Monday, July 21, 2008

Smart Mouse, Mean Cat

This morning I was talking to one of our vendors, a pretty together sort of guy who's been sleeping out in one of Seattle's finer parks. Not surprisingly, many of the "higher functioning" homeless people opt out of the largely oppressive and chaotic shelter system for the independence of taking care of themselves. This, given that the shelters are packed to the rafters, winds up working for everyone.

Except the City, which has declared war on people like him, and last year unleashed a campaign of systematic harassment. This includes defining homeless campers as criminals, throwing away their stuff whenever possible, and portraying them as urine-soaked vectors of disease and the source of the international drug trade.

"They leavin' you alone," I asked?

"Nah. I'm playing cat and mouse with 'em. There's no traffic in the middle of the night, so when the cruisers come through with their spotlights I always hear them first."

"Nice, stayin' a step ahead. Haven't they got anything better to do?"

"They do. But that doesn't stop them. I'm OK, but I could really use a good night's sleep."

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