Saturday, August 23, 2014

Faces Of The Homeless Part 2 - Lurch

Tonight (Friday) I was back at work at the Christmas shop. During a lull in customer traffic, I looked in on Facebook and discovered that one of my favorite local musicians, Danielle Hicks, was performing just three doors up from me at Dub's Public House and I decided to drop in and listen to a set after work.

It was shortly after 9:15 that I stepped into Dub's. There was no music playing, but I could see that guitars and mics were set up in the main room and I sidled up to the bar to get a glass of wine and speak with Julia, the bartender for the evening. Then I discovered that Danielle was eating her dinner at the end of the bar while she was taking her break and we exchanged greetings.

I was enjoying a glass of cabernet and sitting at a high top table in the main room listening to Danielle rock the blues, when a very tall, rather dirty and glassy eyed young man entered the room wearing a bright mustard yellow t-shirt and a very, very large back pack. He stood, transfixed, when he heard Danielle sing and kept approaching ever closer into her space. Eventually he was enthusing almost right in her face and I got up to alert Julia and the bar staff about the potential problem. They were very good about getting this stranger to back off and take a seat. Unfortunately, he chose to take a seat with a young couple at their table near the "stage" and they almost immediately fled. 

A young server, whose name I never did catch, immediately came to see if she could take this man's order. He produced some cash and they determined what it was on the menu he could afford. While his dinner was being prepared, the disheveled young man,once again, got up and approached the performer, getting almost right into her face while she was singing. This time, one of her friends went to get the bar help. Julia once again told him to take a seat and came over to tell me that third strike he'd be out.

Danielle completed one more song and went to take a break. I took that opportunity to sit with the disruptive stranger and offer him a dollar to take his picture. As you can see, after a startled moment, he willingly complied. I asked him his name, which he told me was Lurch. I told him I was pretty sure that was not his real name and he agreed saying he wasn't going to tell me his real name. That made perfect sense to me.

I asked him to tell me his story, which he did, and before long I had his real name and had even sent him a friend request on Facebook. I was surprised that he had a Facebook and asked him when he had the opportunity to get on Facebook. He assured me that he had a cell phone.

He said that he chose to be homeless so he could get to see humans as they really are. He also told me that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. He told me the name of the medication that had been prescribed for him, but I seriously doubt that he's been taking it.

Lurch, or rather, Jason, told me about coming from a small town in Florida outside Orlando and about his mother with her 31 cats. He said that one cat, Snuggles, was really his. According to him, he's been homeless for 15 years and rides the rails (he said this while pointing to what looked like a self inflicted tattoo on his wrist that looked to resemble barbed wire or perhaps railroads.) Then he pointed to his beaded bracelet with a single Hello Kitty charm. He loves Hello Kitty. She always makes him smile.

Apparently he's lived all over, but plans to spend yet another winter in upstate New York. I was quite alarmed at hearing this and I told him he couldn't survive. But he seemed quite confident, saying he's done it once, it got to 15 degrees below, and he can do it again.

What a life story for a man of only 31 years of age. He tried to talk me into buying him an "alcoholic beverage" but I refused. I told him I'd buy him a soft drink or an ice tea and he chose coffee instead. He said he'd like hazelnut creamer, but in lieu of that would settle for lots of sugar and creamer instead. Dub's doesn't have hazelnut creamer, so they eagerly supplied the requested sugar and cream.

I was tired and needed to call it a night. Danielle was taking the stage again and I told Jason of my concern with him entering Danielle's personal space and intimidating her (although I admit that she and everyone at Dub's handled this man with the utmost grace). He apologized, saying that he hadn't realized he'd done that, he just loved her voice, and promised to stay seated for the rest of her performance. He also promised to visit the Christmas shop tomorrow as his mother loves ornaments and he wants to get one for her.

What a night.


Risa said...

How beautiful that you took the time to get to know this young man...I'm sure most people choose not to "see" him. Thank you for sharing his story.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Risa. I work in an area where I'm around them all the time and they are growing in number. Talking to some police officers this evening they said the reason why there seem to be so many more recently is because the word has gotten out that Savannah is a hospitable place for the homeless. That presents a double edge sword. It would help if more people chose to "see" them. It can be a slippery slope, though.