I finally got my hair cut today – only about 5 months overdue. My hairdresser is lucky to see me twice a year and while she often mixes up the personal details of my life (tonight she was convinced that my husband worked as a nurse) she somehow can remember just how I like my hair cut so that I won’t end up looking too much like Shirley Temple on crack. Curly hair is funny. People fawn over my hair until I tell them that I never comb it. I guess they must imagine that I spend hours each morning in front of a mirror. It looks worse if I fuss at it too much. The past week of unbearable humidity was enough to convince me that cutting most of it off was the only viable means of control. What I wouldn’t do for straight, well-behaved hair.
My hairdresser and I chatted about my new job at length; she’s very involved with her church and, as a result, has some experience with homeless families as oftentimes they’re put up in church buildings for a few nights when they don’t qualify for the help that my agency can provide. She was upset that people should have to sleep in church buildings on cots. If she only knew! People end up sleeping in churches here because they make too much money to qualify for the services offered to really poor homeless people. The families she knows of may be homeless, but they’re too rich for our programs.
I told her about the cases I’d been involved with this past week, my first few days spent at a desk and on the front lines:
* a woman and her son who had been evicted because she hadn’t bothered to pay her rent since December. We couldn’t help them long-term, but we offered them placement in a motel for a few days until they could make other arrangements, but they never showed up.
* a single man who’s been living on $140 a month who presented at our office last week drunk and disorderly and was taken to the hospital, by the police, for detox. He was discharged from the hospital without shoes and without anyplace to go. We put him up in a motel.
* a young mother who is about to be discharged from a residential drug treatment program; her family has turned its back and she has nowhere safe to live while she continues in recovery. It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to offer her anything.
* a young woman who’s wheelchair-bound, a victim of domestic violence, and who was put out of the nursing home she’s been living at because she’s a problem there. Her own parents won’t take her in because they fear the ex-husband as well. We turned her away, too.
* a homeless man who we know only by first name so far, reported to us by a phone call from a concerned neighbor who sees him living behind the dumpster of a bakery in her neighborhood. She says he is sick and dying, but has refused any help so far. As I was leaving the office today, we were trying to get someone out to look for this man.
So that’s been my week. Any wonder why my hair is looking a bit frazzled? Maybe a little more gray, already? Honestly, it doesn’t much faze me. I think that’s what bothers me most of all.