A homeless mother’s day so far….Posted by in Homelessness
This morning I managed to get Maggie up and dressed in time to get to a job orientation/training that I thought started at 9:00 am. Turned out it was actually 9:30 and I got there an hour early! I spent 5 hours watching job orientation and training videos without a break but I figure it’s worth it and a good sign I’ll be hired. While at the orientation, I got a desperate voicemail from Amanda, a 19 year old homeless mother who called me from the motel she was staying at because she has no cell phone. She said she called every place she could think of for shelter resources but had no luck. She then asked if I knew of some place she could put her 2 year old’s stuff if they ended up outside tonight. I checked my account and there is only $7 in there and my food stamps don’t reload until tomorrow. By the time I get out of this orientation and get to Kent, I have no idea where Amanda will be exactly since she has no cell phone and I have a quarter of a tank of gas left. I didn’t eat today and thanks to school meals, Maggie had breakfast and lunch.
If I’m lucky there might be some fast food gift cards at my mailbox I thought, so I drove to my new private mail box only to find an empty office suite with a sheet of paper taped to the glass saying everyone’s mail had been forwarded to the post office and thanks for 18 years of business! For a homeless person, this is major road block. I just got this mail box and had paid a year up front for it after the mail box I had in Federal Way closed down. It took over a month to come up with $150 to pay for that year in advance plus somebody to sponsor me a residential address to use because if you don’t have a residential address to put down, you can’t get a p.o. box! You have to have something sent to the residential address so that you can take that piece of mail to the p.o. box to show you have an address before they approve you for a p.o. box. The reason I use a private mail box is because when people send me packages via UPS or FedEx, they won’t send to a regular p.o. box because somebody often has to sign for the delivery.
Not having any kind of address is a major barrier for homeless people, now that mine has been taken away, what’s gonna happen when I try to apply for more jobs? I can’t leave the address section on a job application blank! Speaking of jobs, the orientation instructor said the hiring manager wanted me to call her back to see if I can come back in on Friday so they could talk about setting me up with a client so I’m thinking this means I’m hired but….and oh it’s a heavy but….now that it’s the beginning of a new month, my cell phone carrier is sending me messages to pay the monthly fee I don’t have. If you think not having an address is bad, not having a phone is worse and the race is on! I only have until the fifth before the phone goes offline….
I managed to do one load of laundry yesterday which consisted of our coats and a couple of outfits for Maggie because that’s all the money I could spare since the bulk of what I had went into the gas tank. That means we have one more day of clean laundry left. Thanks to Shaun King and Hope Mob, we have a hotel room to stay in for a week because normally right about this time, I get Maggie from school and depending on how much gas I have, we will wait for sunset at either Fred Meyer’s, McDonald’s, the library or simply in a crowded parking lot at a shopping mall or mega store. Once it’s dark and again this all depends on how much gas we have, we will drive to a rest stop for the night, or find a quiet street without a lot of traffic to spend the night. If I end up sleeping on a street, I have to take short naps or hide behind an abandoned building or foreclosed house so the cops don’t see us and try to move us out of the area.
When I got to Maggie’s school, she was sitting at a desk drinking from a carton of milk and eating a cherry turnover with the rest of her classmates. The school has these snacks thanks to the fantastic efforts put out by the Auburn Food Bank. When Maggie saw me standing in the doorway, she smiled then got a funny look on her face. She got up from her desk and went to the snack table and brought me a carton of milk and one of the turnovers and said “Happy Birthday Mommy. I know it’s not much but I wanted you to have something.” Maggie saw her teacher and asked if it was ok to give me what she had in her hands and the teacher smiled and nodded. I had been so busy running around, I forgot what day it is today but…to be honest…I lost interest in my birthday a long time ago.
On the way back to the motel, I almost instinctively started to head towards the rest stop for the night. Usually when we get there, Maggie and I have a nightly ritual we follow that sounds like this:
“Ok Maggie, time to get in the backseat and get in your sleeping bag.” I lean back and look into the rearview mirror to see if she’s getting ready to go to “bed”. Once she’s settled into her sleeping she usually asks me to read her a story or turn on the radio to her favorite classical music station. Once she starts yawning she will say “Goodnight Mommy, I love you.” I reply “Good night Maggie, I love you too. See you in the morning!” Maggie will smile in the dark and say “See you in the morning.”
Depending on whether or not I have insomnia that night, I will fall asleep not long after Maggie does. Tonight we will be spending the night indoors at a different location only this time, our nightly ritual will include me snuggling with Maggie on a hotel bed as she falls asleep in my arms.