Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I'm Tired

There's a guy at the mission. I think his name is Greg, but we call him "dreadlocks", because he has them. He is the most vile human being I know. I was taught, from an early age, to treat everyone the same. It doesn't matter what color or ethic background one is, we are all the same. Another motto I have lived be is that I'll be your best friend but don't cross me.

At the mission, we have chapel every night. We sing, pray, and have a sermon. There are guys in there who will sing with the best of them. But, when they get to the sleeping room, they curse and disrupt others.

Greg is the worst. His vocabulary is very limited by the words coming out of his mouth. You've heard the expression "cuss like a sailor"? He could out do a sailor. He starts at 8pm and goes until 10:30 nonstop, and then he starts back at 4am, despite us not having to get up until 5:30. As he yells and curses, it draws others into the fray.

And the worst part is no one will do anything about it. We complain, but they let him stay. He is very disruptive, even during meals. I wish I could say something, but he would hurt me. Maybe not physically, but psychologically and emotionally. At my fragile state, that might not be too good. He is probably suffering from something, too. We just need to know what it is, and take care of it. Meanwhile, no one can sleep, and people wonder shy I fall asleep in the library.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Observations

If some people are heavy snorers, others are going to cough to try and wake them up. Meanwhile, those of us who don't snore or cough can't sleep for all the snoring and the coughing.

For a library, where you are supposed to be quiet, there sure is a lot of talking. I guess they didn't get the memo.

Walking is good for the soul but not for the sole.

Why do some people use profanity like every other word? But, sing gospel songs in chapel. Why do some people put on a religious show but are vile behind closed doors?

My friend Del and I took an impromptu tour of the Governor's mansion. We just got to see the first floor. I've been upstairs before, but with all the current scandals, I wondered if it is now the same as not seeing the second floor of Graceland.

Is there such a thing as a fictional autobiography? A book written by the person to put them in a better light than they may be. Traci Lords comes to mind.

My Walk

Last week, I told somebody about my dire financial need, and how I needed $130 to pay two bills--my phone bill that is my lifeline, and my storage bill where my stuff is kept. There was no way I could pay them. So, Sunday I got an anonymous gift, and I could pay my bills.

So, yesterday, very early, I took the bus out Bluff Road to the storage facility. It was a cool, crisp morning. I got a jacket and shirt from storage and paid my bill. Then, I looked at my bus map and realized it didn't come back by my stop going back to town, so I had to hike two miles to the nearest bus stop. I went through grass and mud, as there wasn't much in the way of sidewalks, and I had to dodge the traffic, since it was the morning rush hour. I made it to the stop and didn't have to wait long for the bus, but it does seem to me that they should run the going and coming on the same route. But, with all of the walking I have done over the last several weeks, two miles was a piece of cake. But, do you know the difference between Columbia and Greenville? In Greenville, somebody would have stopped and offered me a ride. Not in Columbia.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Anniversary

10 years ago this week, my father was very sick. I had seen him a few days earlier, and he seemed fine, although he had difficulty breathing and walking because of his angina. A few days later, he was admitted to the hospital with congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Due to his situation, he lapsed into a coma that was perpetuated by drugs. On September 28th, my brother and I went to Laurens to meet with heart doctor, and to visit Daddy in the hospital. Daddy was in the coma. You could squeeze his big toe, and he would react, but a machine was helping him breathe. My brother is a baseball fan, so he asked the doctor that if it was the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two strikes against him, would Daddy get a hit and win the game? The doctor replied that he had 2 1/2 strikes against him, and then he said that if Daddy were to awake from the coma, he wouldn't know who we were, because his brain fuction was pretty much gone.

So, we left the hospital and drove across Laurens to the nursing home to tell Mother. She would have to make the decision how long to keep him alive. When we told her everything, she whispered "Let him go". My brother and I went back to the hospital and told the doctor what Mother had said. We said our goodbyes to Daddy and left to go back to Columbia. About the time we got home, there was a call from the hospital that Daddy had died. He had not hung on too long after being disconnected from the machines. He had not wanted to live off of machines anyway.

One thing he had done was to plan out his funeral and burial plans, as well as his obituary. So, my brother fixed the obituary, and my job was to call people. I first called the funeral participants and told them. Then, I called the family. And then, some close friends. Daddy was real big on organizing things, so it was a breeze to carry out his wishes. I suggest that everyone plan out that stuff, because your family will be upset, and anything to ease the pain is good.

