Note: I feel I need to be specific about race, age, nationality, and gender when I describe people who are in the journal. My intention is not to be offensive. My intention is the truth–like a movie script that describes the character except these people are real.
One year ago, I was living at the Paladin in Rothville–a safe and sober house that holds only men. My room had 10 men. Types of Housing Defined There was a very strong Black person with a good attitude, one Portuguese man who is a master cook, two Latinos who were teaching me Spanish, one Black vet with a positive family background, one mentally ill white guy with a drooling problem and a wealthy family, two white guys in their twenties (20s), one white father of one (his son lived in the other room), and me. See The Real People you Read About for detailed descriptions of these individuals.
A major objective of the system of shelters and housing is to help people get on their feet. It is a very good program that has been successful. I do know that many of the people working at the headquarters have their hearts in the right place. Unfortunately, you discover a portion of the residents are using the system day-by-day. The two white guys (Lu and Gary) in their 20s were these kind of people. The way they supported extra day-to-day living expenses, as well as their drug habit, was to sell themselves in the neighboring town. The conversations I heard were $30 to $50 an act. It became apparent when I put things together (I was a newbie, in his 50s), what the management and residents already knew. The two singled me out. If a bed could be opened, a partner of theirs could replace me. The best way to make this happen would be to make me look disruptive.
Note: Readers, what if the Newbie is just 18 and has no clue?? At another shelter in Leoardville, the mat on the floor was the bed to fight for! In this event, I lost the battle and I did not even know what happened till it was too late. Now, you will know what I did not.
At this time, I still had use of my legs, and I was sober and happy. I was working two jobs and had over $2000 in the bank. The two jobs were selling jewelry at the mall and working security. I would work 18 hours a day, come back to the house, the Portuguese resident would have dinner ready for me, and then I would go to sleep. By the third week, Lu started a fight with me. Ruff and Melvin broke it up. The fourth week, Lu disappeared. The fifth and last week, Gary challenged me to a fight outside. The reality of it was that all I had to do was use what I knew from my martial arts training: arc my left foot while on the ball of my foot, step over that foot with my right leg, turn my back, and then with the left foot throw a power back kick to the chest. But NOT me–I took the high ground. I called management from the next room, told the story, got dressed in my uniform and went to work. Six hours later I got back to the house at 12:15 am. I was immediately kicked out by the manager. I had to leave with what I was wearing. Unfortunately, that night New England was having a Noreaster rain storm.
The Rothville police stopped me for questioning. Wet and wearing my uniform, I told them the truth. The police asked, “Are you going to hurt yourself? Are you going to hurt someone else?” My answers were NO and NO. The police responded, “Well, we can not do anything!” I said, “Then shoot me.” The police said, “That is what we needed.” I was taken to Rothville hospital for observation on the third floor which had caring doctors and standoffish staff.
I was released 5 days later and drove back to the Paladin to get my belongings. Carlos and Ruff had saved my clothes and shoes (except for my $120 Docksiders). My meds, locked up by management, were missing. While I was leaving, Gary came out of the room with my favorite blue dress shirt (worth $150). My friend, Ruff, the very strong Black guy with a good religious attitude, was standing behind him and pressured Gary to give back my shirt!! I had been 2 weeks away from being able to afford my own room. I lost all my savings by renting a room at a no-tell motel in Amnything. I started sleeping in my car, washing at McDonald’s, and changing in the car. Depression raised its ugly head, and I started using alcohol as a sleeping and pain aid.
Note: Reader, who were the good guys? The police got me out of the storm and safe. Did the system do their job or could it have been handled better? Please note that most of the other residents were trying to make it, and they did the right thing. In other words, most of the residents are good American citizens who can distinguish between right and wrong.
Eight months later, I came back to Rothville to settle down. I ran into Tim from the Paladin and we renewed our friendship. I learned that one of the white 20s guys was arrested for prostitution. The other white 20s guy left the house and was arrested for a previous attempted murder warrant. So, was he hiding in the house? The comment from my friend was that he got 10 years.