What is Faith?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~ Hebrews 11:1

Monday, August 23, 2010

Obscene Littering

When I arrive back in Portland on the 15th of October, I will have been gone for just a few days shy of 6 months. Probably the biggest thing I have discovered about myself on this trip, is what a homeless snob I am.

I am used to going to the fridge and finding it full of vegetables, fruit, meats, condiments and juices available whenever the hunger urge strikes. I am spoiled by my Egyptian Cotton, 600 thread count sheets and a Therapeutic mattress topper that helps me sleep like a baby. I love my Internet capability which allows me to log on, on a whim.

The fridge has shrunk, and food is stored in a small cooler that needs to be replenished daily with ice. I brought my sheets with me, and yes I do use them. I told you I was a snob. The mattress topper wouldn't fit in the van however, and I truly don't sleep well at all cramped in the front seat of a mini van, especially with a bum hip and bad knees...but of all the wonderful things that money can buy, the thing I find I miss the most is my bathroom.

What I wouldn't give for the privacy of a shower curtain, or a toilet within walking distance of my bed. While in Washington, and Oregon we had rest rooms at our disposal what with all of the rest areas available for a travelers convenience. Since crossing the California border however, not only have our safe sleeping accommodations been taken away with the closure of their rest areas, but so has our ability to relieve ourselves privately, when nature calls in the middle of the night. So what do we do?

At first, we drove around looking for a 24 hour Safeway, or Denny's which never closes. Even they got further and further apart. Although completely unsanitary, I believe it is much easier for a man to answer the call of duty in the woods than a woman. Especially a middle aged woman with knees that don't cooperate therefore squatting is not an option.

Of course this got me to thinking right away about all of the homeless we have come across. Every once in a while, we would find someone crawling out from behind a bush, toilet paper roll in hand, so it was pretty obvious what how they spelled relief.

After more research, I found out that if caught in the act, the official charge is 'Obscene Littering.' Fancy name for such a touchy subject. I mean seriously, I think of places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, where homelesness is in abundance in the city streets. There aren't nearly enough beds to accomodate all of those people, and if their doors are closed once beds are assigned, where are the 6000 people on skid row to go? Answer...anywhere they can.

During the day of course is a different matter. There is always the local McDonalds, or library or other establishment whose doors must by law remain unlocked to the public. At night however, the police, for the most part, look the other way. They are overwhelmed by the homeless situation and it is far beyond their control to arrest 6,000 people each night.

More porta potty's need to be provided, if housing cannot. But it is not in the city's budgets to supply them let alone clean them once in a while. So what's the answer? I wish I knew. I'm working on it, but at the moment all I can do is worry about my own middle of the night call of nature.

What does this old lady do in the middle of nowhere? Sadly, when my bladder is beyond bursting, I do what all the other homeless women do. I pee in a cup, put a lid on it and empty this pocket sized honey bucket in the next available toilet.

No comments: