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I botched my hunger strike already.

December 7, 2012

When the staff member walked in and turn on the lights and said in a soft voice, “Good morning, fellas,” in a manner more polite than useful, particularly when compared to the 1:30 AM Sunday shout-out to make sure we were in bed, I neglected to turn on my phone and check the time.  I knew I should have done it, because by the time I went to the toilet and showered, It was 7:20, and I still had to get dressed.  I can’t prove at what time she did the wake-up, but I can’t believe that it was on time at 6 AM.  Since the way my clothes are packed in my suitcase makes dressing take about ten minutes, 6-7 of which are getting my suitcase out of my locker and digging through it, there was no chance of me getting breakfast.  As long as the shelter prohibits using electrical sockets (so that one may have an alarm clock) and prohibits wearing the pajamas in the dining room, no matter what they put in their rule sheet about getting up at 6 AM being client’s responsibility, ethically, they have to facilitate our getting food during the hours that they serve it.

Last night, the dinner was originally an open-faced roast beef sandwich.  The server saved the last of this for himself and gave out the last bit to the guy before me.  Instead, I got a mushroom-heavy pot roast stew, which, for me, was probably the better end of the deal.  However, this tray, and the new trays of mashed potatoes and vegetables.  The server refused to call seconds.  One guy, an ex-con who also felt the need to warn me about being careful about my blog, said that the server is an asshole and you generally get seconds only when the other guy does it.  He went up and got seconds, but explained to me that he knows the guy well enough that he can game him.  I was hungry that evening, but I didn’t get any food.

With today’s breakfast missed and the shelter not offering bag lunches because it’s geared toward rehab and not job search (which is why I absolutely should not be there), I went to the nearest supermarket, the Whole Foods that is three blocks away to eat from the breakfast bar.  I knew this was $8.99 a pound, so I tried not to take to much.  I got two pancakes, some scramble eggs, and a trial sample of the hash browns.  I figured that would keep it light, but it was still $9.35, plus $1.29 for a pre-priced cup of oatmeal that I packed as fully as I could, and a bottle of Tazo Brambleberry for $1.39, so my order totaled $12.83 that I should not have had to spend.  Yes, the food is better, but I’m in a shelter because I don’t have income sufficient to pay rent anywhere in the country.  My food stamps don’t replenish until tomorrow (I hope, anyway), and you’re not supposed to be able to use food stamps for hot foods (I’ve gotten away with buying food bar items at Whole Foods with food stamps in the past, but I have a little over $2 left on the card, so I didn’t bother attempting with a partial payment.)  I really can’t afford to do something like this, but I can’t see a hunger strike as a viable option if it’s just going to be ignored.

GoodTemps left a message for me yesterday just prior to my meeting with the woman in the recovery center.  I have left two voice mails.  I hope this is my ticket out of the shelter.

  1. Kimmy permalink

    we have a whole foods in Allentown but I dont go to it because I cant afford it! How can you afford it if your homeless and living in a shelter? You seem to be really overly concerned with your food.It seems that you need to stop being lazy and sleeping in. If you put as much time and energy into job searching as you obviously do with your meal planning, you might find a job. Pot Roast stew? Sounds like a gourmet meal. My kids and I had mac and cheese last night for dinner. With a family of 5 we cant afford to have meat with every meal and my husband I work 76 hours a week between the two of us.

    • I am receiving unemployment benefits, although they are set to run out in a few weeks. I was also employed from October 11-November 5 (1099, unfortunately), and still have a great deal of that money in the bank. I already said that eating at Whole Foods was not a good use of my money. If I continue to do so, I won’t have any. You can’t possibly mean that if you eat at Whole Foods once, your debit card will be declined.

