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.


6 Responses to “Night At The Emergency Shelter”

  1. 1 jayherron March 5, 2008 at 11:41 am

    good Jesus…the church sends you outdoors when church begins at 930??
    Luke 4;18-thats in a church book!
    wish I knew where to send you some socks!

  2. 2 Cookiemouse March 6, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    I admire you for writing this blog and would like to wish you good luck.

  3. 3 jayherron March 21, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    ….uh,open container guy-you’se a bit AWOL…ain’t hurd a wurd brother-tell us some stuff!!
    honk honk

  4. 4 Mike E March 22, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    I’m good, ya’ll — pretty good really. Sorry for the post-lapse; this blog & ya’ll who read it have saved my life, seriously. More soon…

  5. 5 Cookiemouse March 25, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Glad to hear you are OK, Mike! Good luck to you!

  6. 6 Absintheve March 27, 2008 at 5:05 am

    “If I were permitted to write all the ballads…
    I need not care who makes the laws of the nation”

    Oh where Oh where has our Mike E gone?
    Just where is the ballad writer today?
    Just thought I check in and see if you were hanging on…
    The Open Container Speed-Way..
    But I think that instead your speeding along…
    On a high-way as you boogie up this way?
    Have you got your open container in the right hand….
    To make sure you have one hand left to write down …
    the ballad you are singing along…
    Just make sure the power steering is set on space control..
    So your new blue digs safely on…
    Actually Cuz you are driving the new digs….
    a cool blue van you will be safely home all along!!
    YeY…Can’t wait to see it!!
    Okay.. I am just loitering here…
    I am just a dreaming wheel watcher …ballad writer not yet!!
    Because People say I am crazy…
    Doing what I am doing..
    They give me all kinds of advise to save me from ruin…
    When I say that I am okay…
    They look me kind of strange..
    Surely your not happy you no longer play the game…
    But I am just sitting here…
    Watching the wheels go round and round…
    I really love to watch them roll….
    No longer riding on the merry go ro-und…
    I just have to let it go!!
    But without the story teller and his ballads..
    It is just easy street for me here…
    And break the laws..I got to write something…
    An ode to your safe travels…
    just sending good energy your way…
    So you can come back here on your speedway…
    and make the case and erase it!!
    But for now I am watching the wheeels turn around…
    As I envision you as the sheriff of the high-way…
    Green light on…roll on!!
    with your blue van the song……
    You can always boogie down or stop to write…
    Friend I will see you soon!
    And then clear out this late night babble brook…
    For now it is a spoken prayer…
    To all passing thru this high-way Yo…
    Dream on…and on…and on!!

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