The funeral went off without a hitch, and Daddy was buried in Greenwood on October 1st, near his beloved mother and father. Mouth would join him five years later, and there is a place for me next to Mother one day. I miss my parents. Daddy for his counsel, even though we fought a lot, and Mother for her humor and love. Thanks, guys.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Observations

Why do security guards try to act like they want to blend in with their surroundings? Either they have an earpiece or a walkie-talkie or a gun. They try not to be obvious, but sometimes they just can't help it. That's why I like watching the Secret Service around the President. It is very interesting to watch them operate.

My Mother and her brothers suffered from macular degeneration, which is a disease of the eye. I don't think I am there yet, but I probably have a cateract or two. If I had health insurance, I would get my eyes fixed. Maybe one day before I go blind.

They say the recession is over, and the economy is coming back. If that's the case, how come I can't get hired? Just wondering.

Not Bitter

Anybody that knows me may find this statement to be a lie, but here goes anyway. I'm not bitter. I'm not bitter about my living situation. I'm not bitter about my lack of finances. I'm not bitter about not having a job. I'm not bitter about my lack of a love life. I'm not bitter about my lot in life. It is just the cards we are dealt. Some are dealt four of a kind. Others have a full house. Still others have a straight or three of a kind. I have been dealt a pair of deuces. Now, if deuces were wild, I might be able to do something with them, but if we are playing nothing is wild, then my pair may not take the pot. I've seen a pair of deuces win it all, but it is very rare. So, I figure there is an outside chance that I could take the pot, if you believe. I used to be bitter about many things--family, churches, friends, and life in general. I was dwelling on "Why me?" But now, I have released all of that to God, and I know that He will get me through this and will take me to where I need to go. Proverbs 3:5-6. Look it up.

Have Fun

Two words that I use frequently as a substitute for goodbye. "Have Fun". I have a lot of friends that are having fun today and tonight. It may be fleeting, but they will feel good anyways. I have forgotten how to have fun. No one to have fun with. When I tell someone to have fun, it is my form of giving. But, when I need someone to give to me, fun or otherwise, no one does. Too many excuses. I have told some to have fun, and they look a little surprused, because they are not sure what I mean, but then a smile comes on their face, as if they think of a way to have fun. So, I made someone smile and have a briefly better day. In that vein, have fun and have some for me, too.

Don't Belong

I don't belong in a homeless shelter. Actually, no one needs to be in a homeless shelter. In a perfect world, there would be no homeless. Everyone would be taken care of, one way or another. I have begged some people to take care of me with no luck. I'm sure they have their reasons. I can be a productive member of socieity if given the chance. After all, I was before. There are guys in the homeless shelter who are thugs. Maybe they should be there. But, there are those of us with a higher than average IQ, and we are there for a variety of reasons that hopefully will be relieved soon. So, if you are reading this and live in Columbia (or its environs) and have an extra room, please let me know at Please help me and have a blessed day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Observations

If you spend any time in the library, you'll see the strangest sort of characters on this planet. From a guy who talks to himself to a kid who laughs out loud for no reason to people sleeping while pretending to be reading to babies crying and the mothers who don't try and shut them up.

I like late Summer afternoons in the park, despite now it is early Fall. You wouldn't know it by the temperature. Yesterday, a duck was eating. I saw the duck today, so he survived being dinner last night for the homeless who stay in the park. Today, there were two girls hanging out and taking a break from a city that is just a block away. I went to the park to take a nap, since I had been nodding off at the library, but the girls across from me kept me awake in the park.

And the question of the day is...why can't the cleaners (yes, the one without same-day service) get my order so terribly wrong? I took a pair of pants in there yesterday and told them I needed them today. So, when I went to pick them up, they brought out a "Superfly" coat with a big plaid design and big buttons. When I told the woman that it wasn't mine, she insisted that it was, because it had my name on it. They found my pants, and I let them keep the coat. It won't be Halloween for another month or so.

Library Sleeping

I have been in the public library and seen people sleeping. I've had mixed emotions about it from disgust to pity. But, now that I am homeless, it has struck me, too. Falling asleep at the library. The chairs are too comfy. So, it is their fault. And, I also blame it on losing sleep at the shelter. In a perfect world, I could get around nine hours of sleep on a perfect night, but that won't happen as long as those guys insist on being loud. The library doesn't like you sleeping in there. I don't blame them, but there just isn't anywhere I can go to take a nap. Oh well.

