(The following post was written before the storm hit.)
It's been a long time since I waited for the old Central library in downtown Portland, Oregon to open.
When the doors opened today, I watched the crowd around me do everything that they could to justify
every negative thing that the media says about them. Yes folks, it's all true. Every damn word.
I once sat on a blanket on the sidewalk in front of a bastion of poverty on West Burnside Avenue here in Portland. And in the middle of the winter, the mainstream folks (if there is such a thing here)
ignored me while the snow blew in my face.
One day I boarded a bus and I stopped living here in Portland. Most likely I never will again.
Today, I felt the reactions from different people...with edges so sharp that I nearly cut myself on them. If Portland, Oregon ever had a severe homeless problem...it has truly become a fatal disease now.
The redneck female bus driver who drove me in from Troutdale (a distant suburb of Portland) this morning eyed my gear and profiled me immediately. I told her where I wanted to be dropped off
at and she (purposefully) dropped me off in the wrong place. When I turned to look at her after I
exited the bus, she wrinkled up her nose, glared at me, closed the door with a slam, put the bus in
gear and roared off.
I finally figured out which MAX (light rail) train to board which in turn brought me to the right
street car. The street car rolled me down to the worst social mess this side of Salt Lake City,
Utah. (Don't believe the media hype. The homeless problem in that community is so bad that
one five-minute glance will numb the mind.) And the first word that grabbed my mind was
"brats." And I am not referring to sausages.
There they were: A group that has no respect for anyone...least of all for themselves. I flashed on
how I was received by the mainstream people before I got to the library. And I realized once
again that those folks saw me as a representative of the same group that I was looking at now.
A black cloud of cigarettes, garbage, rudeness, arrogance and an obvious desire to be allowed carte blanche to be
wrong...swirled around me. I stood there and took the whole picture in...in a wide and weird sort of poverty-fueled
Panavision. I was disgusted...immediately. I still am.
How the homeless people (that I saw) behave here is an outrage. Totally.
When the librarians opened the front doors, I took two steps forward and was immediately
pushed and shoved by the ragged but spoiled bunch of whiners. They rushed the stairs and the
elevator like a stinking pack of wild dogs. When I stepped off the elevator, that same group of
individuals tried to push me a little bit further but this time, I gave them THE LOOK. And like
the small-minded bullies that they are, they backed away and that was the end of that.
The prejudiced rednecks treated me unfairly this morning. Ultimately, the pompous poor did
the same thing. Both were given a choice and both of them blew it. Neither side is any "better"
than the other one. And the one who lost in the equation this morning was and is...me.
I don't know what Portland and the State of Oregon are going to do to resolve this problem. And
a part of me believes that it isn't Oregon's responsibility or call to make. Instead, I believe that it is
time for the unwashed masses to grow up. Grow The Hell Up!
After all, who has really let who down?
More to the point, who is ultimately going to lift who up?
It's a clear and direct question...isn't it?