Healthcare is a right

Posted: 04 March 2019
Updated: 10 March 2019


It is 01:43 in the morning on Monday 4 March 2019. I am homeless and sleeping on a downtown street. Another inescapable fact of homelessness awakens me.

I sleep adjacent to the sidewalk.

A few days prior, however, I was asleep in the place shown in the picture above, and a man tried to steal my phone from my pocket even though four other people were in a position to see him.

In November 2018, while I was sleeping during the day, many people saw a man steal my only pair of shoes. A week later, again because of symptoms, I was asleep during the day. I had been using my portable frying pan to collect change and it was at my feet. Someone wanted the money and stole the pan and the money.

A few days later—Friday night when the night club had a horrible cover band with the volume too loud—I was sending messages to people who wanted English lessons or editing. I was sitting in the corner with my backpack forming a third wall next to me. The music was so loud and so horrible that it caused a catatonic state: one symptom I must deal with. I was catatonic for 10–20 minutes, and during that time, someone stole my phone from my hands.

Those are some of the robberies and some of the attempted robberies I have suffered in this location. I no longer have a complete count of the successful robberies against me in Mexico and Guatemala, but it is at least 22, including at least four times by police.

Late Sunday night and into early Monday morning at 01:43, a man tried to steal my cheap watch off my wrist. I punched him in the face and his nose gave up a lot of blood.

His friend started speaking drunk, rural Spanish that I couldn’t understand, but he was clearly trying to de-escalate the situation: I guess that is why the thief did not run away. I sat down and was silent. The friend kept speaking but I did not pay attention. I had exactly two tissues left: disposable paper is a valuable commodity for a homeless man in Mexico because, among other uses, I need it because approximately half of the public toilets I use do not have toilet paper. Neither the thief nor his friend asked for anything to stop the blood flowing from his nose, but I reflexively gave the thief my only tissues. Later, I questioned why I did it, but at the time, giving the last of my valuable tissues to a man who had just tried to rob me felt unremarkable.

I paid more attention to the friend: he spoke more slowly and I could understand him. The tone of his voice changed, his body language changed, and his gestures changed. He told me he and the thief would make me pay for the bloody nose. Now, the friend was escalating the situation. The thief became angry and he threw the bloody tissues at me even though his face and jacket sleeve were still covered by a coffee cup’s worth of glistening blood. I did not react, but the friend continued his threats and the thief was increasingly animated and his drunkenly-incoherent monologue transitioned into a drunkenly-incoherent diatribe.

I stood up. They immediately calculated that it was time for them to leave, but the friend courageously threatened me as they walked away.

“Gracias for giving me tissues for my bloody nose even though I just tried to rob you, a homeless man, in your sleep.”

I still do not understand why I cannot get enough support to escape the poverty trap. But I do not understand why I am still surprised that I cannot get enough support. My support did not improve after six people broke my arm in June 2018. Plus, in October 2014, I confidently wrote: “If my arm were broken, you would help me.” I was wrong: no one helped me after my arm broken as the result of a crime. Despite this evidence that it is exceptionally unlikely I will ever sufficient support, my emotional and rational minds cannot understand what is happening.

If everyone who reads my website were to send $10 per month, I would escape the poverty trap. Without more support, I will die in the streets.

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