Acid Flashback

Having never done LSD (as far as you know), I wouldn't know about flashbacks (as far as you know). I might have read about them in a book. So, a friend yesterday invited me to the soup kitchen for lunch, and I went. After we sat down to eat, a woman stood up and started "singing" gospel music. It might have been good if she could sing or knew the words, but she didn't do either. She yelled it at a high pitched wail. Doesn't everyone know the first verse of "Amazing Grace"? "Wretch like me" rhymes with "But now I see". Ya think? She made up her own words that didn't rhyme. Then, she made another mistake by inviting another woman to sing harmony with her. Since she didn't know the words, the one singing harmony couldn't do that either. When we got outside, I asked my friend if that really happened, or did I dream it? He said it was real, so no acid flashback this time (as far as you know).

Hot Bath

Being in the homeless shelter, there are some things I truly miss. Things that most people take for granted. For example, there is no TV. I miss the nightly news. My favorite show is NCIS. It has started with new episodes, but I can't see them right now. Not even online, because we can't have laptops either. And, I can't watch the shows on the computers in the library, because I need headphones. Another thing I miss is music. No radios. I have to sit outside of a coffee shop on Main Street, where they play the oldies radio station. And, probably the biggest that I miss is a hot bath. I'm talking about a tub, where I can soak. A tub bath is great, because you can soak and think about your upcoming day or just the world in general. I have heard stories of people in the shelter going to a hospital just so they can have a decent bed and bath, as well as cable TV. It might be something to think about. Meanwhile, if you'll let me have a decent bath, I would appreciate it. Just for a couple of hours.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

More Observations

If you are crazy, you should not be in a homeless shelter. Recently, we had a music group who needed some chairs. So, a few of the guys had to stand. A crazy man yelled at a guy, because he was standing too close. The staff didin't see the altercation, but I don't think they would have done anything anyway.

Why does the Greenville library have more public computers to use than the Columbia library? I'm writing on one now. I wish I had my laptop.

And speaking of Greenville, why are most of the museums free, when most of the museums in Columbia cost something? If you want tourists, say something is free. In just thinking through the tourist attractions, I think the State House is about it, even though it is closed on weekends, and you have to go through security. Then, there are the cemeteries, but you have to avoid the ants. Then, there are the churches, but some of them are locked. I guess walking is free, but they have people to tell you to move along, if you stay too long in one place. Oh, and a couple of museums are free one day out of the week or month, if you can remember.

More Observations

If a new city bus driver is going on her first route, please tell her what her route is. She went to the right initial pickup point, but someone told her she was wrong, so all of us that got on took a side trip around a block that we weren't supposed to. Then, she didn't know how the doors worked. Then, we made frequent stops. Then, a man in a wheelchair had a hard time getting on, because she didn't know how to use the ramp. The trip should have taken 20 minutes, but this trip took 45 minutes.

Speaking of buses, for a city this big, there needs to be more routes and more buses. There are too many transfers. I know the bus system is on shaky ground, but if this city wants to attract more businesses, they should think about a first-class bus system or light rail. And, whatever happened to the tram that used to run down Main Street? I know most of the stores are gone, but it could connect businesses with restaurants or tourists from hotels to museums. Just a thought.

When going into a fast-food eatery, they ask you is it for here or to go. Why is it that at one particular restaurant, I say it is for here, and she always hits to go? Does she want me to eat there? I think it is discrimination, because they have trays. They just don't want me to use one.

I got kicked out of Macy's yesterday, because I was visiting friends and not buying anything. With all the money I made for them in the past, you would think they would welcome me with open arms. But, Macy's is not about logic. Never has been. I've applied several times in the past year for jobs there. I'm told that I'm not qualified. 30 years of retail experience in all aspects of the job, and I'm not qualified? Kinda makes you wonder.

And, the biggest question for today is...why do some people say they are my friend but yet don't respond to my emails or phone calls? Friends are very precious to me, especially if you have read anything about my time growing up. No reaching out there to me.

