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Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Citizen’s Arrest

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2013 at 2:25 pm

208095_515009170938_4997_nI was in the kitchen at Central Night Shelter one evening reading notes the volunteers had left about the previous night. I heard a commotion and looked up to see a couple of the volunteers running across the gym floor. As they reached the door to the kitchen, they both began talking at the same time.

“Slow down!”, I said. “What’s going on??”

One of the volunteers took a deep breath and said, “Steve’s wife is in labor and he needs to leave right away. He can’t get out of the parking lot though because some guy is parked in the middle of the driveway. Can you come down and see if you can help us?”

Steve was one of our overnight volunteers and he and his wife were expecting their first child. I grabbed my coat and we made our way down to the Shrine parking lot. Sure enough, there was a black sedan in the middle of the driveway, blocking any cars from exiting or entering  the parking lot.

Steve came over to me and said, “It looks like some guy is sleeping in the car but, man, I have GOT to go!”

I approached the car on the driver’s side and peered in the window. The man had his arms around the steering wheel and his head down in the middle of it. I knocked on the window. No response. I knocked again. Nothing. I began to pound hard on the window and shouted for him to open the door. Finally, the man raised his head and looked around, bleary-eyed. I tried the door but it was locked. I motioned for him to roll down the window. He lowered it just a crack but far enough for the noxious fumes of alcohol to waft over me. I turned my head and told one of the volunteers to call the police.

“Sir, please exit your vehicle immediately.” I thought maybe if I sounded authoritative he would do what I was asking. And, sure enough, he unlocked the door and started to climb out. It was obvious to all of us that he was very drunk.

“Was the problem, Offisher?” Oh great, he thinks I’m the police! Well, I just went with it since we did not have time to fool around with this guy and I did not want him to get on the road in the condition he was in because he would likely kill himself or someone else. My hopes were to stall him long enough for the police to arrive and to try and get the car moved out of the way so Steve could leave and get to his wife.

“Sir, you are under arrest.”, I said. He peered at me and it seemed as if  the cold wind had brought him out of his fog a bit. Finally, he said, “You ain’t no policeman!”  In my best Barney Fife imitation I said, “Sir, this is a Citizen’s Arrest.”

By now, a couple of the guests of the Shelter had come out to make sure I was all right and they stood behind me. The guy looked at me and looked at them and, suddenly, he dove into his car and slammed the door. I grabbed the handle and yelled at him to get out, willing the police to arrive. The two guests were yelling at me to get away from the car. They kept saying, “You don’t know what he might do! He might have a gun!”

The man jammed the car into reverse and hit the gas, squealing his tires as he drove away. I yelled the license plate numbers so we all could remember them. The police car pulled up and I shouted that it was a drunk driver. I gave him the car description and pointed in the direction he had gone. The adrenaline must have been flowing because I pounded on the roof of the squad car and shouted, “GO, GO, GO!” He took off and squealed his own tires as he gave pursuit.

Steve sped out of the parking lot honking his horn as he left. The rest of us stood there looking at each other. Finally, one of the guests who was out there said, “Damn, girl, you’d think you was Hawaii Five-O!”

That’s me, Katie Bashor, Serve and Protect…

Photo Credit: Andrew McQuade

A Little Help!!

In Uncategorized on November 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm

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I stood close to the dinner tables making some welcoming remarks and announcements about upcoming events. As I looked around at the men seated before me I noticed one Shelter guest gesticulating to me and mouthing the words, “I need to talk to you.” I nodded to him to show that I understood and finished up my remarks with an introduction of the group of volunteers who were spending the night. The evening unfolded in typical fashion. Though it was opening night for the season, it was, after all, our thirty-third season so we were all well aware of what needed to happen. Dinner was served, tables were cleaned, coffee was poured, the shower room opened. It seemed as if a hundred people had questions that needed to be answered.

I finally slowed down enough to notice the man who had indicated that he needed to talk to me waiting patiently. I nodded to him again and he got to his feet and made his way over to where I was standing. He was tall, African-American, fairly young I thought, though it was hard to judge. People age in untold ways living on the streets. He gestured to a somewhat empty patch of floor a few feet away. Over the years I have often taken note of how the men always seek out a bit of privacy for a conversation with me. I think it is not so much that they don’t want to be overheard but rather that they are trying to command my undivided attention. It always reminds me of our son, Ryan, who, as a toddler, used to crawl in our laps and put his small hands on either side of our faces to hold us in place while he said what he had to say.

“People said I could talk to you. I just need a little help.”

“My name is Katie. What can I do for you?”

“I want to thank you for this place. I have been on my feet for twenty hours. I got to Atlanta fifteen days ago and I don’t know anyone. I been stayin’ in the streets but I am afraid to lay down cause I know it’s not safe. I found me a job at a label company but I’m afraid I’m going to lose it if I don’t get some rest. I know the rules say I got to be here every night but I’m afraid they will ask me to work overtime and I won’t be able to get here. Ma’am, I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. I want to make my own way in this world but I just need a little help.”

His eyes were glassy with fatigue and he swayed a little as he talked. I put my hand on his arm to steady him and he seemed to relax a little. I explained the process for staying out for work and how he could get an excused absence. I told him that we would try to work with him on his situation.

“Why don’t you finish your dinner, take a hot shower, and get some rest? Everything will look better, will seem more possible in the morning when you feel stronger.”

The relief on his face was palpable. I am sure he already knew all the things I told him. The referring agency would have explained all of this to him when doing his intake. I believe he just needed to have another human being hear his story, know his trials, feel his battle. He just needed a little help. I give thanks for all those volunteers who come each night to Central Night Shelter manifesting that help with a hot meal, a night given in service, a spirit willing to listen.

Photo Credit: Andrew McQuade