Saturday, May 24, 2008

Peace Go With Ya Brother

It's raining. In May! This does not often happen.

I'm up late, reading the news, about the price of gas escalating, and the collapse of the housing market, and a possibly fatal crisis of the fiat money system, and the skyrocketing prices of food, and a dramatic raise in the price of biodiesel I'm paying, and just worrying about very hard times ahead. Not just how I will survive, but how everyone will. I'm reading a story about a Russian researcher who's uncovered evidence that suggests that nearly 7 million people starved to death in the USA between 1931 and 1932, using the same methodology that Russians recently used to uncover the starvation of the Ukranians (some history which the Communists suppressed) during the same period. I'm slowly processing the realization that this country will soon go through a convulsion that will make the Great Depression look like happy days.

I had parked in a place that felt sketchy to me. Too close to all-night activity. I was worried that I'd snore and then someone would call the cops (how can you be "stealthy" if you snore??!). I was going to stay up and then sleep in, so that my snoring would be covered by daytime activity.

It's getting close to 4AM, the Time That Bad Things Happen To Me In My Van.

I'm just about to go to bed. And then, at 3:45AM, I feel it... the van is moving from side to side! WTF? It wasn't windy. Wait, I know what that is... someone is climbing in to my van! I slam on the wall really hard. It doesn't stop anything... still more van shaking. Then the door to the box opens! Someone is not only in my cab, but trying to get in here to where I'm sitting! HEY!!! I yell, as loud as I can. I grab a big, thick flashlight (good for seeing-- or bludgeoning someone into unconsciousness). Someone in a dark coat closes the sliding door, climbs out, leaves the van, and closes the driver's side door. I hear him walking away. It's still raining. Who would be so brazen as to break in to a vehicle, and then just WALK away?

I spend a few minutes collecting myself. I resist the urge to go chase him down. After the raw, animal territorial fight instinct has dissipated, I realize that my van doesn't start so well, and I could be a sitting duck there turning the crank trying to start it. Hmm. I wait a few more minutes, thinking, and looking through my surveillance portals. I see a figure lumbering away, but slowly and with no apparent destination. WTF again?

So I take my flashlight, and climb into the driver's seat, and the thing starts right up. Whew.

The figure who apparently tried to break into my van, is shuffling along, a block away. I decide to leave the neighborhood, but feel compelled to go towards this guy instead of flee from him. Now that I've calmed down, I'm more curious, and no longer angry or afraid anymore.

The guy looks over his shoulder at me. He crosses and uncrosses the street. Then I figure it out. He has nowhere to go! He's not a car thief; he's homeless. It's raining. He was looking for a dry place to sleep. How did he get in though? Did I leave the door unlocked? That would have been very stupid of me, but possible. It was wet, and raining. Maybe the guy thought this was an abandoned van he could curl up in or a few hours to stay dry? And my whole feeling towards this guy changed. I felt a tremendous sympathy for him. I'm not that different from him. I kept hearing in my head the Gil-Scott Heron song "Peace Go With You Brother" (this link might work still: ), one of his lesser-known songs, and one I've been thinking about a lot lately.

I find a new place to park, a few blocks away, in a different direction from the one he was wandering in. I step out and look at the outside of the vehicle. No signs of break in; the lock appears not to have been tampered with. I guess I left it unlocked; how very stupid. I'd better be a lot more cautious about that.

The cab smells awful, vaguely of human feces. I feel itchy all over. Yep, that was it. Homeless guy, trying to stay dry. Suddenly I feel very lucky, very privileged, very rich, in my van. And very guilty for having been so vicious and territorial towards someone in such a hard situation.

I hope he makes it through the night OK. I definitely didn't want him in my van at 4AM, but I really regret not having found some other way to have helped him.

Peace go with ya, brother.

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