right past the people standing at the corner of Wal-Mart with their cardboard signs. I don't think tossing $5 out the window at them is very helpful, cuz that will easily buy two forties or some Mad Dog.

    Oh, well I did see lots of homeless in Houston, and even saw a very pissed off cop arrest a homeless man for no reason.

    This stuff is totally the "sheep and the goats" passage I love from Matthew. I think to help the homeless it takes time and energy, like what you are doing.

    For me, my calling is the nursing. I am very proud of your obeying God in this area.

    Also, that is some impressive alcoholism to drink to .35 in a one day binge without killing yourself! Usually a binge has to build slowly over weeks to hit a BAC that high (or much higher) without autonomic nervous system shutdown!

  2. Now the post above makes MUCH more sense... still praying!