• Out of sight, out of mind

    by Erika Fiske

    With his fractured heel, 48-year-old Lee walks along Pacific Grove’s tree-lined streets on this wet Wednesday, heading toward a motel near the cemetery, where deer have found a place to live. That’s more than Lee’s been able to do. Walking beside him is Baby, a 17-year-old terrier mix.

    Baby has stood beside Lee all her 17 years. Whenever he stops, she takes the opportunity to lie down and rest her old bones. She’s quiet, and her eyes tell a story of years of moving on.

    Lee can be found on weekdays at the Sally Griffin Center in Pacific Grove, where he uses a computer to look for jobs on Craigslist. But Lee never seems to get a bite. His last job, washing dishes at Asilomar state park, ended when a big corporation took over and let a lot of workers go—the usual story in America these days, he says. Chances are, Lee will never find a job again, like so many of the homeless.

    Lee’s lucky during these couple of rainy days. He finally sold his old car and got enough money to spend a couple of nights in a motel, a rare luxury for him and Baby. The car was just too expensive to keep anyway. Most of the time Lee finds shelter in sheds or under porches at churches. For a while it was a Baptist church, until a new preacher came along and sent him on his way. Now it’s behind a Seventh Day Adventist church.

    With all the agencies and churches around, all looking so pretty, there isn’t much help out there for homeless individuals such as Lee. Certainly not enough to get them on their feet and living happy, productive lives again. They truly are the forgotten people at a time when reports say the top fraction of one percent and the multi-national corporations have sucked up the economy into their over-stuffed pockets.

    But you won’t hear Lee complaining. He knows there’s no point anymore. Things won’t get better, and will probably get worse for all the Lees out there. As Lee talks about himself, Baby sometimes opens her sad, brown eyes. One wonders if she’s thinking about her human companion and what he will do when she’s gone. Seventeen is old for a dog.

    Years ago, Lee lived in Washington, DC. He was an auto parts driver and worked in customer service back when there were actually jobs in this country—back before he fractured his heel. “It needs two pins, but I have no one to watch my dog if I could get surgery,” he says. Besides, it would be impossible recovering from that surgery living on the streets with his dog.

    So Lee and the other invisible people of this wealthy area will continue to spend their days looking for food and a dry place to sleep. As much as possible, they’ll stay out of sight—and out of mind.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on June 1, 2012

    Topics: Homeless Chronicles

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