Wednesday, June 7, 2017


Bart (not his real name) is not one of the coffee regulars.  He comes to coffee about once a week, usually when he looks over from his trailer two blocks away and sees the vehicle of one of his buddies.  His buddies are unfailingly generous.  The spot him money for a soft drink and, sometimes, breakfast.

Bart is, give-or-take, about sixty years old.  He works cash-money jobs, things like junking cars, busting transmissions to separate magnetic from non-magnetic metal, working the car wash or moping the laund-ro-mat...that kind of gig.  He is about seventy pounds overweight and sports a wallet attached to his belt with a logging chain.

This morning he was beside himself.  His property had been condemned and he was being forcibly relocated.  His mother bought the trailer in 1965 and has not aged gracefully.  He is not a man of means.

He had been assigned a social worker. She believes in tough love.  She gave him a choice:  The city mission which is infested with alcoholics, drug addicts and bed-bugs, or a squalid dump in Charlotte, Michigan.

I think Bart has ADHD and is not able to read.

He has never lived outside of Eaton Rapids city limits.  Charlotte is, in his mind, as far away as Wisconsin.  He also finds the duration of the lease, 6 months, to be an unfathomable amount of time.

Bart was so stressed he was about to puke.  Everything he had to do over the next three days was running over-and-over in his mind, forming a tangled Gordian knot.

I went out to the truck and found a pen and a Steno pad.

I sat down with him and his buddy "Suicide".

I labeled two pages "Wednesday", one page "Thursday" and one page "Friday".

And I just started writing things down.  Who...What...How...Where...When...  You get the drift.

When he repeated I said, "Already got that one."

Suicide had a smart phone.  We pulled up a map.  His new digs will be three blocks east of downtown Charlotte on Prairie Street.

I called his social worker and left a message.  Bart had seen the apartment in Charlotte.  It had wash basins knocked off the wall and sitting on the floor.  It had holes in the drywall.  I suggested, to his social worker, that she take a boat load of digital pictures when Bart moved in.  That way the county would not get stuck with repairing damage that was there when Bart moved in.  She never returned the call but Bart visibly calmed down after that call.  He was afraid that he would be on-the-hook for the damage....not that he had the means to pay for the repair.

Then I called his lawyer.  I left a message.  I told Bart's lawyer the street address of Bart's new apartment.  Unfortunately, Bart did not know the unit number, but lawyers are smart and can figure stuff out.  Bart calmed down a little bit more.

One of the major issues, for Bart, is that he has a small life insurance policy so he can be buried with dignity.  He is paying $25 a month for $15,000 term life which is an outrageous premium for a sixty year old non-smoker...but he is only playing with 42 cards in his deck.  His concern is that his policy will be cancelled and his body will be tossed into the city dump or sold to a medical school.  I wrote "Have Esther call Dupem and Screwem Insurance company with Change of Address info."

Bart was calm enough to cadge $5 from Suicide, walk up to the counter and order breakfast.

He had a list.  He was going to kick asses and then take names of everybody left standing.  Even if he cannot read it.

That Steno pad was the best $1 I ever spent, way more effective than Pexeva and a hell of a lot less expensive.

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