I wonder if anyone reading here will remember my post on ALPO (Agent Li’l Psych-O). It was one of my more popular posts, but it goes back several months now. In that post I described spinning my wheels in futility as I helped a brother carry his cross. He struck me as heavily delusional, which in turn made me consider how delusional I was in thinking I might “help.”
I just had another similar encounter this afternoon. I will not give her name. Normally I would call her Agent K, but maybe we can consider her a bit more special than that. Let’s name her Special Agent K, and then affectionately refer to her as Special K.
Yeah. I like that.
I was driving along 50th near Indiana with Agent Dad yesterday when he noticed a heap of luggage just across 50th from the Market Street. I was too late to see it as we drove past, but when I happened along there again today, I was watching for it. Sure enough, I spotted Special K sitting there next to a heap of bags alright.
I was already pretty hungry, so I zipped into a McDonalds nearby and grabbed a cheap lunch for two. Then I circled back to find her.
Normally, when I approach a woman I don’t already know and I have no female companions with me, I try to be sensitive to the fact that I represent a regular source of danger and fear to women living on the street. I hate to say that I approach them like a stray cat or dog, but that kinda catches the idea. I allow plenty of space and ask permission to approach. Even though it functions like approaching a stray animal, it actually is about respect.
Sometimes, that proves necessary. Some women really want that distance – and rightly so. But more often than not, they are oblivious to my sensitivity and even don’t care. But still, I approach with caution.
Special K did not care. She greeted me with bright eyes and a near toothless smile. She appeared to my eye to be nearing 70 years old, but I have come to realize she could be half that age. (I did not ask.)
In fact, I did not ask hardly any personal questions. (I typically don’t get too nosey that way.) But I did ask her name so that I could pray for her. I offered her lunch and asked if I could sit with her and share it. She said, “Yes.”
She was leaned up against a fence on that lot – the side facing the sun. She complained that she was hot sitting there. I noted that at my position near the corner, the draft was quite cool. So she immediately got up to move her bedroll around the corner.
It was just then that I caught the stench of her. It overwhelmed me. I wanted to throw up. Suddenly I became very concerned that I might not be able to eat with her. I have not smelled that smell like that in a long time. I was in pain then, but she did not notice.
She got resituated and we sat together, talked and ate. She did MOST of the talking. It was a jumble of stories. Early on she referenced having arrived in Lubbock only recently. But she kept making reference to “they” and “them” without any antecedent. I asked who she meant, and she said, “The city of Lubbock.” Real quick I began thinking this woman is delusional.
Her story (or stories) held firm to consistency, but again, it was as if we were in the middle of a longer conversation, and I did not have my bearings. Still she said she “owns land” and is on a waiting list for an apartment. Somewhere in there she referenced her “lawyer” – which does not prove she is delusional, but is common among people who are. And since the woman is living on a dusty lot on 50th across from Market Street, I am thinking her story does not add up, as we say.
There is a lot more I could say about her offerings, but I am struck by how vulnerable she is. I am struck by the fact that she is not in the HOMELESS PART OF TOWN. 50th and Indiana is down by Monterey High School. There are some fine neighborhoods in close proximity. Market Street ain’t the Cork-n-Bottle liquor store, nor the neighborhood 7/11. When Special K referenced that some official (police officer?) told her she had to stay some place near a real bathroom, I totally get it that Market Street has one. But when she mentioned the people in there getting coffee and her staying outside so as not to bother them, I am thinking of her smell!
Homelessness is spreading around Lubbock. It is not contained at Tent City, Carpenters Church, St. Benedicts, The Sally or The Dream Center. And for that matter, even those places are not all centered together. But I have seen evidence of homeless people down at 50th and Ave Q, in Maxey Park, 29th Drive and 34th, Quaker and the South Loop.
I finished my lunch with Special K watching the traffic of Lubbock whip by at 45 mph, and all the cars pulling in and out of Market Street, and I sensed the problem seething beneath the surface. Special K is kinda poking out in broad daylight. However, I am my own living proof (as of passing by there yesterday) that at 45 mph it is possible not to see her there.
I hope and pray Lubbock sees Jesus there on the side of the road and turns out to show WORTHSHIP of our Lord and Savior in the least of these (Matt. 25:35) among which Special K certainly is.