And another big question for today is...when one enters the homeless shelter, you have to sign a paper saying you are a professing Christian. So, there is a lot of profanity in there. You are told if you use profanity in there, it is grounds for dismissal. At 4:10 this morning, some guys in the sleep room decided to wake everyone else up to have a conversation. Wake up time is 5:30am. When one told them to be quiet, they mocked him. So, when others complained to the managers, nothing was done. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of Christianity some people profess. I went to seminary and a lot of Sunday School classes. And, I just don't remember the Bible talking that is a requirement for Christians to be rude and crude. Maybe, it is in a different version, that I am not aware of.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Music Artists

There are many artists that I like other than The Beatles or related bands. I know some people that only listen to that music, and that's fine, but there's more music out there to be more well-rounded, so here is a partial list in no particular order:

The Blues Brothers, David Bowie, Queen, Suzi Quatro, Chicago, Crosby Stills & Nash, Bruce Springsteen, Genesis, Eric Clapton, BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Allman Brothers, Wet Willie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Donovan, Blood Sweat & Tears, Jefferson Airplane, Kiss, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Billy Preston, KC & The Sunshine Band, Barry Mainlow, Willie Nelson, Delbert McClinton, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Joe Walsh, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Donna Summer, Prince, Elvis Presley, The Monkees, Badfinger, Richie Havens, Johnny Winter, Canned Heat, Goose Creek Symphony, John Mellencamp, Carole King, Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer, Grand Funk, Cream, Three Dog Night, George Thorogood, Todd Rundgren, The Supremes, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, The Miracles, James Brown, Elton John, ZZ Top, U2, The Corrs, The Byrds, America, Phil Collins, Frank Sinatra, The Lettermen, The Kingston Trio, The Beach Boys, Neil Young, Ohio Players, Santana, Joe Cocker, The Band, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Gladys Knight, Albert King, Tom Jones, The Doors, The Clash, Electric Light Orchestra, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Fleetwood Mac, Charlotte Church, James Taylor, Boz Scaggs, Roger McGuinn, The Pointer Sisters, Abba, Stevie Wonder, Sly & The Family Stone, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, George Benson, Edwin Starr, Country Joe & The Fish, John Mayall, Jeff Beck, Otis Redding, Rod Stewart, Ricky Skaggs, The Cobbwebs, Isaac Hayes, Peter Frampton, T. Rex, Herman's Hermits, KBC Band, Burt Bacharach, Tom Petty, Barry White, Van Halen, Yes, The Bee Gees...

And that's just for starters. So, download some of these artists, especially if you are not familiar with them. You may be pleasantly surprised. Of course, there is always John, Paul, George, Ringo, and Yoko, but that's another story for another day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Aware Care

And then there was one. I have been trying not to get absorbed in self-pity, but I see many things on the street. For one, most folks don't care if you live or if you die. They just want to get where they are going, and if that means they need to shove you out of the way, they will. Also, some people will say that they are praying for you. I know they mean well, but often times their prayers are not backed up by actions. Where in the Bible does it say that we must only pray for others? It doesn't. It says that we must help the helpless. Take care of those unable to take care of themselves. In other words, actions speak louder than words. I know there are those unable to do much, except pray. I appreciate those people praying for me. But, it is those folks who have much, who are not willing to help, and those are the ones I feel are just blowing me off. If I were to die today, how would they feel? Would they wish they could have done more? No, I don't think so. They would say I was alone, or wonder why no one would help me, when they could have themselves. The bottom line is people don't want to be bothered. It is their civic duty to be aware. They just don't have to really care. Aware--Care. That rhymes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Columbia Movies

Before videos, cable TV, or computer downloads, there were movie theatres. They were first downtown and then spread out to the neighborhoods. They were a place where parents could trust their kids to spend a Saturday afternoon, and it didn't cost much. As one got older, we got interested in more mature fare, or at least you tried to see it. Fake ID's or trying to look more mature than you really were. It became something of a game between you and the theatre manager. Many of them didn't care how old you were. They just wanted the money. Movies were an escape from life. For two hours (or more), you could go anywhere in time by going to the movies. It didn't have to be a blockbuster. Studios just made movies--good or bad. They didn't have to worry about market share or box office gross. They made movies for the fun of making movies. Sometimes, the little movies were better than the big ones. Low budget films, especially horror, were cheesy. They were short on plot but big on action. They still make movies like that, but they go straight to DVD. I used to see 2 or 3 movies a day. Even before multi-screen cinemas. Once I estimated that I had seen over 3000 movies. I don't know how many now, since the advent of video. I've seen some over 100 times each. Here is a rundown of the theatres that were in Columbia during my growing up years, and a few films that stand out at each one:
Carolina--The Sound of Music; Kid Galahad; Bruce Lee films
Ritz--A Hard Day's Night; Goldfinger; no comment
Palmetto--Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Good Morning and Goodbye (the manager wanted to see your draft card to get in, which you couldn't fake)
Miracle--The Green Berets; Love and Death; Rosemary's Baby
Fox--Bonnie and Clyde; Airport; no comment
Chateau 8--no comment
Carver--Kung Fu; no comment
Atlantic Twin--Tarzan w/Jock Mahoney; Lady in Cement; no comment (the manager refused me to see The Detective w/Frank Sinatra)
Richland Mall--The Glass Bottom Boat; A View to a Kill
Five Points--Cowboy Serials; Seventeen (used a fake ID a lot until the girl at the box office said my mother was her sunday school teacher)
Jefferson Square--Tora Tora Tora; Earthquake; Aliens
Gamecock--Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Columbia Mall--Airplane
Dutch Square--The Midnight Man; Live and Let Die
Spring Valley--Saturn 3; Pee Wee's Big Adventure
There were also drive-ins, which I didn't go to much, or I'll deny it, if you ask.

