I stayed in the small city of Las Vegas, New Mexico for about a week. The mission that I stayed at was alright, for the most part and I planned to stay there until April 1.
The mission closed every morning at 7a.m. and I usually shuffled over to the park that encircles the public library. It was difficult to walk straight there because Las Vegas is situated over 6,000 feet up and I was not used to the elevation. I took the thin blanket that they gave me and wrapped it around me after I sat down on a bench. Then I counted the cold clouds of breath that I exhaled until the chimes from a nearby church rang eight bells.
The local library opened at eight o'clock but I knew that the librarians didn't like me. They don't like anyone who stays at the mission.
So, every morning, when I walked in, shivering off the chill...the oldest librarian would glare at me. I never did a thing wrong in that building. The building was originally built in 1904 and is one of Andrew Carnegie's originals.
I'm sure that if Mr. Carnegie, himself, was sitting at that front desk, he wouldn't have frowned at me. In fact, I bet that he would have smiled and asked me, "Well, hello Miss Ruthie and what are you going to write about, today?"
The old librarian ruled the library roost there and refused to run the lift to help me down or up from the downstairs restroom. The stairs were very difficult for me but that never mattered to her. She just looked away and pretended not to notice me when I struggled up and down the steep and winding steps.
On one particularly cold morning, the younger librarian locked the ramp door and left me standing outside for several minutes after the library opened. Then that same librarian came to the door and tried to tell me that the library wouldn't open until 8:30. I knew better.
I had already checked with the website, their voicemail message and the schedule posted right on the library's front door. The library opened at 8:00 that day and the whole bullshit line that the man gave me was done out of spite.
I wasn't the only person who was treated like that, but I am the one person who is going to write about it, here.
Things began to unravel at the shelter a few days before I left.
The woman who oversees the shelter, insisted that a woman stay with me because I was the only female staying at the shelter. All of the rest of the clients were men.
She asked me to "apply" for housing or a bus ticket. I told her that I had no plans to relocate to Las
Vegas and that I am, eventually, heading for a specific town in Colorado. I never did find out how to
get a bus ticket. And truth be told, I wouldn't have accepted a bus ticket even if it had been given to me, anyway. At that point in time, staying put until my money came in, seemed like a much wiser idea.
The woman (who acted more like a giggling girl from middle school) never did help me with anything. She didn't even sleep in the same room with me. The other bed remained empty for the entire time that I stayed there. If she was supposed to "watch out" for me, she never did her job. And she was paid to stay with me. Yup. What a farce.
Someone figured out a pretty slick way to access a parcel of the existing grant money and funnel it through a phony expense and most likely pocketed the money, instead.
The woman elected to "oversee" me didn't like me because I am not Latino. She made that abundantly clear, too.
Finally, one night I tried to listen to a woman give me some important directions over the phone. The so-called "staff woman" started laughing and goofing around with a couple of the guys who were staying there. (She was always flirting with the male clients. There wasn't one thing that was professional about her.) Her laugh encouraged the guys to get louder, too.
I asked them, politely, to keep it down until I was off of the phone. I told them that a woman was trying to explain something important to me.
The three of them turned on me. They didn't care about the poor woman on the other end of the phone and they sure as hell didn't care about me.
Then the staff guy yelled at me and that was it.
I informed the four of them that I was going to leave the next day. And the next morning, I did.
But I have unfinished business with that "organization". And within the next few days, I will be sending an email out to someone who might care about what happened.