There are a few men who permanently sleep on the streets by the church where I work in Detroit. Most of them are at different stages of mental un-soundness; whether they are unstable from birth defect, personal trauma (may it be known–many of the street-folk once served in our military. Disheartening.), substance abuse…or any mixture of the above.
I’ll change his name, but there’s a man named “Bill” who sits on an industrial pipe next to my church for most of the day, for most of the days.
Sometimes he’s OK…whatever that means for a man who lives on the street. I guess what I mean is “sometimes he seems to be in control of himself.” Sometimes, though, he rages at the world and threatens passerby and himself and runs into traffic without looking.
(There are no easy answers in Detroit, it seems.)
This morning Bill burst into the little glass foyer where I work, his eyes hectic.
I greeted him, and asked him what he was up to.
“I’M ORGANIZING MY BOOK!” he shouted at me. He said the words indignantly, as if any moron (like me) should know just by looking that he was “organizing his book.”
Bill likes to collect pamphlets and old magazines from people. If the Jehovah Witnesses stop by, Bill gathers a bunch of Watchtower magazines. If a pizza place is passing out coupons, he will assuredly take a stack for the pizzas he will never buy.
It looked like he had a TIME magazine, maybe an HOUR magazine, and a collection of loose papers–glossy and matte both. These he started meticulously placing next to each other, throughout the pages of the magazines.
In time he finished his task, and turned to me.
“IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO FOR YOU TODAY?” he said, loudly yelling each slurred word.
I hadn’t realized that his book-organization was undertaken with me in mind, so I said, “Um, no. But! Thanks for helping out.”
“You’re welcome,” he said, hastily, and exited quickly.
Such is Monday.
Such is Detroit.
Enjoy them both, kids.