The big farmhouse on which I had bid in a bank-owned bidding war, and won, had finally closed so, I was getting ready to move, which required obtaining boxes. I do hate moving. I find it spiritually, physically and mentally taxing.
After venturing out in the rain and cold to get boxes, I spot a person walking along the side of the road. Actually, all morning I had noticed people out walking around Talent and Ashland. But this person looked wet and dejected. As I did have room in the front seat, I pulled over and took a quick look at him. Small, handsome, my age, wet, cold. Ride? “Yes, thank you.”
Where are you going? “Medford.” You aren’t even hitchhiking? I said. “No one will pick you up anyway, no buses running today. Ashland has shelters open, Monday thru Friday, and then there’s no place to go.”
We drove on. I asked if he had a place to go in Medford. No, he said. Oh darn, I thought. I can’t just put this poor guy out on the street! I told him I would get him a room at the motel. “God bless you," he replied. "What’s your name?" I ask. “Brian.” We shake hands.
I pulled into the motel in Talent. He came in with me. The lady had one room. I was going to pay with my card and gave her my ID. My friend gave her his card. He did look wet and bedraggled! The lady noted that the card was laminated which it wasn’t supposed to be and was two years out of date. So, sorry, I can’t do that. No room for you.
OK, on the road again. He knows of one in Medford, but I don’t want to drive that far. So we stop again in Phoenix. An Indian man is checking me in. Darn, everyone is so suspicious of people in the world these days! He asks me all the questions and takes the card. Brian, my wet, homeless person is in the car and has not come in this time! “Just one?” Yes. “Just you?’ Yes.
Windows are steamed on the car and he can’t see in. "Oh, I see you live in Medford." Once you give them you license, they know everything about you. "Yes," I say. "My house is under construction." But I have already made a comment about having to get off the road!!! $55 dollars. A key. I let the young man in. I sit in the room for a few minutes and talk to him to make it look good. He has recently lost his phone.
“My phones always get lost!” I wonder what vice helped create his original downfall. Looks like alcohol, maybe. At one time he was probably a handsome, happy, young man, beautiful brown eyes. Not even really frustrated with his life. Just the way it is. Nine years this way, turning 45 years old Friday. Trying to keep a relationship with his girlfriend, but for some reason she has just gotten her kids back and now he can’t live with her. Go figure.
He’s on disability. This means he will have money once a month that lasts 10 days and then he’s broke again. I actually go out and get in my car. I’m so worried that he will be discovered and thrown out on the street in the cold and wet. Where does one go? I, on the other hand, have many rooms available at this particular moment. I do contemplate taking him home to my house. Luckily I realize that is not a very smart idea!!
I go over the Subway shop and buy two sandwiches. Roast beef and tuna. I go back to the motel and knock on the door. Brian lets me in, I sit on the bed and chat with him for 10 minutes about his life and how he got this way and then leave and say “ You take care of yourself."
I treat my horse better than America treats these poor people in this country. There just has to be a better, more humanitarian solution to this problem. I wondered as I drove along Highway 99, if the s--t hit the fan, people would go into the RV and trailer storage yards, open up the trailers and move in. They would turn up the propane and get comfortable. Just a small dry, safe place, that’s what a human needs, right? There are so many unoccupied rooms — and yet so many people sleeping out in the cold on the ground under bridges, in the bushes.
For me it’s the Rabbit Hole, or the Badger Hole. You don’t want to fall down either one, because it can be hell to get out. For many years, I have watched out for that Rabbit Hole. I’ve felt it lurking out there. Watching you for a bad decision, a mistake, miscalculation, a bad day.
Call it luck. Call it destiny. Call it a gift that I’ve marshaled through all the pot holes of life. Making decisions on your own; being positive; trusting in a higher power; being thankful; and doing a good deed occasionally.
This was my good deed for today, Dec. 13. And Brian, I wish you peace, luck and good will. You seemed like such a soft spoken, kind person. I do hope you have some serious good things coming your way and that you had a good night’s sleep and warmed up.
Karen Piper lives at her Blue Pony Ranch with her miniature pony London Fog and her Hanovarian gelding Ernst August. She enjoys exploring the southern Oregon area and likes yoga, fishing, hiking, listening to music, going to the theater, trail riding and pursuing her dressage career.