This week I saw a Stranger story saying everyone in Washington state is sick, and a science article that said when the zombie apocalypse happens humans will be almost completely wiped out in the first 100 days.
Not to worry too much: The few hundred human survivors of the zombie attacks would proceed to outlast and out-reproduce the zillions of zombies on account of a sudden global drop-off in the availability of brains, and in a couple of generations there will be towns and drinking water again. The worst thing is there will be no YouTube and no one living by then will know who Johnny Carson was.
Getting back to everyone actually being sick in the state, this may be almost true.
Last week I took a rare seven days out from work at the Real Change office, and when I got back I was informed that every single staff member in my department had been sick during those seven days. So they all hated me for escaping the disease that was going around, and now I think they may have somehow figured out how to give it to me, after all.
This raises an interesting fact that I don’t often think about, but now is a good time.
I was homeless for about four years in my life spread out over several occasions. I was never sick during those four years. Was that a fluke or what?
I say it was “what.”
My thinking is that when you know deep down how desperate your life is and how much more desperate it could get if on top of everything you were sick, your body can put it off for months at a time. I have no proof that this is possible, other than my own experience. Every time I managed to get off the streets into housing, I’d finally come down with something that would keep me in bed for days.
Imagine how that would work with the zombie apocalypse. You’re sleeping in doorways or open fields, shivering every night, and the next thing you know there are zombies everywhere shuffling through the streets snatching people, wrestling them, eating their brains out. But they just pass you by, because deep down you know you just couldn’t take that much added stress, and so you have the strength in you to ward them off with the meanest evil eye ever. The zombies are afraid of you.
It wouldn’t last forever, but the immunity might hold for more than a hundred days. Which means the science study may be off by not taking into account the potential zombie resistance of several million homeless people worldwide.
Looking at the matter from the other side, the newly housed side, a number of my friends involved with homelessness are as convinced as I am, based only on anecdotal evidence, that people are more likely to have bad things happen to them right after getting into housing.
We think there are two basic reasons for this. One is the effect mentioned above. Your guard against the bad goes down because now that you’re “safe” you feel (deep down) that you can afford a setback. The other is probably more true: that agencies that provide housing for homeless people tend to have policies that isolate them from their street friends. So they gain housing but suffer a loss of social support.
The isolation can result in severe lapses into depression, which is precisely the opposite outcome the housing agencies expect and one they are totally unprepared for. They think the newly housed people can’t believe their great fortune at landing an apartment, when actually the new residents are filled with grief at the new isolation and may even feel as though they have betrayed their friends who they are now forced to be distant from, and who are still homeless.
The result can be suicide.
It’s ironic that the same agencies that create these conditions by neglecting the value of existing social relationships are usually avid proponents of “community building” within their walls.
It’s a failure to see that what is involved is an attempted uprooting followed by a replanting, and that such operations are always stressful.
The agencies are creating urban refugees from the streets and putting them into walled institutions, and they apparently aren’t aware they’re doing it.
Keep your eyes open, everyone.