Took this woman to Catholic Charities today. She had no more insurance. The treatment center couldn't afford to keep her. No one from her family wanted her. Her husband continues to carry her on his insurance but he refuses to live with her anymore. Her friends have all kicked her out. Apparently her husband and family have placed her in any number of situations, treatment centers, group homes, private apartments, hospitals etc. She walks out and starts drinking.
She wanted to stay in the center because she knew her next stop was the homeless shelter.
She was in her early 40's, tall, good looking, very well dressed, jewelry, manicure, yoga pants and an iPhone. The psychic effect of sitting next to her was that she seemed to be covered in long sharp spikes. She wanted to drag me into her problems. She did not feel she deserved any of this. She did not complain. She made demands. I told her. "I'm just a driver. I only go where I'm told. I'm not a cab driver. I don't drive people around at their whim. I'm not the person you need to address your complaints to".
She wanted me to stop so she could have a cigarette. She wanted me to take her somewhere to eat. She wanted me to get her into a different treatment program. She did not want to answer the questions on the Catholic Charities forms.
The people at Catholic Charities were very nice but they had seen it all. The client tried to bully them by acting "desperate". They ignored her. I told her, "These people are pretty used to desperate people. You're not going to get a rise out of them that way. I had to sit next to her. I felt as though I was going to be impaled on the spikes. I stopped talking to her and closed my eyes. I tried to relax and watch my breathing. I thought, "As awful as she is, she is really suffering. You're never closer to God than you are at moments like this". I made it a point to note that it was an almost perfect day. I noticed the garden at the Catholic Charities house. I noticed humming birds at the flowers in the garden. I got up and walked into the garden. An old cat walked over and lay down on the gravel path. She was friendly but did not want to get petted. I talked to her a little bit. The cat that is. I figured the client was not in any state that would allow her to notice flowers, or humming birds, or old cats. I thanked God that I could still notice those things. After that I felt a little safer.
There was a whole group of people waiting for an interview to be admitted to this six month program that would supposedly lead to employment and housing. I started talking about baseball to a guy who was waiting with us. He was sober 5 months. He had the heart of a lion. He talked about his sponsor. He said he was grateful for any help and willing take whatever help was offered to him. He was not happy about having to live in a shelter but he figured he'd be alright if he stayed on his current path. I liked him fine.
The client interrupted several times to announce that she was hungry and that she wanted me to get her something to eat. I got her a glass of water because she refused to ask the Catholic Charity people for water. Someone else should figure out that she needed water. She did not have the heart of any known mammal.
Partly out of curiosity and partly because she refused to answer any questions she didn't like, I went with her into the interview with the worker. When asked why she was homeless she started to talk about all of the people who had let her down. The worker asked, "Have you been recently released from jail or prison? Were you in a hospital? Were you evicted from your home? Did you leave your home because of domestic violence?". The client said she was homeless because her husband's insurance was no good.
Finally I looked at the worker and said, "She drinks." The worker thanked me and checked off the appropriate square. The worker told her she was accepted into the program and could go there right away. The client said, "I think I'll come by around 7:00 maybe 7:30". I explained that I had to go home and that she would be going to the shelter by 4:30 or 5:00. She didn't like that either.
I had to take her back to the center to pick up her things. She announced that she was going to get something to eat and take a nap and that we could discuss the time she was leaving afterwards. I went and got one of my bosses. I told him I was in way over my head with her. I reminded him that I'm only a driver too. He was going to have to convince her that she was going to be leaving shortly.
A few minutes later she came out with the first of two enormous suitcases. She also had a couple of shoulder bags and a a make up case. Remember, this is a women with jewelry, a manicure, an iPhone, etc. Someone from the center came out with the other enormous suitcase and we were on our way. She wanted me to stop at a shopping center. She wanted to know how many miles it would be to someplace where she could use a computer. She wanted me to take her somewhere she could use a computer. I took her to the shelter.
It was pretty goddam bleak. A former National Guard armory in the middle of a field. It was clean. It was quiet. She picked up one of the shoulder bags and said "Help bring my luggage in". She finally agreed to maybe take care of one of the enormous suitcases. Some of the clients looked troubled. Some of them just looked like anybody else. Almost everyone I saw seemed friendly enough. Several people said hello to us. I noticed that I felt perfectly comfortable around the homeless people in the shelter but the client made me want to jump out of my skin.
When we got her luggage inside, she threw herself down on a couch and said to me, "You've got a lot of goddam nerve doing this to me". I wished her luck and got out of there. I can't imagine what it will look like when she hits bottom.