Sadly, this is my last week here at Andre House. That does not mean my week has been devoid of confrontation and drama.
Yesterday, I had a man walk up to me and ask if I spoke Spanish. When I answered that I could speak a little, he began speaking in rapid fire Spanish. Even after I told him "lento, lento" (slow), he kept right on chugging along. I caught a few "tengo"s and casas but that was about it. Eventually after a look around the dining room, he seemed content and left.
Today was a particularly interesting Pascente office shift. One of my favorite guests, the woman from Akron, came in and we talked for a while about the city to which I am returning. She even asked me to write down my name as she was leaving so that she could keep me in her prayers. At the same time, a woman came in to make a phone call, and half way through I noticed she was crying. I waited for her to finish, and then asked if she was alright. She replied that she had been arrested the night before because someone had used her ID to commit some kind fraud. She now had to pay over one thousand dollars in fines in order not to go to jail and she was selling everything she owned. I could not have felt worse for someone.
Howver, the biggest event of the day for me was undergoing a rite of passage that almost every staff undergoes: being called Un-Chirstian. To be honest, I was probably a little to excited about it afterwards, but I guess it was better than taking it personally.
I man walked into the office, sat down in a chair, and announced "I want to kill a lot of people." Not a great start. He angrily complained about having to run around to different organizations to get different services, and how everything that he had owned had been stolen while he was in the hospital. I could understand his frustration, as navigating the bureaucracy of social service organizations is incredibly difficult. He said he had a job interview in an hour and a half and needed a shirt nicer than the one he was wearing. Alicia went to get him shirt and I thought the problem was over.
However, he stormed back in with his new polo and slammed it on my desk. He argued that he should have been allowed to go in to shop for new shirts, and that the one that he was given was too heavy. I explained we could not make an excuse for him, but he continued ranting that the shirt was way too hot for him and he wanted a lighter t-shirt like the one I was wearing. When I tried explaining that he had a much better chance of getting a job with the polo than with a food stained t-shirt like mine, he threw the polo in the trash, called me un-Christian, told Fr. Eric he was a hypocrite and didn't follow Jesus, and left. I felt bad because he did say he was an Iraq war veteran. However, he was being completely unreasonable (although the t-shirt might have gone better with his mohawk).
O and I kicked out a drunk wheelchair operator at dinner, another first. The fun never ends!