Some Observations

Did you hear the one about the Indian Chief and the Alcoholic? Me neither. I was wondering if you knew. Probably the Indian Chief said "How", and the Alcoholic said "Much". Now, wasn't that funny? Side-splitting humor? Or, "How long?" That's a rather personal question says Monty Python. The ramblings of a fool. Stop before I kill again. I'll also kill for a soaking bath. FYI.

I was in the downtown post office getting my mail. A woman was literally yelling at the clerk. She was mad, because she didn't get mail everyday. She was blaming the sorter, the carrier, and the postal service in general. She said that her neighbors got mail everyday, but she didn't. My thought was that maybe she didn't get mail everyday, because nobody liked her.

Why do some dry cleaners not offer same-day service? I took my pants to be cleaned, when they opened at 7am. They advertise cleaning on the premises. So, why does it take 36 hours to clean a pair of pants? If they offered same-day service, I bet they would have lots more business.

Why are there no convenience stores in downtown Columbia? There is a CVS open 24 hours near USC, but that's it. And only one grocery store, and it's not near most apartments and houses downtown. What do they do if they need something quickly? If I had the money, I would open one and make tons of money.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Customer Service

One thing I do pretty well is figuring out what a customer wants or needs and sets them up with it. Or, I try and solve a problem that a customer might have. I was very good in steering a person into buying something that they had not intended to buy. That is why my luggage business was so good. People trusted me, and I tried to be honest with them. I didn't blow people off. If I could help them, I would, as long as it also helped the company.

Case in point--a person would come into luggage, because they saw a five-piece set for $99 advertised in the paper. The set was what I used to refer to as "car luggage". It was okay to take with you to the beach, but don't fly with it, because it would tear up. So, the first words out of my mouth were "flying or driving?". If they said "flying", then that would eliminate an entire category of luggage, usually the one-price sets. And then, I would show them the good stuff. Start expensive and come down. Were they flying domestic or international? Were they using connecting flights? Were they going to be on tour or business? So many factors entered into our conversation. I knew my product, and I could sense my customer. I was always honest with them, even at the expense of making the sale, because I knew they would respect me more. That was my customer service.

There is not many of us. I was reminded of this from yesterday. I went into a store with the need to speak with a manager about a benefits issue. I found an employee who didn't look like she was doing anything, and I told her what I needed. She picked up the phone and called someone. Sor far so good, except she tells the person on the other end, "How do I tell him that?". She was told to call another number who was the HR person, and she said for me to call an 800 number, because they didn't do what I needed in the store. Okay, but why did she tell this associate to tell me? Why couldn't she had done it? She was in her office, because the associate caller her office, and she picked up the phone. Are managers so isolated that they don't want to help people? When I was a manager, I told my people to get me, if there was a problem. Don't try and fix it themselves. Although, I trusted a few of my associates to make a good decision.

Yesterday, the Human Resources person wasn't very human. I hope that doesn't start a trend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Respecting Others

I like people. I think that most people are good. There are some people who like to show off or try to take advantage of a situation, but for the most part people are basically good.

My parents taught me that we should treat all people the same. I can remember the days of segregation, but my parents didn't see color. They saw individuals. The first time I saw separate rest rooms was on our trip to California. We stopped at a gas station, and my father explained why there were two rest rooms for men. I also saw it at the movie theatre. There was an entrance for black people and another one for whites. It didn't make much sense to me. My grandmother was one of the first teachers in Alabama to teach black children. The class was at a different time than the white kids, but she knew that everyone needed an education, no matter what the color of their skin. Some people in the community didn't like her doing that, but my grandfather was a judge, so he protected her. Some in my family have had black cooks or maids and have treated them as one of the family. It is all about respect.

