Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Brian the Poet

Today I made a new friend at Starbucks.  I was behind him in line and struck up a conversation. He is an interesting guy and in the few short moments that I had with Brian I learned a few things.  Brian is very friendly, he is a Vietnam Vet, he has an injured leg that he's having a hard time with and he is an accomplished poet.  He told me that his friends call him Poet and that he wanted me to call him Poet. I agreed.

If you live in the Hollywood area you probably know of Brian, or as I call him, Poet.  Poet is a hunched over homeless man in his 60's.  He carried the sign, "Too ugly to prostitute, too old for jail." He's is in pretty bad shape.  About a week ago I gave him a dollar mostly because I wanted to ask him how he was and what he needed.  That was when he told me about his leg.  He said that the doctor told him if he didn't take good care of it, he would loose it.  Here's a guy standing all day to make what little money he does and he's threatened with the loss of his leg.

I am no saint but I did think it was important to get him supplies to take care of his leg because he said he couldn't afford them.  I went straight to Rite Aid and bought gauze, tape, self clinging wrap and antibiotic cream.  He was right, it is expensive.  It was about $22.00.

The homeless situation in Portland is problematic.  Who can know why someone is homeless?  Some suffer from PTSD.  There are many issues associated with PTSD, for some being inside is terrifying, others have substance abuse, anger issues or can't relate to their families and loved ones.  Others are mentally ill and some choose to be homeless for reasons that we may never know about.  One thing I know is no one says, "I want to be HOMELESS!" when they are in kindergarten.  

Taking care of homeless people is expensive not taking care of homeless people is even more expensive.  I don't know what the answers are and I don't believe just handing over money is very helpful.  Services, shelter, sustenance, support in many forms: those are the things that are helpful.

I do not know what the future holds for Poet but I will continue to check in with him and see what he needs.  I promised him that I would do my best to keep him supplied with bandages.  What I did not say is that I will keep checking in with him to see what else he needs.  I will not give him cash but I will give him food, dry socks, tarps and whatever else he might need.

I challenge you to see the homeless in your neighborhood and if you are inclined, ask them how they are doing.   Often times a little bit of kindness can go a long long way.