“What did I do?”


I was strongly tempted to call out, “It’s cold in those bullpens![*]  They’ll bring you a bag lunch.”

I’ve been there.

April 16, 2018

Us homeless guys occupy a basement.  It’s not like that sounds; basement is just where it is.  We enter through a 12×30 excavated, concrete-walled, roofed area called the “smoke pit.”  When we’re allowed to smoke, that’s where we do.  At the south end of the smoke pit are stairs leading down from the ground-level parking lot.  A 4′ ledge runs along the smoke pit at ground level.

So, to enter the joint, we come across the parking lot and line up at the top of those stairs, and then we’re allowed to go down the stairs, and, one by one, go in.

Today half a dozen of us were at the end of the line, waiting in the parking lot, and it began to rain.  The guy behind me, an immigrant from _____ who’s come pretty regular for a few weeks, went to the north end of the ledge and began shouting down at those guys to double up the line, so those of us in the rain could get under the roof.  I did not care.   No one present did as he said.

Another guy, another immigrant from _____, standing at the top of the stairs, started shouting back.

This young man whom I’ve never seen before, wearing a blue-and-white striped dress shirt and dress pants and shoes and, notably, no name tag; came out of the building, pointed at the two guys, and said, “You and you.  You both have to leave.  Neither one of you is coming in tonight.”

The second guy shut up.  The first one did not.

NOTE:  Getting put out for one night isn’t, itself, a big deal.  You can come back tomorrow.

The conclusion I come to is that Dress Shirt was an office worker from upstairs, whom the shouting had bothered.  It’s extraordinary in that building that anyone not have a name tag.

Make no mistake, what followed was major drama.  I smoked a half-pack of cigarettes while in that line today.

Dress Shirt stood by the first guy, and per the story he told later, told him five times to go to the end of the line (behind me).  Each time, the guy — never moved — but instead answered that he’d been telling the guys below to make room for us under the roof.  By the way, the rain had long since ended.  Dress Shirt told him to leave, and again, the guy didn’t move.

Dress Shirt came our way, and made his way past us down the stairs and inside.  (Pause.)  When he came back out, he pointed the guy out to the peacekeepers and told them, “Call 911.  Call 911 right now.”  Steve did.  So, the heat were on their way.

Once you’re told to leave the premises, what you did doesn’t matter.  If you don’t leave, you’re trespassing and subject to arrest.

The guy came down into the smoke pit, and stood there, away from the line.

Pete came, who is, like, major big shot, and told the guy to leave.  He said, “What did I do?”  Pete asked his name.  His answer was to ask Pete his name, and I was non-plussed that Pete did not answer.  He said, “Who’s in charge?”  Pete said, “He is,” indicating Dress Shirt.  The guy said, “Who’s he?  I’ve never seen him before.”

Maybe because he’s a big shot, yo.

Pete again told him to leave, and he answered that he’d been telling the guys to make room under the roof.

The accused normally tells only half the story.

He left out the part about being told five times to go to the end of the line.

Dress Shirt came out, pointed at the guy, and said, “You’re banned from the premises.  Go away and don’t ever come back.  Your presence is not welcome here.”

NOTE:  That is a big deal, the most severe penalty possible.  You can’t ever come back, and no other shelter in the region is anywhere near as desirable as this one.  Many guys sleep outside rather than stay at another shelter.

An intern came out and tried to persuade the guy to leave rather than get arrested.  His answer to every suggestion was, “What did I do?  What did I do?”

In the end, he left before police came.  But he can never come back.

how you’re treated
depends how you act.

April 20, 2018

Is it the same?

Duke students say officials ‘traumatizing’ them for threatening discipline after crashing speech


[*]The holding cells at Baltimore’s Central Booking are notoriously frigid.  Not as frigid as my ex, but still really cold.

2 thoughts on ““What did I do?”

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