When I was in college, there was a blind student named James. He was black, and I was one of his readers. James was very intelligent. One Sunday, I invited James to go to church. When we got there, we were met by the ushers at the front door who would not let us come in, because James was black. James told the men that he was blind and couldn't see what color they were, so the ushers let us sit in the balcony. The next Sunday, James took me to his church, and I was welcomed with open arms.

That's what life in the South was like. Things have sort of eased, but there is always somebody with an attitude or an agenda who wants to press some buttons. It doesn't have to be a black man. White people like to cop an attitude, because they think they are better. Some black people cop an attitude, because they feel they have constantly been on the defensive and need to lash out.

I was working at Belk in Men's Shoes in the late 1980's. An official with a predominantly black organization brought in his son one Saturday to buy shoes. It was a very busy day, and I didn't know who was next. The man lashed out at me and called me a racist for not waiting on him next. I apologized, but he wanted to have me fired. He asked my name. When I told him, he backed off, because he knew my brother, who had been hired by the man to write his five-year plan. My brother had asked me to research and write it, which I did. I didn't have the heart to tell the man that I had written his plan. But, I think he was trying to show off in front of his son.

People, who don't know me, tend to think of me as an aloof, uncaring individual. Nothing could be further from the truth. I like being around people. I don't care what they look like, as long as there is respect involved. I have gone out with black women, as well as Asians, Hispanics, and whites. Others may frown on it, like the time Gwen and I thought we were going to be attacked in Batesburg. But, we made it out alive and had a good laugh.

My wish is that others would treat me with the same respect. After all, the world is a rainbow.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Feet

My feet hurt. They have hurt for about two days, because I have done so much walking. When I was younger, I could walk five miles and not even think about it. Now that I am older, they hurt all the time. I really need to soak them, but there is nowhere to do that right now. My ankles hurt. My knees hurt. My hips hurt. But, mainly it is my feet. I have blisters on two toes right now, and another burst yesterday causing a lot of pain. I have band aids on my toes, as well as pads and shoe inserts. I would tell you that I am walking like an old man, but a friend of mine would tell me that I am an old man. No consolation there. So, if you see me out and about and want to know why I am walking so slow, it is because my feet hurt. I know most of you don't care, and I don't mean to complain. It is just a fact. My feet hurt. If I had insurance, I would make an appointment with a doctor. But, if I had insurance, then that would mean I would have a job, and I wouldn't have to walk 6 miles a day, and then my feet wouldn't hurt. So there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I've Fallen

As children, we fall. We fall down. Our legs are unsteady. We are not sure that we can stand up, so we fall down. We don't trust our legs, or we don't know that we can stand up. Eventually, we figure it out. We can use our feet to balance our wobbly bodies, and then we stand. However, we continue to fall, but it is usually our choosing. We play football, and we fall down, but we get back up, unless we get hurt. We play baseball, and we fall down to avoid being tagged out. We also might fall down to hide from a disaster, such as a shooting or some other calamity.

When I was a kid, my parents gave me some unique experiences. They loved to travel, so we got to picnic in the Smokey Mountains by ice-cold streams with bears in sight. We got to be in Biloxi MS, when a hurricane arrived and flooded the lobby of our hotel. We got to go to Dodge City KS and Colorado Springs CO. We went to the Air Force Academy and Santa Fe NM. We toured the Grand Canyon and Disneyland. We went to Washington DC and the New York World's Fair. There were other places, too, but that's just my first 10 years. My parents didn't have a lot of money, but they provided for my brother and me.

Even after we were on our own, my brother and I would get words of encouragement from Mother and Daddy. The last thing my father said to me before he slipped into a coma was, "We love you, and we are proud of you." I didn't deserve it, but it was unconditional. As my Mother got to the point where she couldn't speak, she would just squeeze my hand to show her love for me. Sometimes, she would just about cut off the circulation, but I felt her love as an electric current to me.