      Telling me that I’m lazy and sleeping in seems to suggest that you did not read my post in its entirety, and you have chosen to insult me after reading it only in part. I have applied for approximately 1,100 jobs since entering the shelter system. I approximate this by counting how many e-mails are in the folder with job application confirmations. It is not precise, because some companies provide two, but others, not at all, and not all job applications I do occur through e-mail. I was offered a job on my ninth interview since losing my previous job in May (most companies that invited me to interview had positions available for which I was a terrible match. In addition, three temp services have called for me to come in–every temp service I’ve called has told me to send my resume and wait, and most never call), but was laid off due to budget cuts. That cannot be considered laziness by a reasonable person. I’m not sure what you’re talking about in terms of devoting time to my meal planning, which I certainly don’t other than knowing when I have to be at the shelter to get the free food, which is very small in quantity, but you apparently did not notice where I wrote that.

      I was nearly vegetarian before I entered the shelter system, but for budgetary reasons, I eat what they provide. There is excessive red and processed meat in spite of reports that no quantity of these meats is safe and they all shorten life span, which seems to be the primary goal of the shelter system.

      When I came home in 2007 for my father’s memorial, my mom said to me, “If you were responsible, you’d have a family of your own to take care of.” I disagree with that notion 100%. As a responsible person, I have not had children that I cannot support, nor have I ever been misleading to any woman about my financial status, which has kept me perpetually single.

  2. Kimmy permalink

    My husband lost his job at the mill and then he had to take a job at burger king which didnt work out. He then took two jobs at the local feed store and another at walmart working nights. He didnt have time to sleep in, he barely slept at all and we were grateful to have food on the table, even if it wasnt what we preferred. You sound like you feel like gourmet meals should be provided to you. Maybe you lost a fancy job and you just need to be realistic and thankful for having any food to eat at all, and a roof over your head. This is what Im saying to you. Thank Jesus.

    • I am saying that your comment spews ignorance. Please explain how one can choose when to wake up when the use of electrical sockets is prohibited. You cannot claim that I choose to sleep in when I do not have access to alarm clock. The only electrical socket in my area is on the ceiling above someone else’s bed, and he’s not even willing to use it because it would be too conspicuous and get whatever he plugged in taken away.

      I never hand a fancy job, just a fancy degree. I’m medically limited to a desk job, but haven’t been able to get a full-time job that paid more than $9 an hour. I’ve had jobs that paid more that, but they were less than half time. I’ve even tried to get retail jobs, but no one will hire me for one since I haven’t had retail experience since 1996. Even the Apple Store wouldn’t hire me to do customer service in spite of multiple recommendations because they refuse to interview someone who didn’t work retail in one of their previous three jobs.

      The city pays the shelter $3,500 per person housed per month, as stated in Picture the Homeless’s pamphlet, Banking on Vacancy. For that, the living conditions and food need to be better. these are the worst conditions I have ever lived in. Last year, I had a very nice apartment in the Bronx for less than $1,000 per month. For $3,500, I should be getting more, not less, particularly since the only services I could use are services that the shelter system does not provide, since they keep sending me to job programs where they know how to get people only retail and food service jobs that I am not physically qualified to do. that is why I think that the city should simply rent me an apartment rather than allow the shelter to profiteer form making me miserable.

      • tigger0679 permalink

        Perhaps if you were nice to other shelter recipients, you might find someone willing to help make sure you don’t oversleep. But if you’re as nasty to all of them as you are on your blog, then that probably won’t work.

  3. tigger, the man is under a lot of stress and being fed food he considers poisonous. Yes he could be attempting to react more diplomatically however circumstances like this would be tough for even a saint.

    scott, I know what you’re going through, and I can’t believe how much worse men’s shelters are than women’s shelters. We could use the electrical sockets to recharge phones or plug in alarm clocks, and meals were announced over loudspeaker.

    When I was in the “best” shelter in Toronto, I watched a staff member pick a fight with another woman there and get her kicked out. She then tried to do the same to me but I was able to be diplomatic and defuse the situation. It’s tough. Writing this as an expose, no matter how NEEDED it may be to let others know what’s going on, isn’t going to help your situation in the shelters. Quite simply, you need to learn to asskiss and be grateful for every scrap.

