Barry’s Newest Replacement

I’ve written in the past about my dealings with homeless people and my trying to help them, starting with Barry. And then a year after Barry’s death, there was his replacement, Daniel, with whom I was more successful. When I returned to San Francisco after a couple of years in Petaluma, I ran into him on the street and discovered that my gentle suggestions had born fruit. He’d gone to the Navigation Center (It provides aid for the homeless) and they’d put a roof over his head.

After I’d been back here in the city for a while, I started noticing that there were often homeless men in front of the doorway of a defunct business at the corner of Virginia and Mission. Then I started looking more closely and realized that it was always the same man. Shortly later I saw that he was often reading a book.

At some point I stopped and spoke to him, finding to my delight that he was articulate and entertaining; so I started stopping every time I passed and slipping him a dollar. And chatting. His name is Bob. He’s twenty years younger than I am and was in the Army in Germany a couple of decades after I was, so we have lots of war stories to exchange. His are a lot more interesting than mine because he was an expert at tiptoeing along the edge of trouble and sometimes fell over.

So why’s he on the corner? There are some gaps in his life story that have yet to be filled in, but what I do know is that he was doing just fine until he got an infection that worsened until the hospital could do no more than save his leg with the knee fused at a 30 degree angle. This makes walking extremely difficult, so much so that he now gets around in a wheelchair.

I’m not even sure what hospital he was treated in. We’d assume the VA hospital, but he was quite the fuck-up and it has occurred to me that his discharge might not have been the right color to get him access to VA benefits.

One thing for sure is that he’s so personable that, including many of us in the old folks’ home, he has a large coterie here who stop to say hello, hand him money, give him food, do errands for him, and just chat. All this makes his life much easier.

The good news is that one of the members of his coterie has offered him a free place to stay. What!!!! Unfortunately, it’s in San Mateo; but it’s close to downtown on flat streets, and he’s pondering it now.

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting doorway on Valencia:

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