In the past few weeks, I have fallen once again. I have felt alone, because no one has come to pick me up. They just walk around me. Some will ask me how I am doing lying on the ground, but when I tell them I'm okay, they say good and walk away without picking me up. Quite frankly, some of what has been said to me has hurt me deeply. I haven't wanted to show it for fear people will think less of me, but it has caused my emotions to be very fragile. So, I am asking again--please help me stand up. Let me lean on you for support. And maybe, I can once again stand on my own two feet.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Oliver Gospel

When I was in college, and had much longer hair, I spent time in Atlanta with some folks in a house. We were all hippies and theatre people and just had fun. I also spent time in Dallas around that same time with some people who were "Jesus Freaks". It was nothing to be in one room, sharing food, and helping one another. As time went on, and my hair got shorter, I began getting into the business world. One day, I was walking on the street near the State House, and a man was trying to get money from pay phones. Two guys walked past him and yelled out "Get a job!" He tried to ignore them, but you could tell that he didn't. When I was in seminary in the late 1970's, I saw my first real homeless person (not a hippie) sleeping on a bench in Dallas. It was a bit of a shock, as the times had changed. The hippies had been replaced by the homeless. Now, I am a member of that fraternity. Last Friday, I entered a homeless shelter called Oliver Gospel Mission. This was because I ran out of money, and no one allowed me to stay with them, despite my asking many people if they would. Some had good reasons. Others just didn't respond. I called The United Way, and the guy there suggested I go live under a bridge. No lie. I have met some that do live under bridges, but I have the top bunk of a bunk bed. There are about 25 other guys in this big room. And, half of them snore. There are 2 showers, and all the showering is done at night. A few guys in the room are crazy, but most of them believe in God and just want to be respected. I do a lot of walking now that my car is gone, so I run into the guys on the street all the time. They always say hello and ask how you are doing. It is a comraderie. I have tried to dress nicely, since I am looking for work. A woman stopped me on the street over the weekend asking for money. I told her that I was in the same boat as her, being homeless. She couldn't believe me, and I had to tell her that there is nothing written on my forehead saying I was homeless, but I am. She smiled, and we parted. Life is very hard right now. No one said it would be easy. But, if you can help me out with a roof over my head, in a real house, please let me know. Meanwhile, be nice to those of us out on the streets. All we ask is a smile or a pleasant greeting. And, for the most part, we are not going to rob you. We just ask for some human respect.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Adventure

Last night, I had a new adventure. Staying at the Oliver Gospel Mission. I must say it was not what I expected and was pleasantly surprised. The staff there seem to genuinely care about the guys needing help. The guys needing help have to sign a sheet saying that they are Christians, and at the chapel last night, we all broke into praise songs. It was a good environment. There are some guys there who are recovering from substance abuse. There are others who just got out of jail and have nowhere to go. Then, there are others who just need a helping hand, as they search for work. That's my group. Last night, the snoring was very loud in the room where I was. There was about 25 guys in the room, sleeping on bunk beds. My bed was on top, which made for an interesting way to get up there without a ladder, and I had to make sure everything was situated, because I didn't want to have to climb back down before morning. I got a locker with lock to put my stuff in. It is kind of small, but I feel it is secure. The only problem is that it is in the way of folks needing to get to the bathroom, as the hallway is very narrow. So, there are a lot of guys saying "Excuse Me", as they try to get by. You can only shower at night. I don't really understand that concept, but maybe it is because breakfast is at 6am, and you have to be out of your room by then. After breakfast may come a chapel service, but they didn't have one today, so I had to kill about three hours before the library opened, so I could use their computer. I can't have my laptop in the mission, and I'm not supposed to have a cellphone, but I do. There is no TV either, so I'll have to learn how the football games were later tomorrow. This is an adventure. But, I hope it doesn't last long, if someone will step up and let me stay with them. I am joining First Baptist tomorrow, so I hope that will help. I must say though, in closing, that the comraderie of the guys there at the mission is a good thing. Homeless people are not all bad.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The News

Well, a lot has happened to me over the last few days. My car blew up, and I can't afford to fix it, so I am junking it tomorrow and getting a few dollars for it. I have been riding the bus everywhere or walking. I need to find a place to live, but with no money or job, that is a challenge. I called United Way, and they suggested I go live under a bridge. Yes, they did. I did talk to a shelter today that caters to men who are addicts. I don't know about that, but it looks like I may not have a choice, unless somebody can help me out in the next 12 hours or so. If anyone has a spare room in the Columbia area, please let me know. I don't have any money, but I should get a job soon. I have applied to a bunch of places in the last three days, and I have some good possibilities. I guess that's about it for now. I have a new phone. Please call me if you can help me. My number is 803-622-5674, but don't call me right now unless you can help me. Or, if you can throw a few bucks my way, my address is PO Box 1464, Columbia SC 29202. Thanks a lot for looking at this. Take care of yourselves and maybe one other person.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Day

