Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 358 of 365: Homeless Services Pt 2

Five people were signed up for the class, but only one ended up showing. I had just sat in on a class that I will to be a substitute for in a few days, and I ended up essentially copying her sequence for my class. I'm still finding it a challenge to create and teach gentle sequences for beginners or people with limited mobility. Before I got serious about teaching yoga, I hadn't taken a gentle or beginner class in years.

A second person showed up to the class about five minutes after it started, went through a few poses, and immediately left, talking about how his shoulders hurt and he'd probably have to go to the hospital. After the class, the director would tell me that that particular person most likely had nothing wrong with his shoulder. Apparently it's incredibly common for that individual to back out of things, using whatever dramatic excuse he can muster.

My one student was incredibly inquisitive and ended up telling me about the various meditation techniques he does. Aside from the fact that he immediately popped out of the final resting pose, the rest of the class is incredibly uneventful. I thank and say good-bye to the people in the offices and make my way outside.

Outside, a couple in a few of the plastic chairs by the entrance yell out, "Hey! Where you going?" I laugh and yell back, "Home!" -- which I immediately cringe at. Over to my right is a guy from my first class sitting in another plastic seat. Last week, he was essentially the yoga helper, rounding up people who were interested in the class but had been given the wrong time. This week, he's slumped back with a glazed over expression on his face.

I run into the director on my way to the parking lot, and we end up talking about the class and what we could expect in terms of attendance. After a few minutes, the guy who attended class last week gets up from his chair and saunters over, apologizing for missing the class. He then tells us about a fight that happened in the park last night -- a nearby park where the homeless now congregate at ever since the hours were cut back at the homeless services center. He's slurring his words and drooling out the left side of his mouth.

The center itself is essentially deserted. Aside from people signed up to attend my class, no one is allowed in the center after 1 pm now. The director had warned me that there will be days where people are in my class purely as an opportunity to stay inside. On a day like today, when the weather is perfect, I might not see much of that, but once winter hits, there will be a lot of people in my class purely to be in a heated place.

Before the director and I say our goodbyes, a tall man with a scowl on his face walks past. He gives the director a curt, "hey," before walking down the street. When he's out of earshot, the director tells me that particular guy specializes in getting with the homeless women in the area, only to attempt to pimp them out for drug money. When things inevitably go awry, he sees nothing wrong with beating them senseless. He's apparently gone through 5 different "girlfriends" in the last 6 months. The director tells me that he tries to step in and help the women, but most of them came from horrific and abusive backgrounds, and the cycle of violence is stronger than one guy's words.

I make my drive back home, past the park where every bench has at least two or three homeless people on them. The officials wants them out of the parks, but also wants to scale back on shelters and services. As if there's a dividing line in the city, I quickly go from the "bad" neighborhood to "good". Before long, I'm driving past recently-created neighborhoods with 3000 square foot homes lined up and down the streets. I get to my own neighborhood and collapse on my couch. As we had learned yesterday, there have been a few burglaries in our neighborhood in the past few months. The neighborhood watch is on high alert and apparently a few teenagers have already been caught attempting to break into another house. For the first time since we bought the house, I'm more aware of locking doors behind me, closing easily-accessible windows, and keeping my laptop out of plain view.

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