Homelessness Public Health Street Stories

My Name is Richard. And I’m Homeless…… Part III

(Just to be clear, this photo is not of Richard)

As long as Richard continues to send me journal notes,
I’ll continue to post them. I received the installment below about five days ago. It seems it was written a few days prior to my receipt of it. (I guess at first, Richard sent it to the wrong email address and discovered the error only when it bounced back.)

While I know Richard is bit embarrassed by having the painful details of his life online,
I think the fact that people have been so responsive, while it doesn’t magically solve his problems, seems to have at least leavened his mood. (Am I right about this Richard?)

I also want to note that Richard’s is another one of those stories
that would be difficult or impossible to run in a conventional news outlet—-mainly because I have not yet verified all the details of his situation.

I’ve verified some facts. For instance, I talked to a girl working at the front desk of the Motel 6 where Richard has stayed in the past and, although she didn’t know Richard’s name, when I described a few of the details I knew about him, she placed him right away and told me far more than propriety probably should have allowed.

(I have no reason to disbelieve Richard’s story. So, in the absence of proof, I am going with my best judgment. I assume readers are making up their own minds.)

In any case, here is the next journal installment,
with still more to come:

I find myself with some time to do some writing
so I’m sending you this. Not at “MOTEL SIX” anymore. I’ll let you know when you can call me.

I’m tired all the time. Whether that is because I’m on the streets and can’t get enough sleep or whether i’m just depressed all the time and want to sleep all the time is a matter for conjecture. One thing is sure. When I had a car I could rest by flinging the seat back and sleeping more comfortably. That’s gone now. So is time. I depend on the buses – and fortunately for me OCTA [Orange County Transit Authority] is pretty good— and that means trying to get anywhere takes some time. It takes even longer given my health. I should be tethered to an oxygen tank. But that is impossible. What that means is my “saturation levels” are marginal. Doctors warn me it could affect my vitals (including oxygen to the brain. (Can you say “mini-stroke?”) And my ability to walk is circumscribed. I’m lucky to go a block. Therefore I limit myself to what is directly off the bus stops. So my world is quite small.

I lug my belongings around in two bags. I’m looking for one of those carryalls with a handle but will have to wait till next month when I have some money. I use the net time to catch up on news. My biggest worry is becoming totally detached from the world. Street people are not too informed.

Sorry but I’ve got to say it.
I miss meaty conversations. I miss people. On the street there is little chance for social interaction.

And then four days later.

I asked someone to E-Mail this to you
but it looks like you didn’t get it. I bounced back into hospital for two weeks. More infections. And just to add to the fun my “Oxygen Saturation Rate” – i.e. the amount of oxygen my lungs are getting, has dropped just below 90%. That means I need outside help. Great! The doctor warned me that serious repercussions would arise from not using a tank or a concentrator. Try lugging that around! So the priority now is finding a room where I can stash all this. Still at level one of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs,” I’m afraid. I’ll try to add to the journal. Think I’ll discuss my debilitating bouts of depression. All I want to do is curl up and sleep and never wake up. This is really bad. It is hard to be lectured to and have no real way to do anything about it.



  • Despite Richard’s physcial limitations, he sounds as if he might fit into the group of unemployed that the Dept of Labor doesn’t consider as being unemployed, because they have given up. It’s hard to get motivated when problems have piled on top of you.

    People who are neither employed nor unemployed are not in the labor force…[including “discouraged workers.”] “Discouraged workers” report they are not currently looking for work for at least one of 4 reasons: 1) they believe no job is available to them in their line of work or area, 2) they had previously been unable to find work, 3) they lack the necessary schooling, training, skills or experience, or 4) employers think they are too young or too old, or they face some other type of discrimination.

    Don’t give up Richard–and, don’t be embarrassed. It’s better to sacrifice a little pride in exchange for finding that people care and are willing to help.

    You do have a job this week. It’s full time and it’s called “looking for a job.” It’s there.

  • Absolutely right Woody. Always take the unemployment figures with a grain of salr. Better indicator is the household survey that provides the percentage of working age adults in the work force.

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