I was on the 7:15 bus this morning to get to work early enough to get a couple of things done before my two hours worth of morning meetings started.
70% Geek / 30% Military man was at the stop, and as soon as we sat down he took out his book. In my Thursday, June 3rd entry, I noted that he was reading John Le Carre's Our Game. Today he whipped out Absolute Friends by the same author. Here's a peek at him:
My friend, Hugh, the founder of Love Wins Ministry works tirelessly with homeless friends in Raleigh. I've mentioned Love Wins several times here before—it was one of the two groups that my work organization "adopted" for our Holiday Giving Projects. This is his most recent newsletter:
After the recent article about us in the local paper, I have been asked dozens of times just what we do, exactly.
We feed people. But we aren’t a feeding ministry. And while we do help people get jobs, we aren’t a job training program. Almost 50 times since Christmas we have gotten work shoes for folks. But we aren’t a clothing ministry. And in a few weeks, we will be celebrating the 4th of July in the park with our friends who live outside – but that isn't what we do.
At any given moment, we may be doing any or all of those things. But we are primarily a ministry of presence.
Being homeless means having no one to listen to you when you hurt, no one to share your dreams with, and no one to celebrate with when good things happen. And no one to stand beside you when you are scared.
Which is why, several weeks ago, I was in the doctor’s office, sitting next to my friend Sarah, holding her hand as we wait to hear the bad news. She had recently had her first annual exam in 16 years. (When you are struggling to survive, sometimes you let things like that slide.) And when she had called for the results, they refused to give them to her over the phone. This is never good.
Her sponsor in NA died of cervical cancer, so she was scared to death of going to that doctor’s office by herself to hear the news. So there I was, looking very out of place as she and the doctor talk about cervixes and ovaries and so on. And when he told her it looked like cancer, I was the guy who held her as she cried. And prayed with her in the parking lot.
Today she got the results back from the specialist. It is cancer of the cervix, and in a few weeks she is going in for an operation. So it was only natural that she called me and some of our volunteers to let us know. And when they wheel her back in the hospital room after cutting on her, it will be our faces she will see when she wakes up.
What do we do? We are present. Often our being present doesn’t change things – she is going to have surgery if we are there or not. But now, she won’t be alone. And that is not a small thing at all.
Love Wins. Always.
PS: The only reason I was able to be in that doctor’s office next to Sarah was because of your financial contributions that pay my salary. And it is your money that will buy the flowers in her room when she comes out of recovery. If you don’t currently support our work but want to, you can find out more about that here. We really need people who are willing to commit to ongoing monthly contributions, so we can budget.
Please consider a donation to Love Wins Ministry, especially if you have been marginalized, disenfranchised, or outright despised by "organized religion." Hugh and his ministry are people who "get" what Christianity is all about. You can donate money, or things they always need, or if you're local, some of the things they need for their upcoming Fourth of July celebration.
I had a great day at work today, in spite of a short unpleasant exchange with a work colleague at the end of the day.
I ended up staying at the office until 10:00 migrating some documentation from one server to another in anticipation of sending out an e-mail tomorrow to about 27,000 students that'll include a link to the information.
In a dramatic turn of events this evening, I found myself in a shouting match with a bus driver. Oh my god, I'm becoming a caricature of my own buscapade characters.
At work, I was engrossed in what I was doing, but fortunately noticed the time at 9:55, in time to catch the 10:15—the last bus of the day—home. I got to the stop at about 10:10. Shortly after 10:15, the bus came down the road, and like I always do, I waved my arm to let the driver know I'm not just hanging out in front of the credit union, since in the course of this—now more than a year—re-route for construction on Hillsborough Street, they have never erected a CAT Bus Stop sign on this corner.
Well this bus—did I mention it was the last bus of the evening—went zipping right by me! I started waving my arms like a maniac, and then ran up to it at the nearby intersection as the driver had stopped there for the red light.
I stood in front of the door, waving my arms, and he looked at me and shook his head. The exchange that follows ensued with the door closed—him inside the bus, and me in the street.
Driver: THIS IS NOT A STOP FOR ME.
Me: THIS IS A STOP. I TAKE THIS BUS EVERY DAY HERE.
Driver: IT'S NOT A STOP FOR ME. I DON'T STOP HERE.
Me: COME ON, MAN. THIS IS MY LAST RIDE HOME. THEY NEVER PUT UP A SIGN FOR THIS STOP FOR THE DETOUR.
Driver (eying the light yellow light in the other direction, anticipating the green for him, started to roll forward, and shook his head no): I DON'T STOP HERE.
Me (as he rolls out of my sight): F*CK!
And I started high-tailing it down Hillsborough Street trying to get to the next stop, which is a long block away, knowing full well that if I didn't get there before he did, he certainly wouldn't stop and wait for me after what just transpired. At about halfway there, he passed me, but I kept running and he actually did stop at the next stop at the intersection of Hillsborough and Dixie Trail, because some people were waiting to board there.
As I was approaching Bagwell Avenue (see map above), an astounding thing happened just as he started pulling away, and I started to drop the f-bomb again. The #12 Method bus pulled up beside me and then passed me. That would be my bus. The one that actually stops at the stop in front of the credit union where I was waiting.
The one that left, and wouldn't stop for me, was actually the #38 Blue Ridge bus that usually comes all the way up Hillsborough Street from downtown, but had evidently made a detour this evening for some reason or other, probably due to some night time road closure related to the Hillsborough Street construction.
I hadn't even looked at the number of the bus, as my bus is the only bus that comes down Brooks, and it was right at the expected time of the #12. So, since the #38 doesn't usually come down Brooks Avenue, of course that driver doesn't stop at that credit union stop.
The #12 Method Road bus did wait for me to arrive, which I did panting from the god-awful heat and humidity, and boarded. The bus driver said, "They really do need to put up a bus stop sign at that intersection back there, though," which made me think the other bus driver must have radioed him or something.
I can just imagine the two-way radio message from the driver of the #38: "There's a guy running to your bus who went into an apoplectic rage back at the Brooks intersection."
I met Alex at Flex for Trailer Park Prize Night at about 11:30. It's pageant time, which means time to see Jay, Craig, and Phil (Craig and Phil being gay twin brothers, and Jay their friend). Jay and Phil were talking with Alex when I arrived. Turned out Craig wasn't arriving in Raleigh until tomorrow.
At one point, I went to the bar to get a drink, and a tall, very heavy drag queen, said, "John! Been to Great Clips lately?" It was Scott/Steven of Great Clips stylist "fame," who I'd never seen doing drag there before. "Killer lips," was about all I could muster, as they were a blood red color infused with a little glitter and outlined in black.
Alex and I caught up, I chatted with Phil just a little, and longer with Randy, who was also talking to those guys, and he told me a funny story about "sleeping his way up the east coast."
Once the show started, I leaned against the pool table and chatted with Bob most of the time, waiting with bated breath for Scott/Steven's drag performance. Not.