August 5, 2011

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying # 8)

Episode # 8 Here come the church people--- (click on the "Grippers" tab and scroll down for the previous seven (7) episodes)


"C'mon, Tracey, please. Call these people right now. You need your power back on. My God, you'll lose everything in the refrigerator plus it's 92 degrees outside and it's already hot in here. C'mon, trust me. Make the call."

Bob had his back to them and was making believe he was not paying attention but he was. "Call what people? What are you talking about?"

Jake, who was quietly taking everything in was, for the first time in his 12 years, sensing an insecurity inside himself. He did not understand the feeling.  "Hey, somebody want to tell me what's going on around here. Why don't the electricity work?"

"Look Jake," his mom said,  "I'll explain it all in a few minutes, okay. Everything is fine. don't worry."

Bob, getting exasperated, turned around, looked at Tracey and asked again, "What people are you talking about?"

Judi answered him, "The St. Vincent De Paul Society at my church. They might be able to help you out. That's who."

"I love ya Judi and your a great friend but sometimes----- no way. What are we, some kind of charity case. Just forget that whole idea."

"You know Bob, I love you too but sometimes you let that damn pride of yours really cloud some good, old fashioned, common sense. Right now, at this moment in time, you need a bit of help. So why don't you just get over it and let Tracey call. Trust me, it is not a big deal."

Tracey, thinking about the "arm twisting" she had to do to get Bob to go to the unemployment office said, "Judi is right Bob. She's right. I'm calling and I don't care. What do we have to lose except maybe a bit of pride. So what. I'm calling."

Bob threw his hands in the air and then threw them down. He said nothing and headed back to the garage.  His abruptness and hand waving was simply a way for him to save  some of the dignity he felt was being ripped away from him. Down deep, he was glad Tracey was going to the make the call.

Tracey shook her head and punched the numbers into the phone. She waited and said to Judi, "I'm getting a recording."

"Don't hang up, Tracey. Leave a message. They'll get back to you."

Tracey waited and then spoke, "Yes, my name is Tracey Slider. A neighbor gave me your number and told me I should call you. Anyway, our power was shut off and," she paused to stifle a sob, "we need a little help. My number is 555-3790. Thank you."

As Tracey hung up, Judi smiled at her and said, "Good for you, Trace. Good for you. Just say a little prayer and things will work out. It's kind of late so I hope they can get to you today.. Anyway, I'll call you later and see how it's going."

They hugged each other and then Judi left, waving and smiling at a pensive looking 12 year old who waved back only using  his hand as his arm rested across his leg. When Judi was gone Tracey said to her son, "Jake, I just want to get some ice-tea. You're not a baby anymore so I'll explain to you exactly what is going on. Do you want something to drink?"

Before Jake could answer the phone rang. Tracey flipped it open and a man said, "Hi, is this Tracey?"

"Yes, who's calling?"

"Oh, hi Tracey,  this is Ron from St. Vincent De Paul. We got your message. So tell me, how long has your power been off?"

Tracey was a bit taken back at how quickly the return call had come in and said, "Wow, I only called about five minutes ago. That was fast."

"Just good timing Tracey. I was picking up the messages and yours had just come in. If I had checked five minutes earlier it would not have been on the machine. Might not have gotten back to you today. God's just watching out for us, that's all." The guy let out a slight laugh and continued, "Anyway, we have to come out to see you and can do it in the next half hour. How's that sound?"

"You have to come HERE? We don't come to you?"

"Yup. It's the way we do it. It's called a "home visit" but it is no big deal. Now look Tracey, usually we are not able to do a visit so quickly. In fact, most times it takes a day or so depending on people's schedules. Being it is so late in the day and things seem to be falling into place maybe we can get something done today. I'm not sure but it is worth the shot. What do you say? Can we come over?"

"Well, sure, I guess so. That's fine." She gave Ron the address and he simply asked her to have her power bill available. As she hung up she felt no sense of intimidation or nervousness. Ron's voice and down to earth manner had already put her at ease.

Bob came back in. "Well, what's going on? Did you actually call those people?'

"I did Bob. I did.  They'll be here in a half hour."

"Oh great---So, here come the 'church people'. Whatever, whatever. I'm going outside."

Next time: Episode # 9 The Home Visit