    I’m not the best at asskissing either, which is why I can completely sympathize. On the other hand, at least you have a roof and a relatively safe place to sleep. That IS something to be grateful for! Logically, it would be cheaper for the City to just house you. This isn’t about logic anymore, this is about surviving the situation with as positive an experience as you can muster.

    Take notes privately of the abuses. Publish the expose after you escape. Find something good to write about every day, for the sake of your own mental state if nothing else.

    • I don’t think asskissing is the appropriate response when this shelter is profiteering $3,500 per month by my presence there.

      I refuse to be grateful for food that makes me and everyone else in the shelter sick. The public needs to be outraged about how their tax dollars are being used to treat people like garbage. That’s the only way to implement change.

      • tigger0679 permalink

        Don’t think of it as asskissing – just be diplomatic and treat people with kindness even if it’s undeserved. This is an important skill that will be useful in finding and retaining a job, and will also help get you out of the system.

        You aren’t going to change the system from within – first, you have to get yourself out. Then, after you’ve calmed down, you should write a well-thought exposé and carefully consider how to publish it for maximum impact.

      • I always say “thank you” for the food, and I don’t act like a jerk to the caseworkers, security, and so forth, except on the rare occasions that they set me off, like when they confiscated some canned food I was carrying in my bag for consumption at a later date. I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I’m normally rude to the staff. Occasions such as calling the director of my previous shelter an idiot are not the norm of my conduct, but, as I describe in the post “Eddie Harris Men’s Shelter: Human Rights Abuses and Racketeering,” I think I was well justified in making that comment.

    • At my previous shelter, they announced meals over the loud speaker, and nobody stopped me from going to breakfast in my pajamas, since they didn’t do any other sort of wake-up call.

      At my current shelter, we’re allowed to charge our phones in the dining room only. Needles to say, the demand is high. At my previous shelter, the security would stop us from doing even that and say that technically they’re supposed to confiscate the phone.

      These people want to trap us in the system to make money for them, not get jobs and get out.

  4. kimmy permalink

    Sounds like your an ungrateful P++++, Nobody wants to ” trap” you anywhere. You trap yourself with your negativity. I dont know what makes you think you deserve special treatment. I predict you will live a long, sad, pitiful existance mainly due to your poor attitude. Its a shame really.

    • You don’t even have a basic grasp of English grammar and usage, not to mention logical reasoning. I have been extremely clear why I think the way they treat us at the shelter is obscene. They know it’s obscene, because they are uncomfortable with me talking about it on my blog. Nowhere have I asked for special treatment. I simply said that I should be treated as someone with a physical challenge rather than as an addict, since I am a person with a physical challenge and am not an addict. Your allegations that I am asking for special treatment, that no one is trying to trap me, that I trap myself, and that I have a poor attitude are all ideological arguments that you have made without the support of any evidence.

      I am not the only person who gets sick from the food at Project Renewal, and the entire world should know that fact.

  5. Sha Sha permalink

    Kimmy, I agree with you this guy sounds a cry baby. He doesnt appreciate anything or have anything useful to say. He just rants on and on, such negativity! Scott you sound like a very bitter human being. You like to insult people for their opinions but you put yourself out there on your blog………….what the hell did you expect? I guess everyone has to feel sorry for you and throw money at you, which is probably what you are looking for anyways.

    • Excuse me, what useful thing did you have to say here? How does a rational human being come to the conclusion you did that calling for specific reforms to shelter policy is not useful speech? I am not looking for anyone to throw money at me. I want to get a job and leave the shelter system, and I am doing it with absolutely no help from anyone else, because no one will provide me with any. I’ve been given lip service without any follow-through.

  6. Red headed raven permalink

    LMAO, nobody helps me you cry baby, man up and quit being a little b++++. I suggest that they euthanize you , this way its a win win. You shut the hell up and the tax payers can stop paying for your whiny a++

    • This is clearly Jillian King, barbarian queen, sockpuppeting again. No sane human being would make such a comment. Clearly, this person is an ally of Grover Norquist and a Republican, which shows how fringe the party has become.

  7. falafel permalink

    When are you going to restart the hunger strike?

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