It can be hard to put your life back together after an accident. That was the case for Steve McCausey, who was left with a serious brain injury after being assaulted.
“It was a process of learning to walk and talk again,” he said.
Homeless and without resources in Florida, Steve bought a 30-day Greyhound pass, thinking he would go to Alaska and become a salmon fisherman. But when he got to Seattle, he found out that Greyhound didn’t go to Alaska, “So this is as far as I got.”
The first couple of years were “kind of a wash,” he said. “I was just spending a lot of time in Harborview. I was working off and on for day labor places.”
Finally, somebody introduced him to Real Change.
“I didn’t like selling Real Change at the beginning. I was ashamed, OK? I thought I should be doing better. But I was terrified to do anything else. It was out of necessity and it has changed my life.”
Steve had entered college as a National Merit Scholar, he said. More recently, he finished a program at Highline Community College with a 4.0 grade average.
“I’d gone to school at Michigan State University but I don’t remember any of the stuff, so it’s like starting from ground zero.”
PTSD from the assault makes it difficult for him to do things.
“When I sit down to do a résumé, I freeze. I really start shaking. So the thing for me to do is keep working in therapy and selling Real Change, getting more and more confidence. It’s not that I can’t [do a regular job], but I can’t prove myself on paper.”
Sometimes, to increase his confidence, Steve takes a bus ride, “exploring some place new. It’s the first thing I was told to help with getting over the post-traumatic amnesia, to learn a new place. To not make pre-conceived notions or ideas.”
That also applies when he’s selling Real Change. “Recovering from a head injury, every day is like Christmas. Every day I learn a new lesson. I love the people I see — they share their lives with me. I would give the paper to everybody if I could. Customers will come up to me: ‘It’s the best paper in the city.’”
And things are looking up. “I just signed a lease two weeks ago. I’m very excited. It’s on Capitol Hill and I’ve got a fabulous roommate.” The roommate has seven chinchillas and a cockatiel, but that doesn’t faze Steve.
“I love pets,” he said.