Sunday, August 22, 2010


A Woman approached us and looked in Dave's trailer. She was hesitant because together we made a strange hobo team. Then she braved up and said, "Do you have my recycling bin?"
"No," said Dave
"Well, you took it from my yard."
"No, I didn't," said Dave. He was rocking a little faster than he had been a moment before. Dave rocks probably because the motion eases his joint pain. We've all found ourselves rolling our shoulders to make a pain go away. Imagine if that pain never went away. You'd just keep rolling your shoulders.

"You did. I saw it in your trailer," said the woman. "It was in your trailer and it was mine. I told you that you could take the bottles and cans but leave the bin."
She walked back to her utility vehicle. She as trying to be assertive without being too rude to an obviously disadvantaged person.
"It's not a big deal but it cost me fifteen dollars to replace it," she said. "That was kind of shitty."
Then she drove away.
Dave shrugged and said to me, "I use plastic bags. I don't use the green bins.

Dave was born in Vermont. He said he'd go back there if he had the money. He has no family there anymore but the idea of home always moves us onward.
Dave has rheumatoid arthritis. He takes darvocet for the pain and during the interview he had to wash some darvocet down with coffee from a reusable mug. He moved like I've seen people move who have had their spines fused.

Crossroads is full of people like Dave. Not everyone can get a job or navigate the labyrinth of social services. And when that happens they either go to the woods or get directed to Crossroads. I know what awaits me at Crossroads which is why I won't go there. Dave shook his head when I asked him to describe it to me.
"I wouldn't send my dog there," he said.
The staff is unhelpful, demeaning, domineering.
"They treat you like dirt," said Dave. "They don't want to help."

30 people per room. You must have a welfare or social service referral. Alcohol and drug tests are daily and mandatory. Lights on at 5:30 am, you must be out by 8 am. Breakfast is coffee and doughnuts.
"You're lucky if you get a doughnut," said Dave because the food is usually gone.

Dave was ticketed a few weeks ago. I was on my way to work and I saw the police dealing with Dave and I remember thinking that the story there was more important than where I was going. But I continued and promised myself that when I saw that guy next I'd get an interview. Well, the universe provides and he rolled past my van when I was eating an apple.
"Get some good cans?"
"How about $2 for an interview? And an orange?"
"And pictures?"
Turns out the ticket was for scavenging. $124. Dave's income is $100/ week in unemployment and $64 a month in food stamps. He collects cans in New Hampshire and pays someone to take them to Amesbury, Mass where there is a deposit exchange. They make $100 a trip and the driver gets $40.
"You don't seem violent, Dave."
"I'm not. But an officer, the bald one, told me he was sick of seeing me around town. He wanted me out. Said he'd kick my ass."
"That seems uncalled for."
"Damn right."

He came from Vermont and worked at Exeter High School in the maintenance department. The first heart attack left him weak but he found ways to be useful at the school. The second heart attack earned him a pink slip. Dave's unable to work but social security denied his benefits.
"That don't make sense," he said.
"No, it doesn't."

Dave might go to Arizona because he has family there. It might be better for his joints also. But he said travel assistance would only get him to Manchester.
So he plans to keep finding cans and plastic bottles and selling them. He doesn't mind living in the woods since Crossroads is so unpleasant. You treat a man like a child and eventually he forgets what it's like to be a man.

He didn't ask me for any money. He even complimented my vespa ciao and gave me advice about the rooming house on Islington and how RV campers are staying at the walmart parking lot. This is useful advice to me since I'm tramping it now. He didn't smell like booze or swear.
"The economy is bad and getting worse," he said.


Anonymous said...

I just heard that Walmart will let homeless people camp in their parking lots at night for like $5.00. I think there was an incident where someone was raped or killed in their parking lots in OK or someplace and now they have security and will let you stay the night.

ed said...

damn shame...never take anything you have for granted.

Anonymous said...

So did he steal the ladies bin or what?

Oggy Bleacher said...

We'll see how many 11 hour days crimping fiber optic cables I'll be able to do. It's a grind that will send you to an early grave if you aren't careful. I see Farady control modules in my sleep and my veins have turned the color of a blue receive connector on the FO wire. Can't type. Van will be illegal in a few days and I need help with the body work. No holes are allowed in the inspection. Anyone have a rivet gun or an inside crooked inspection mechanic? Come on!

Did Dave steal the bin? If he did he probably thought it wasn't stealing at the time. He's not a thief so it's hard to define what happened.

Anonymous said...

Watts Racing garage in Seabrook, will throw a sticker on that thing from the soda machine outside the building.. I have a rivet gun and bondo, I would like to paint it as well..

Oggy Bleacher said...

brake lines need work before the paint job. and exhaust. and I've got a guy in La Paz who does cheap body work. and upholstery.
let's go to Labrador and then jet down to Guatemala for the winter...

hardworker said...

i love this blog

Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.