Archive for February 24th, 2008

Night At The Emergency Shelter

The homeless shelter in Brattleboro — like in most rural areas — is tough to get into. It can take weeks. The procedure is to call in every morning until a bed opens — however long it takes. I’ve tried a couple of times, for lack of anywhere better to go, to get into the place. It’s hard, though, for me to maintain the sustained effort required. Not here in my hometown, where I generally can find some place to stay — stressful & wearisome as finding someplace to stay has become after all these years.

Mind you, there is a real short list of places I can stay. 2 of my friends who generally welcome me into their homes, most anytime I need, are out of town at the moment. That makes the list critically short. In fact — last night at least — the list was non existent.

They’ve opened an emergency overflow shelter for Brattleboro’s homeless this winter. I could have hung around the bars — tired as a dog & with no money — and eventually someone may have put me up. Like I said I end up somewhere most nights. Most, but not all. Last night I was plain not in the mood to spend hours hanging around the bar with no money hoping I would end up somewhere warm. Some nights you’re just not in the fucking mood.

I remembered about the emergency shelter. It opens up during snow & ice storms and when the temperature drops below 20 degrees F. — basically the emergency shelter operates when a persons life is threatened were they to sleep outdoors.

It was mighty cold last night. The emergency shelter was open — from 7PM to 7AM. They have it in a church basement on Main St.

12 people found refuge at the emergency shelter last night. 10 men, one woman — and one undecided. Looked like a chick last night. Yet despite the high heeled boots looked quite like a dude in the cold light of day. Anyway.

The accommodations were comfortable enough; blankets, a pillow, a sleeping pad & a spot on the carpeted floor. My only complaint, shared by most others in my vicinity, was that someone’s feet reeked. Unfortunately those feet were mine. I left the last place I stayed in a hurry and was forced to wear my boots without socks. I was tempted to leave my boots outside the shelter but feared they’d be gone in the morning. I wished I’d taken my chances.

Other than that it wasn’t too bad. They fed us beef stew in the evening. I fell asleep almost immediately. In the morning there was coffee & donuts.

The biggest drawback to the emergency shelter is the 7AM check out time. Actually it was better this morning, being Sunday. On Sunday, while they make you wake up and put your bedroll away before 7, folks are allowed to hang out in there the basement until 9:30 — when church begins.

Good thing. Sunday is a rough day to be homeless — Sunday morning especially. With the library closed, there’s not much to do when you’re broke on Sunday besides just kind of walk around & try to stay warm.

Which I did for some hours. Eventually I occupied a table at a coffee shop. Though I could not buy a coffee, people who work there know me and left me alone. It’s uncomfortable though, being in a place where people buy things, with no money. I didn’t stay long.

Once outside I ran into a friend. Bummed a smoke off him. He then blessedly offered to buy me breakfast. Then we went to his place for a few bong hits. By the time I came back out the Bar was open, and now here I am. 24 hours later, wondering if it’s cold enough for the emergency shelter to open tonight.

Wishing I had some socks.

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