The past two days a staff member actually has woken us up at 6 AM, so that complaint may have been solved. Let’s see if this post is allowed to stay up after its deletion on Monday.
Project Renewal: Hellhole on the Bowery
December 3, 2012
This morning, I awoke at 6:40. Since breakfast here is served from 6:30-7:30, and on a previous occasion, I got the last portion at 7:15, I tried to go down to breakfast in my pajamas. The rules state that we are not allowed in the dining room in a tank top. My pajamas are full long sleeve and long pants. Although I have done this before at this shelter, I was stopped by a staff member and told that I had to be fully dressed in order to eat breakfast.
Although the shelter staff has no qualms waking us up at 1:30 AM to make sure that we are in bed, as they did Sunday morning, we are expected to get up at 6 AM without assistance to leave the shelter by 8 AM. Some people use the alarm clocks that are a built-in feature in our mobile phones. Thanks to President Obama, we are entitled to limited plans with 250 free minutes per month. However, because shelter rules prohibit plugging them in, I find that this is a good way to kill the battery and make it useless as a phone, and the battery may be drained too much for it to actually go off.
Ever since seeing Iron Jawed Angels, one of my great heroes has been Alice Paul (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Paul), and I may be forced into a de facto hunger strike. Of course, because of the failure of the mainstream (conservative, and don’t let anyone tell you differently–they lack the evidence) media to conduct investigative journalism into these kinds of issues, my blog is likely the only way that you would ever hear of these things. I got the last of the breakfasts when I finally came down at 7:20.
The breakfast today was hard boiled eggs, which, unlike at Eddie Harris Shelter, looked and tasted clean. On Thursday, when I was required to stay for an intake meeting with my caseworker, however, I ate lunch at the shelter, which I normally never do, because it was going on at the time I was dismissed from the meeting. The meal was a Jamaican Beef Patty. While I normally would not eat beef, I take what they give me. I should not have. I was struggling to hold in my bowels on the way to Brooklyn College to get my computer access. The guard detained me a few extra seconds because he didn’t recognize my College of Staten Island ID, but he let me through, anyway. I went down to the basement because the one sink in the first floor men’s room has been broken since I’ve been coming, only to find the stalls unusable. I took the elevator up to the second floor and found the stalls all occupied. finally, on the third floor, I could use the bathroom. However, I eventually got settled on a computer in the basement, and a sudden accident during #1 in a stall with a filthy seat caused me to squat, and with improper aim, make the filthy seat even worse. Another guy at the shelter said the patty was literally the only thing he ate all day, and he had exactly the same experience. Another guy threw up all over one of the bathroom stalls on my floor of the shelter. I actually walked in there several times to do #1 during the night because I see just that badly with my contact lenses out.
Friday night, they transferred the guy who was in the bed across form me when I arrived to a shelter around the corner. He, like me, is in the shelter system solely because of lack of income. He has a degree in accounting, but, like me, has been able to find only short-term and part-time work. I didn’t know he was an accounting major. He revealed it to me only when I said that my mother claimed that my homelessness is a consequence of my choice of major, and thus wholly my responsibility. I maintain that my mother is an irrational ideologue, and this example serves as evidence. That shelter doesn’t serve food, so he was in line for brunch the next day, unfortunately for him.
The lazy cheapskates who run this shelter serve a supposedly 10:30 brunch on weekends and holidays, which means I’m limited to what I can get in the cafe at church on Sunday morning. Yesterday, it was excellent (especially Chrissy Michael’s kale salad), but sometimes, it’s all or nearly all dessert food, which doesn’t quite work when I’ve had no breakfast at the shelter, but that’s supplied by volunteers who don’t collaborate on who brings what, and I have no complaint there. I have been at Third Street Shelter since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and that holiday was the only time thus far I had stayed for brunch until Saturday, December 1. They didn’t wheel up the lunch until almost 11 PM, and I stayed in the very same spot halfway across the room until around 11:15 because they were that slow in serving people, and then they have the audacity to hold us accountable for us being out of the place on time.
One fault I have is that if it is clear that someone hasn’t listened to what I have said, I raise my voice and question why they didn’t listen the first time if they wanted to know. I set off an ex-con who now doesn’t want to talk to me because he doesn’t want to hurt me and go back to prison. When I said that the staff member wouldn’t let me go down to breakfast, he asked me what they were having. I said with an elevated voice level, “What part of I wasn’t allowed down for breakfast didn’t you understand?”
Since this shelter, repulsively, is dormitory style with no rooms, which was not the case at either Bellevue or Eddie Harris, I got a lot of flak for behaving that way from other residents, and heard words associated with gang culture that made it sound like I had made a huge mistake.