Life is hard. There are no guarantees. If life were easy, folks would smile all the time. And there would not be a reason to have hospitals or mental facilities. There would be no need for drugs. No suicides. But, life is not easy. I know that. You know that. Most everybody knows that. So, I am writing this blog today with that in mind. Life is hard. It has been ironic to me during these months of crisis that I have lived my life as a caring individual. I have cared about others. I have cared about their lot in life. I have helped those with problems. I have given them a shoulder to cry on. But, when the tables have turned, these people have turned their backs on me. They don't want to be bothered, or I am an embarrassment. I have never said that I am perfect. I have my faults. But, I have also lost a lot of family and friends over this, because they don't want to be bothered. Some people have helped me either financially or emotionally. Some people have offered prayers for me. And, I thank you for that. Prayer is a force that has helped me stay alive. Whether you believe in prayer or not, I believe that prayer works. But, prayer does not give me a place to stay, in and of itself. Prayer does not give me a job, in and of itself. And now, I have come to the point where I can no longer afford to stay where I have been for the last few months. My car is about shot. I need to put a quart of oil in it each time I drive it, as it leaks profusely. Today is the day that I need to move out of the motel and into my car. I have looked at shelters, but have found they cater to drug addicts and criminals. Others cater to people with children or women. I don't fall into either of those categories. I know I can say that today is the first day of the rest of my life. Let's hope some prayers are answered today. God help me if they are not.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's Saturday

I love college football. I have my favorite teams, but if a game is on TV, I'm going to watch it. The interest probably came from my Mother. We used to sit at home on Saturday afternoons to watch football. Her favorite team was Alabama, because she was from there, and her brothers went to Alabama. We also watched the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoons. So, those were her teams. When I went to PC, I made some football players mad, and as punishment, I had to go to their games and sit in a special seat, so they would know I was there. That's another story for another day. But, I did enjoy being there and cheering on our team, even though they didn't win many games. So, college football season has started. Already, one of my teams has won their first game--the University of South Carolina. Clemson plays this afternoon. Alabama plays tonight. And, there are some teams that I just can't stand. But, if it is on TV, I am probably going to watch it. Case in point--Tulsa vs. Tulane. That game was on TV last night. Now, I almost went to Tulane, when I was looking at schools years ago. Mainly because it was in New Orleans, where I was born. But, Tulane has never been a powerhouse in football. And, they proved it again last night. Tulsa was all over them. But, I still wanted Tulane to do good. I usually go with the underdog, if the teams playing are not one of my favorites. That's because I have been the underdog most of my life. One thing I like about college football is that the teams don't usually quit, even if they are losing 55-0. It is a sense of pride that they have. Another thing I like is the players aren't playing for money, or at least they aren't supposed to be. Their school could get into trouble, if the players were being paid. Sometimes, one gets the feeling that the pro teams are just going through the motions, because they are going to get paid anyway. It is like in the Super Bowl. If a pro team wins in the Super Bowl, and a player sits on the bench the entire game, he will still get a ring. Somehow that doesn't seem quite fair. But in college, a football team is more like a family. Sometimes disfunctional, but a family nevertheless. So, the football season has begun. Yay!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another Hike

I took another 8-mile hike today. Despite the air being a little cooler, I still seem to sweat like a pig. In a way, I guess that's good. I do drink water along the way, but it does seem excessive. I made it to the post office and mailed off a signed Elton John cd to a guy in Australia. And, I picked up my mail, which included two autographed pictures from Shirley MacLaine and Pete Carroll. In the old days, it was said that Shirley used her secretary to sign her stuff, but this one looks legit. She even included a typed letter to me and referenced a funny story that I told her. I don't remember what I wrote to her that was funny, unless it was my Burt Lancaster story. I also went by a Jewish graveyard where my next-door neighbors are buried--Sam and Sylvia Savitz. They were our neighbors for about 30 years and were genuinely nice people. Their son Phil was close to my age. They had a jungle jim in the backyard and a pool table in their den. They also had a dog named Spot that was dumb as a post, but he was the neighborhood dog. Everyone loved Spot, although he barked constantly. I even have a cassette recording of something on TV that I made, and you can hear Spot barking outside. Spot even survived being hit by a car. He missed some fur from that accident. Eventually, Spot got sick and died. But, he led a fruitful life. I watched Spot, when the family would go on vacation. He ate Alpo, which was the foulest smell I had ever smelled. I hated feeding time. Anyway, back to the hike. I made it back to the motel. I really think the last mile is the worst. I got back and collapsed. I don't think I'll be doing that hike again any time soon. At least, I hope not.