Ziploc This

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

The title may be a bit misleading [apologies, I know you were all looking so forward to an expose on zippable freezer storage]. I’ve been trying to shove a lot of information into a single post on what I’m about to share, but turns out, it really needed to be a blog-series. And here we are.

Rewind…

In the earliest days of 2016, I stood atop the short cement staircase leading up to the Suntrust of Winston-Salem, NC in the drizzly rain. I had stashed my umbrella as I took turns sitting on my luggage or standing near it. Gingy, perched atop my backpack in his brand new raincoat, people-watched with me as we waited for Drew to come out from cashing our final Christmas gift.

A man came out of the bank. He ran to his SUV. Returning briefly, he handed me a Ziploc bag. “This is from our church. I had an extra. God bless!” he said, rushing away before I could respond. He also shoved some cash in my hand. The bag had Christmas gift-wrapped shapes in it which later turned out to be sample soaps, shampoos, a toothbrush and toothpaste.

I don’t discuss it much here [you might say we’ve been healing from the experience], but Drew and I have been homeless on two occasions. Each time lasted about a year, and though we’ve a home now, we’re not fully out of the woods financially. The homeless -particularly homeless veterans- we think of them often. Because we get it… At least in part.

In our shoes…

When you’re homeless, one of the most difficult things is knowing what you’re missing. Whether it’s a hot meal that’s not watered down, a night away from it all with your partner, or over the counter allergy meds and a soft bed, something’s missing. It was the little things we used to be able to do… the things we could still be doing if we’d just had a home, a job, money to budget, etc. etc. etc. Drew and I were fortunate. We had some of our comforts with us. Others, we were able to purchase over time. Some were jimmy-rigs or things I wouldn’t have thought to use in a certain way if I hadn’t been homeless — such as peppermint lip balm spread over nostrils to clear a stuffy nose so I could sleep. But more often than not, the little things I found that were the most helpful to me, weren’t in ziploc baggies gifted me by kind strangers.

Ziploc letdowns…

Let me be clear, I’m not ungrateful for the bags we received, nor am I discouraging anyone from handing them out. In fact, quite the opposite. What bugs me about them is:

  1. Ziplocs severely limit the size of the donation.
  2. Though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saving a few bucks, many care package suggestion lists recommend purchasing items at dollar stores. The concern is that it gamifies the donation process by encouraging people to manage more output for less input. Anyone can feed 6 people for 1 meal by purchasing a box of Lance crackers for $1. That doesn’t make it a kindness.

What I fear people ignore when creating a care package:

  • Taste the granola / protein / cereal bar you just purchased before donating it. [To clarify, DON’T bite into a bar, carefully re-wrap and hand deliver to the homeless… purchase a single bar before buying a whole box and try it.]
  • Skin sensitivities / allergies are real. Yardley is a cheap, gentle soap.
  • Food allergies / diabetes / hunger are also quite legit. Please be considerate of this.
  • Women on the streets often do not have access to feminine hygiene products. How about an extra-special care package chocked full of Kotex, chocolates, various Doritos, and a gift card to Pizza Hut with enough to pop a stuffed crust on that sucker? For those in the audience hesitating, the alternative is meeting this lovely lady
  • Collapsible dishes. Give a man a can of soup and he can carry it. Give a man a collapsible bowl and a soup and you’ve just donated a little of his independence back.
  • A woman handed me an unopened can of soup once in the bus station. She looked hungry and I knew her to be homeless. I asked didn’t she want it. She shook her head, eyes shimmering a little. Said she didn’t have a can opener or a way to heat it… thought I might like it. So try to be sure the can lid is a pop-top.

If you’ve questions, ideas or suggestions, feel free to include them in the comments below.

Thank you for reading.

FP

Enjoyment

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Couple weeks back, I was on the phone with my bank. To make a very long story short, I decided it’s time to ask my bank how one goes about handling their debt situation from post-homelessness forward.

Toward the end of the surprisingly pleasant and extremely encouraging call, the representative with whom I spoke spent about five minutes explaining she gets calls like mine more often than not; only her callers are usually more hung up on the gory, angering details of their circumstances than approaching them in a calm manner. She practically thanked me for the , in which I face adversity.

We still have a lot of work to do to build out of the hole we’re in. And it’s going to be frustrating. But I want to take this moment to speak to those of us — myself included — who are going / have gone through a lot of shit.

I just got this gorgeous bracelet from CharisBlooms. The centerpiece states “enjoy the Screenshot_2017-05-02-14-57-42-1journey”. I love this message. When we were homeless, there was so much I disliked about it. But it was also a time in our lives that the world held near endless possibilities — and that, I appreciated.

There’s a laundry list of things I could’ve complained about on the streets. But as much as I didn’t want to be there, I also enjoyed the freedom of it. There’s something definitely freeing about sleeping wherever you find yourself. About carrying most [if not all] you own with you.

Wherever life has taken you. Whatever you’re doing in this moment. Enjoy. It. And if you don’t — if you cannot — have the courage to walk away. Journey onward to the next great thing.