Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lonnie the Loadie

Yesterday I met this cat on the street named Lonnie, or Lonnie the Loadie which I think suits him best. It had stopped raining and he was hanging around the United Nations Plaza just killing time. At least that's what he told me. He had a nice little pull cart filled with his clothes, basic toiletries, and a clean sleeping bag and blanket. I was a little envious of his set up because my bag was so heavy and was becoming too much of a burden for me to carry. But even though he had a sleeping bag and blanket and I didn't, he was complaining about the rain from the night before because he was forced to do laundry two days in a row. Apparently, he had taken the time to clean up his bedding at the laundry mat and because of the rain the other night, it was completely soiled and he was forced to do it again.

I asked him where he slept last night and he told me that he had found an alley just off of Market Street but according to him it wasn't his usual spot. His usual spot was under the over pass at 850 Bryant Street. "You usually sleep outside of the City Jail?" I asked him. "Wouldn't you rather stay as far away from the cops as possible, especially if you are sleeping on the streets?" He assured me that it was the best place in the City to sleep because the cops generally leave folks alone there. Plus, if anyone tries to mess with you they are right there to help. One cop even gave him five bucks the other day and told him where he could get some more free clean blankets on 9th. "I like to stay there because it protects me from the wind and the rain and plus, there have been two times where someone tried to light me on fire when I was sleeping! I figure the cops are like protection for me."

I was curious as to why Lonnie the Loadie hadn't made it down to his usual spot that night before. When I asked, he said that he was too loaded from smoking too much weed the entire day and couldn't make it there before the rain started pouring. Lonnie didn't look like the kind of guy who would sit on the street and beg for money, he seemed too savvy so I asked him about his financial situation. I know that this would normally be a personal question but on the streets, no question is out of the question. Lonnie the Loadie has been receiving disability benefits for the last 15 years and the government deposits his money into a bank account every month. A bum with a bank account, I thought. How modern!

When Lonnie was a child in Indiana, he was sexually abused by his father for so many years that he had developed a post traumatic stress disorder and that is why he was able to receive benefits from the government. He even said that he is receiving good money for it, enough to get an apartment in the City of his own. However, he wanted to save all of his money for weed and booze and preferred to stay in the streets instead. I remembered what Ray the Cleaner had told me before. Don't get too comfortable on the streets or you will never be able to get out. I guess that Lonnie the Loadie was the perfect example of this scenario and while I had only made it a few days outside, I was certain that I would not let that happen to me.

Lonnie asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint with him and when I declined he simply said, "To each his own." I wished him luck and he wished me the same and we parted ways. "I'll see you around bro," he said and I hoped that I wouldn't but I didn't let him know that.

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