May 30, 2014

“Hey Rick. I haven’t seen you around.”

“Yeah, I kind of fell off the map. I lost my job last fall and couldn't find another one. I lost my apartment and ended up on the street.”

“You didn't have a place to live?” I asked.

“No. I was living in a sleeping bag under a bridge behind the Warehouse restaurant and spending the day in the park a couple of miles away.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah. I’m serious. Oh yeah, I almost died in January.”

“You did? What happened?”

“Remember that ice storm we had?” Rick asked.

“Yes, I remember.”

“I was at the park when it started to rain. By the time I got back to the sleeping bag I had stowed under the bridge I was soaked to the skin. I crawled into the bag and got it wet too. The temperature was dropping and it started sleeting. I started shivering and shaking and couldn't get warm.”

“That’s terrible. What happened?”

“Sometime during the night I passed out. The next morning someone found me under the bridge and thought I was dead. They called the cops, who checked me and found out I was still alive, but unconscious. The cops called an ambulance and I ended up spending five days in the hospital. They told me I almost died. My body temperature had dropped below what it’s supposed to be to keep you alive.”

I wanted to cry. How could this have happened to my friend?

“Rick, you could have stayed at our house!”

“I lost your phone number. I didn't want to bother anyone. I thought it would be a temporary thing. When I started sleeping under the bridge it was only getting down in the sixties at night.”

Where Do You Live Now?

“Are you still living under the bridge?”

“No. Someone I know ran into me in the hospital and he helped me get a job at a fast food place. After I worked there a couple of months I found another job in my field. I’m back in an apartment and doing good now.”

“Wasn't there some organization or church that could have helped you when you were on the street?”

“There were these people who fed us lunch every day in the park downtown. I’m not sure who they were, but I don’t think they had any place for me to get off the street.”

“They fed us lunch? Who is ‘us’?”

“Me and the other homeless people around here.”

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