Homeless in Albuquerque with Temperatures Dropping
I sat in my car in a westside Walgreen’s parking lot enjoying a break from holiday Ubering, which is the worst kind of Ubering. Shoppers, traffic…ugh. Night had come, along with a stiff wind. Cold had settled over Albuquerque, about thirty degrees. And I was eating a chicken sandwich.
A smiling man in a bulky parka, knit hat, and fat windproof pants approached, waving. Being overdressed and flagging a parked car, I figured he was homeless. I rolled down the window.
“Hey, can you give me a ride to the smoke shop?”
I’m not into giving anyone free rides, and a smoke shop run didn’t sound like an emergency.
He pulled some cash from his pocket. “I have money. I can give you ten dollars. There and back?”
The gent didn’t look too dirty, didn’t smell. That last bit was important as I would have to clean the seat before running Uber passengers again. “All right. Get in.”
He was quite thankful and we pulled from the parking lot onto Paradise. He followed up with, “Yeah, I’m homeless.”
“That sucks. It’s going to be really cold tonight.”
“God will take care of me. Jesus talks to me you know. I hear his voice.”
Okay, so the man was a little ill in the mental area. I should not have mocked him. But my inner asshole emerges sometimes before I can check it. “So, what does Jesus’ voice sound like?”
He took me seriously, and explained, “He’s very soft spoken. Always calm. He sounds about thirtyish.”
I switched the subject back to the weather and asked him if he had a tent. He said no, he’s sleeping out in the open desert beyond the Blake’s Lotaburger. “I have three comforters, though. God will take care of me.”
He looked dressed for the weather, but being out in the open, with it being windy…that could be bad news. I suggested I drop him off at one of the homeless shelters. He refused. A church? He still refused.
When we arrived at the smoke shop he begged me not to take off on him. He gave me ten dollars in ones in advance and he really was scared I was going to run off on him. He told me it’s happened before more than once. I reassured him that I would not ditch him.
About ten or so minutes he emerged from the shop with a bag and a drink, saw me still there and he smiled broadly. With relief, I imagined, since he apparently expected me to be gone. He got in and thanked me profusely.
I again suggested a shelter and he assured me, as if talking to someone a little stupid, that he was fine, God would look after him. I got him to Blakes, drove him to the back of the lot and out he went, off into the desert night.
I hope he’s okay.