#315 Find Vick

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I’ve been thinking a lot about spending Christmas Eve as a homeless person. It’s been one of those slow burn type experiences where I process a little chunk of it every day.

I think a lot about Vick. Because he was nice to me when he had no reason to. He had a good heart and was a good man but just had a bunch of shitty stuff happen to him. I knew I wanted to try and do something for him but I didn’t know what.

I had given money to the LA Mission but that wasn’t helping him directly. He admitted himself that most of the money he had, he’d spend on drugs. So I didn’t want to give him money.

I remember him saying he was going to have to buy a blanket that night because his other one was stolen from him when he was sleeping. I have this sleeping bag I bought awhile ago for a trip to NY where I knew I was going to be sleeping on the floor of my friend’s apartment. Since then, I haven’t used it once. It’s an ok bag from REI rated at +55 degrees. So it’s not the warmest bag but it’s a helluva lot better than some random blanket or no blanket at all.

I decided I was going to find Vick and give him my sleeping bag.

Tonight I loaded my bike into my car and headed downtown. I figured it would be a lot easier to look for Vick on my bike rather than driving around in my car. Plus, if I pulled up in a new car, he was going to wonder where I got it from so quickly. My plan was to tell him I got work soon after I had met him so I was back on my feet and off the streets.

I parked in the same exact spot I did on Christmas Eve. But it was completely different now. I was wearing nice clothes and had a nice bike. I wasn’t homeless tonight.

The first place I looked was the doorway he was staying in on Broadway. I cruised by the area slowly on my bike. I saw a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk. He was covered in a blanket but I didn’t think that was Vick because this person hardly had any belongings. Vick had a backpack and at least two other bags the last time I saw him. Plus he was smart enough to stay in a doorway not out in the open like that. I saw an older black homeless man that I thought looked familiar. When I got to Vick’s doorway, I didn’t see him. There was woman with a small newsstand nearby and that was it for this block.

I biked up and down Broadway and Hill, looking at all the homeless people, hoping to see Vick. No luck. I went back to the same area where I started. I was not leaving without asking someone about him. The woman by the newsstand seemed to be the easiest person to ask first.

“Excuse me. Do you know a homeless man named Vick? He usually sleeps around here?” the woman shook her head.

I saw the older black homeless man nearby so I walked straight up to him. “Hey man, you know Vick?”

His eyes opened wide and he nodded. “White guy on the street?” I asked.

“Yeah. Yeah I know him,” he said.

“You know where he is?” I asked.

“Yeah, right there,” the man said, pointed up the street. The man seemed so eager to answer my questions, I suddenly wondered if he thought I was a cop.

“Up there?” I didn’t see anybody. The man nodded again so I walked up the street. There were no more doorways left. The only person around was the man under the blanket on the sidewalk. I pointed at him and looked back. The older black man nodded.

This couldn’t be Vick. Vick wasn’t this… bad off. I knelt down. I couldn’t see his face because it was covered by the blanket.

“Vick! Vick!” I called his name a dozen times trying to rouse him. Finally, he pulled the blanket away from his face a little and his eyes fluttered open a little bit. It was Vick.

“You’re Vick right?” He muttered yes. “From Oregon?” A little more recognition as he nodded. Then he closed his eyes again. I kept shouting.

“Vick! Do you remember me? I met you a couple of weeks ago on Christmas Eve!”

He opened his eyes again, this time wider.

“You helped me out. Remember?” Now he seemed to be waking up, really looking at me.

“Yeah,” he said, still not sure.

“Christmas Eve. We were in the other doorway,” I said. Now he sat up, awake.

“Yeah! I remember you! We were at the square. We watched the skaters!” He smiled.

I thanked him for helping me out. I said I was feeling so low that night and it was so good to talk to him. I asked him how he’d been. He told me he had been pretty sick for the last week. I didn’t ask him what happened to his stuff. It was hard to see him like this. He seemed so much better off the last time I saw him.

I gave him the sleeping bag and he seemed really happy. “I’m gonna stay warm tonight,” he said. I told him that I had gotten a job and he was glad.

“You want a drink or something?” I asked him since he had offered to buy me one before. “Well, if you’re gonna go, maybe some orange juice.”

So I went and bought him a giant bottle of juice and brought it back to him. He sucked half of it down in the blink of an eye.

“Hey, I just wanted to say thanks again. You really helped me out. You’re a good guy. Don’t give up hope ok? Stay strong,” I said.

“I’m never gonna give up. Never ever. They’re not gonna make me,” he replied, grinning back at me.

“And try not to do so many drugs,” I said. He laughed and then sighed. “Yeah. Yeah,” he said sadly.

And that was it. I wanted to let him sleep since he was sick. I shook his hand and promised to check back in with him when I could.

When I got back to my car, it sounds so stupid, but I cried. I don’t know why. Life is so weird and fucked up sometimes. Some people have so much and some have so little. I don’t know. I guess you’ll go crazy trying to figure it out.

I feel like a dick fucking around and lying to Vick but what else could I do? It would be too hard to explain everything and that might make things worse.

I started up my car and headed home.

Hopefully Vick gets some good use out of the sleeping bag. And I’ll find him again soon.

4 Comments to “#315 Find Vick”

  1. Charise 14 January 2012 at 12:22 am #

    I can understand why you feel bad about lying to him, but at least you were able to give him something to keep him warm, and some food to help him recover, and you treated him like a human being. I’m sure those kindnesses meant a lot to him.

    • Greg 14 January 2012 at 9:22 am #

      Thanks. I hope so.

  2. julie 14 January 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Greg, this was the most touching entry ever. Good for you and thank god for this blog.

    • Greg 14 January 2012 at 10:27 pm #

      Thank you. It was tough and bummed me out.