July 8, 2013
People who support the idea of permanent homeless camps are fond of saying that homelessness is an economic problem and that the camps are one way of addressing that problem. It’s not hard to refute that claim. Consider this fellow, for example. Last Friday I found him “flying a sign,” as panhandlers call it, in the traffic island at a busy intersection across from the Nickelsville homeless camp on West Marginal Way South.
I know this man. His name is “Doug,” and he’s actually a nice fellow. Doug likes people in an abstract kind of way, and he also cares about animals. Especially his cat.
Like most of the hard-core homeless, Doug has some issues with society and authority figures. He’s intelligent, though. And strong, too. He’d probably be capable of holding down a job and getting himself an indoor place to stay, but he doesn’t want to do that. And since this is America, he doesn’t have to.
So what’s Doug doing here in the median, with all his stuff? It’s kind of a longish story, but the shortish part of it is that he was kicked out of Nickelsville several months ago, during a ker-scuffle between Management and some alleged meth dealers. A corporate restructuring followed, and Doug was transferred to a regional office known as The Greenbelt. Unfortunately, The Greenbelt is not a good place to stash yer stuff while you’re out panhandling, so Doug has decided to take his show on the road. Literally. Depending on your outlook, you could either say that Doug now works from home or that he lives in his office. One thing’s for sure, though: He ain’t ever goin’ back to Corporate.
Nickelsville fans have said that the surge of people living in The Greenbelt and panhandling around W Marginal Way has nothing to do with Nickelsville. They say those people would be there anyway, because of the economy, capitalist injustices, or whatever.
I dunno . . . Take a look at Doug here and tell me what you think.
Nothing to do with the homeless camp across the street? Really?
Doug loves animals, and he tries to take good care of his little black cat. In the foreground of the photo above, you can see the cat’s carrier. He’s put the carrier in the shade, so it won’t overheat. A friend of mine recently stopped by and asked him: Do you need some cat food? I have some donated cat food I can give you.
Doug said: Yeah sure! But only if wheat is not the primary ingredient.