Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gimme Shelter

I had a pleasant experience at work the other day. Well, actually, it wasn't pleasant, but less hideous than I expected, which makes it pleasant by comparison. The fine city in which I reside is very homeless friendly. There are many programs and helps for them here, which combined with our mild climate, bring them here in droves. One of the services provided by the community for them is a cold weather shelter at a local church with free bus service to the shelter. Until recently, I have studiously avoided being the driver on the particular run that transports them to the shelter at the end of the day, but during the last round of route changes I unthinkingly bid on this very run for one day a week. So every Tuesday night I will have the privilege of transporting our indigent population to their beds. There have been issues and problems with these gentlemen before, issues of discourteous behavior, foul language, harassment of non-homeless passengers, not to mention the smell. I should add that most community shelters stipulate that a person must be sober in order to use their facilities. Not so our shelter. They can arrive in any state and and still be welcome. So last Tuesday was my first time and I expected to have trouble. These gentlemen have been issued passes for the bus that they are supposed to show as they get on. Most of the other drivers don't bother to check passes. They just want to get them on and off as quickly as possible. I'm totally anal about passes and fares, and so I told one of the men waiting at the bus terminal half an hour before their run that I would be checking passes and they should please have them ready when they got on the bus. I expected lots of complaining and abuse when the time came to load the bus, but they were all there with their passes ready. Only 3 of them didn't have them out when they got on the bus and they showed me on the way off. They sat quietly the whole trip, which I understand is VERY unusual. They thanked me respectfully when they got off. It was bizarre and I was frankly stunned. Hopefully this behavior continues, but even if it doesn't I'm thankful for the one peaceful night. The cold weather shelter ends in 3 weeks, so... :)


  1. wow... thats great. I remember when I worked at the prison, and there was only coffee drinkers in my group, I was totally surprised and stunned when after my first week of saying I didn't drink coffee because I was mormon...the following week there was a can of milo, with my name on it. I think when you start our with a higher than usual standard, most of the time, it seems...people rise to it. brava!

  2. Yes, I totally believe in self fulfilling prophecies and people rising to expectations, good or bad. I think they were surprised to be treated with respect and reciprocated in kind. Hope it stays this easy.