I know this is going to sound weak. I am almost ashamed to write this, but I think it is important.
My kid, the ministry student (Agent Z), wants to plunge with me and video record it. We went out yesterday afternoon. But I have a couple constraints I am placing on ourselves, which are new for the experience. First, I insist we look for fellow street drifters in our part of town. Second, we must obey all laws and keep ourselves “above reproach” while getting beneath contempt. (In other words, no jaywalking, no trespassing, no loitering, no public urinating etc.)
We left the house on foot, since we weren’t going that far. We left in the heat of the day, at about 70 degrees. We thought we might camp out all night and go to church in the morning to cap off the plunge, but only if the weather stayed above 50 degrees (I am getting old now and just not up to freezing all night if I can help it).
Of course my boy is very eager to find other homeless folk. We know they venture into this area, but they are rare here. But walking for a mere 3 hours wore me out! We did not see any on this trip. It feels like a failure. We covered more than 3 miles (according to the pedometer) but in this part of town, there is no place to sit! We sat on the curb at the very busy intersection of Milwaukee and 82nd for a while, where traffic moves through at a rate of almost 100 cars a minute. The noise of the traffic is so loud there we had to yell to carry on a conversation.
We finally went to the Chick-fil-A at supper time and counted out a pocketful of change to purchase the 12-piece chicken nugget box (which we split between us), and drank water. Sitting in that chair was such a HUGE blessing! Using their bathroom was soooo necessary! It was relatively quiet, it was a real chair and not the hard pavement, and for $5.21 we could soak in these creature comforts which we desperately needed after only 3 hours of hard-living!
On the one hand, we wimped out too easy! On the other hand, looking around at this part of Lubbock from those moccasins, really let me know just how hard it is to live on the streets in this part of town. We were under at least 50 surveillance/security cameras. There were only 3 lots we found where our trespassing was not prohibited. We needed $5 just to sit in the restaurant that is so “Christian” they don’t even open on Sundays (we were NOT MIStreated in there, but you gotta pay to play…).
Yeah, I think if St. Paul had taken us out on this mission, he would have sent us back with John Mark and with our tails between our legs. But we also passed 3 churches in this area, none of which gave off a “welcome here” vibe. I mean, I don’t expect a door greeter at the curb or in the alley on a Saturday afternoon, but you can see the way the various businesses on all sides present their establishments as very welcoming places, and somehow the churches looked a bit closed off. At least that was the psychological effect I experienced as I walked by.
Agent Z and I live a few blocks off Frankford and a few more blocks off 82nd. As we turned off these busy streets and ventured up our residential street, we both noted how the traffic noise slowly subsided. You can hear if from our yard, but it is more peaceful than noisy here. You can hear the wind in the trees and the birds, the neighbors dog and so forth from our yard. Having a HOME in this part of town is so very important. I have plunged for 3 days in a row in the downtown/tent city district, and though there are many hardships in that part of town, there are PLENTY of places to stop and sit a while. Not around here… Not unless you venture into some of the parks among the gated communities in the area. And that will draw attention to a street person!
No. This part of town is for drivers, not walkers. My right foot was in deep pain when we packed it in and came home. I propped up my feet in the easy chair. I took pills. And now, I have a new view of my part of town. And it is not a view of the Welcome Mat.