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Archie and G’girl: Homeless?

December 31, 2017

I sat down to lunch last week with a cheerful, gray-bearded fellow named Archie, and his little dog G’girl. They chowed down on ample helpings of roast chicken and roasted potatoes (G’girl from a paper tray on the fellowship-room floor, of course). They were of the homeless persuasion, I was not, having come to do my small part in serving the “Wednesday lunch” at this particular church.

I say “persuasion” because it seemed, for these two, a choice. Other than his somewhat unwashed and unkempt attire, Archie did not have the look of what I’ve come to expect for homeless people—worn-out, beaten-down, dazed and confused, like a number of the other diners at the Wednesday lunch He seemed pretty hale and hearty to me, well-enough fed and washed.

It was a little while into our shared lunch that he opened up and engaged in some conversation. I’m always curious about anybody’s lifestyle, but I didn’t want to seem overly inquisitive about his. G’girl got friendly too, after a while, stood up by my side for a chin-scratch.

“It’s hard work,” Archie said. “You think there’s nothing to it, that we’re lazy or something, but it’s hard work, sitting on the pavement in front of Safeway. People look down on you. I’m not doing anything, just sitting. It’s hard work. I don’t ask for anything, I don’t have a cup out, I just sit there with my dog. People come up and offer me a little money, or some food. Sometimes they’ll say, can you help me move some boxes? Or dig up my garden? Things like that. So, I earn a little money sometimes. I walk

Where? “Everywhere, one end of town to the other, town to town, state to state. I was up north this summer, heading south now.”

“Do you carry everything with you?” I ask. He gestures toward a backpack in the corner. “Everything I need is right there. I sleep in a three-piece. You know what a three-piece is?”

I don’t. It’s military issue, Marine Corps three-in-one bivouac: ground cover, sleeping bag, waterproof cover so you don’t get wet when it rains.

Where are you tonight? “Under the bridge, in the bushes under the end of the bridge. I saw a cop, going in there. He said, Go ahead. No one will bother you there.”

I had my own thoughts, of course. Archie seemed like such a bright, energetic, sober, cheerful fellow—why not put that to use, get a job, settle down, live under a roof?

But I could tell he didn’t want that. Who knows where he’ll end up next week, next year, next decade? I didn’t really want to know, and I’m sure he didn’t either. One day at a time. Not easy, but uncomplicated. We all need something different, find our happiness or don’t, settle with what has come our way and don’t feel the need to look further. Seemed to me, that Archie had found his place, same as I’ve found my own. Home—isn’t that the place we want to be?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Jo waldo permalink
    December 31, 2017 4:17 pm

    Heartwarming,thoughts abound

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