Wednesday, July 12, 2006

These are the people in your neighbourhood

A homeless guy lives in our residential neighbourhood (gasp!).

I don’t know why, but this shocks me.

When Daniel was born (almost 10 months ago!), we noticed a “crazy guy” who would pass in front of our house yelling and screaming (of course, the dog just loves this!). Usually his monologues are composed of a loop of creative profanities. Being new parents, sleep-deprived and hormonal messes we probably over-reacted by making sure that our doors were locked all the time and by “keeping on eye on him” – it takes him a long time to walk along our street as he criss-crosses, yells at cars, stands in the middle of the road, etc.

I didn’t think this guy was homeless, just crazy – “off his meds” or something (having worked in public libraries a long time I can usually spot “off his meds” a mile away). We saw crazy guy so infrequently, that I just assumed he must live nearby and that most of the time he was fine.

Then about two months ago, I drove to the IGA near our house and parked in the alley where I don’t normally park. I parked there because it was one of those torrential downpour days and by parking there you can walk under a covered walkway. In the pouring rain I noticed this big piece of rolled up foam. Being a giant child, I ran up to it with the intention if kicking it or jumping on it or some such mature antic (I am juvenile, we all know that). As I was about to make contact, I noticed feet sticking out of the foam (eep!).

I ran away.

I recently noticed that in this same spot where he was with the foam, he also has an old crib mattress that he seems to be using.

So obviously “crazy guy” is also “homeless guy.” Now, I’m saddened by this for all the usual reasons that we find “the Homeless” troubling. However, I’m also saddened by the fact that this man is totally alone. I don’t know about you (feel free to comment, though!), but normally when I think of the homeless/see the homeless they are in a group. They have compatriots, buddies, maybe even foes, but they’re not totally alone. Perhaps this is an Edmonton thing, as for most of the year most of “our homeless” need to make use of shelters, etc. due to the debilitating cold. Regardless (or, irregardless, if you will!), it seems especially sad to me that for whatever reason this guy has set up shop as a homeless guy in our neighbourhood, which is really nothing but family housing and industrial buildings. There are no compatriots, buddies or foes for this guy.

As it turns out he may not be totally alone – I think he’s found a friend in Jesus. Yesterday, my sister-in-law, Margaret, and I took the kids for a walk and encountered him yelling as per usual down the street. But this time instead of profanities he was screaming about God and Jesus. It was a Kanye West moment to be sure.

I’m wondering if there is anything that can be done about this, specifically what should I, caring citizen of the Earth, do about it? Is there some agency or someone I should call? Should I just drop off food or blankets with the mattress? How “dangerous” is this guy to himself or others? A few weeks ago I saw him in an intersection charging at moving vehicles. I keep thinking if it’s a real problem “someone” will do “something”. . . hopefully other than write about it in their blog.


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