It’s My Turn
The priority this budget crunch season somehow has become uprooting a homeless person who is able to keep his house in order.
March came into Broad Channel like a lion last Monday, in the form of three sanitation vehicles of destruction and five steeled employees.
Their target was the homeless person whose small shelter on the east side of Crossbay Boulevard was doubtless more of a blight than the litter that regularly streams the boulevard, east and west these days.
When the five o’ clock whistle blew on Thursday, whatever little was his was turned to dust. The round-the-clock watch was necessary to assure no items were retrieved. And, if it wasn’t for the good intentions of a passer-by, the man’s bicycle would be unrecognizable amid the rubble, too.
The thing I like most about my home in Broad Channel is the lack of ability to pretend.
You are close to the ground here. And the water table. When you look outside a window on the bay you get that glimpse, or reminder, of how the wide ocean is poised and ready and might just start rolling in.
So, it was a personal affront to see this ruthless, overpowering gesture toward a man who owns no door to close on life, when it becomes too much.
My family met this man as we turned out of the turning lane on Cross Bay Boulevard one afternoon, some time ago.
His one arm was gashed and bleeding. In the other, he clutched a filmy piece of Plexiglas he raised as a shield. A band of local boys saw fit to vandalize his things and chase him into the street, throwing rocks. When the EMTs arrived and looked at his arm, they were stumped at first. The wound was round, not jagged and uneven. This was not a rock. The man was shot with BB pellets.
We saw a couple of familiar faces that day while we helped him get some attention for his arm. It was good to see the residents who stopped and cared. There can be safety in numbers. Unfortunately, for this man there aren’t numbers often and when there are, their good intentions are not a foregone conclusion.
Most of us could not imagine life without the comfort and reassurance our delineated, deeded space provides us. We come home and have our custom space and creature comforts.
No birthright allots this to us. It is not first come – first serve or last one in - first one out. Some of us are fortunate and have it. Some of us, for whatever assortment of hard luck and yes, bad choices, do not.
I do not have a position as first responder or community worker. It is not required of me, professionally, to sum up a situation or individual at a glance in order to mount the appropriate response and/or avoid a danger to myself. As onlooker then, I can only state the desire that part of the professional kit bag in these instances, hold with it the charter to respond to someone in need whose only cloak of protection and dignity is what is mustered between the two, the moment their fates collide.