Lyle's Blog

Jerry, the homeless homeless helper

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

When I first moved into my new building, I found quite quickly that I had inherited a local soul named Jerry. I believe he was sleeping under the eve behind my place and since he seemed harmless, I said nothing.

As I got the building ready, Jerry would stop by from time to time and just talk. He said that his family was close by and that was what kept him there.

Every once in a while, he would ask if I would loan him a five. Since he always paid off (took a little bit at times), I continued that with him. Besides, I felt the security of having him around didn't hurt much either.

I remember the first night that we opened. As we hurriedly got the back room ready for the next days serving, Jerry came busting through the back door (prompting screams from waitresses who did not know of him) with his arms raised saying "You need to do something about your security. Anyone could come in here!".

A few weeks later on a busy Saturday morning, Jerry came in the front room with a pair of bolt cutters. "I am telling you.", he loudly proclaimed, "You need to do something about your security. I found these out back!".

He left shortly after that to go to Portland for some medical work at the VA and sure enough, a month or so later, we were robbed. (Ex employees, but that is a different story of which I will write of later).

We didn't see Jerry for a while and then one day, he showed up borrow a five. And later to show us his new cane....and again later to show us his dog and to tell us that he was still around.

From time to time, Jerry would bring in little art effects that he had put together from things that he had found along the road. On all of them, he would place some plants that he had pulled probably from someones garden (maybe our own). I would place them out back by my office and we called them affectionately "Jerry Art". He would always leave a note with them telling Judy and I how he was following what the diner was doing and thanking us for our help to the homeless.

One day, Jerry came by with a large bag. "I have a great idea for your parking lot." He explained. "Just leave it to me. I will set it all up and maintain it for all that you have done for us." I asked what he had in mind and he pulled out some stakes with the cones on top like you see in some graveyards filled with plastic flowers. "I can put these over in that blank space on your east side.", he said, "And I will place this in the middle." With that, he pulled out a small plastic cross with flowers draped on it. "Wouldn't that make us kind of look like a graveyard?", I asked. "Funny you should say that", he explained. "I have been sleeping out behind the dumpster at the graveyard and when I saw these, I immediately thought you could use them."

I was touched but thanked him and told him that Judy did not want to have any more plastic plants around. He was disappointed but said he understood. "I am going to keep looking?", he promised.

Jerry showed up last Sunday. He told me that he had something for me to see. We walked out into the parking lot and he pointed at a fairly nice class c motorhome sitting on the other side of the lot. "That is mine." he proudly stated. "I came into some money and I just bought it. Please let me show it to you." We walked across the lot. "A couple of the guys are inside so it is a little messy." We stepped up into the smoke filled cabin. Backpacks and bags of trash were littered around with two glassy eyed transients sitting on the couch. "Nice ride", I explained. One of the two looked up and slurred, "Ain't ours! Belongs to Jerry. He sure is a great guy!" "Yes, he is", I returned.

Jerry showed me through the home. He couldn't work half of the appliances but was proud as punch to have them. "Here is the shower, not that I can get water into it.", he stated. "And over there is the TV but I am gonna replace it cause it is too small. We can't see what is on the screen".

As we walked back across the lot, I told Jerry how proud I was of him for helping out the other guys. "Well, after I paid for the motorhome. I had a hundred left over. I had to buy pots and pans and some sheets." "I have more money in the bank but am out right now. Could you spot me a 5 till Monday?" I handed him a five.

"Schedule me in for Monday at 7PM please", he asked. "I want to bring in some of my homeless friends in for some real food.

True to his word, at 7 on Monday, Jerry pulled up with a dozen people. Many of them did not look homeless but this was Jerry's party. He bought them all whatever they wanted.

You know I don't know how much money Jerry came across, but the way he is handing it out, it wont last long. I am sure that the motorhome will find it's way out in the woods somewhere, out of gas but giving some needed shelter for a few of the guys.

So, if you are driving out China Hat road and see a fairly nice cream and brown motorhome sitting out in the trees, go ahead and give old Jerry a wave. Jerry, the homeless homeless helper.

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