I’ve been writing about some homeless people who live on the street by my office, in Seattle’s SODO district. I walk Utah Avenue every day, rain or shine, to clear my head and dream. They are a part of the scenery, sometimes changing, but always there.
One guy has been in a van for more than a year now. Every day I look for his van as I’m driving in and try to catch a glimpse of him, inside. You can see the top of his head if he’s in the back, on a mattress, reading or sleeping.
Today on my walk, I saw him in the driver’s seat with the window down, drinking a can of beer. I don’t think the van runs. He has a Sony radio on the dash, and turned it down when I approached him.
I asked how his day was going, and he smiled and shook my hand. We exchanged names. He said he’s a union laborer, works when he can. I told him I work in that building, and have for 17 years now. I take a walk to clear out my head.
He explained that he lost the house when he got divorced and declared bankruptcy from credit card debt. He has four kids, and let his wife keep the house. The kids are 14-18, and come visit him from time to time.
I’ve seen him in the early morning with his knapsack, sunglasses, and baseball hat. I’ve wondered, is he looking for work, or dealing drugs with the other tribes of homeless, under the bridge near Beacon Hill?
I’ve seen him in the van with teenagers and thought it sketchy and weird: why are kids in the van with him, while he’s smoking and drinking beer? I realize now, those kids are his.