A Quick J-Man Update

February 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

It had been a couple weeks since I had seen J-Man.  Some of the delay was weather-related and the rest of it was just my bad attitude.  I had errands to run before the next front of bad weather rolled through and I was honestly a bit miffed at J-Man’s behavior the last couple times I saw him.  Or didn’t see him, as the case were.

Back when I was present and T broke the news about finding his mother, I had watched him throw away some perfectly good, fresh food that someone else had dropped off a few minutes before I arrived.  That was icing on the cake after the quarrel about not wanting to meet his estranged family after being reported missing for the last eight years.  Watching such a senseless act of throwing away food that someone thought kindly enough to bring him causes me to question my own generosity.

The whole “that money could be better appreciated/spent somewhere else” argument you have with yourself and all that…Anyway, I set my bad attitude aside this afternoon and dropped by to see him.  This is what I found:

J-Man's Camp

The raggedy old tarp that covered his tent had been replaced with this simply build A-frame and tarp.  Not only was I surprised to see it, but so was J-Man when he returned to his camp after spending a couple nights in a shelter following the second round of snow/ice this winter.

One of the guys had driven through the worst of it to pick him up and deliver him from the cold to the shelter for a few nights.  Another guy purchased supplies and framed up this tarp to help protect his tent from the elements while he was gone.  Someone actually built that IN the snow/ice as it was accumulating and it kept all his possessions dry during the worst of it.  I can’t believe it.

So here I am sulking about a homeless guy potentially wasting my hard-earned cash purchasing him groceries, propane and occasional dinners and someone else drove over here in the snow/ice to upgrade his shelter.  Amazing.

J-Man still preaches his feeling that that “something big” is gonna happen “any day now.”  Personally, I think that something big is when he decides he’s actually gonna use a phone to call his momma — but I’m still feeling there’s some back-story there I haven’t heard yet.  Anyway, his optimism continues to amuse me.  And yet, I believe it also highlights the illusion that obtaining a state ID card, car and a roof over his head will solve all his problems.

He could have “easily” obtained two of the three of those items but his medical evaluation determined he didn’t have any ailments severe enough to warrant special assistance from the state.  I’m uncertain if that says more about the screening process or the state of mental health among your average homeless person.  As much as I loathe state assistance on many levels; the one time I’m really praying for professional resources to help him put his life back together and it doesn’t happen.  Oh, the irony.

I couldn’t accept leaving him empty-handed without any food, so I returned from Costco with a few cases of simple items that would keep him for several days.  (Assuming he doesn’t throw it out.)  I figure I’ll go back on Monday with a couple bottles of propane since he’s short on cooking/heating fuel.  Assuming he has any.  He doesn’t even know.  (You’d think it’d be easy to maintain an inventory of all your worldly possessions when they’d piratically all fit in a shopping cart, no?)

It’s easy to arm-chair quarterback the entire situation when I’m sitting behind my desk but when I’m out there experiencing the sights, sounds and smells (!) of living homeless in the middle of affluent suburbia — it gets real, real fast.  Despite all my whining about it, I truly hope I’m making a difference.  Preferably enough of a difference to bring about some meaningful change in J-Man’s life.

Aaron Melton


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