August 28, 2013
Vol: 20 No: 15

Dr. Wes

Having a bad day? Just be thankful you’re not in Columbia, South Carolina

By Dr. Wes Browning

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Two days ago, four incidents in two hours put me in a foul mood.

It started as I was sitting at the front of the Route 16 bus with one other guy near me.

As we turned the corner at Third and Yesler to go north, a man was being arrested at Prefontaine fountain. The fellow on the bus said, “They got another crack addict. Good. You know what would be better? Kill them all.”

Wonderful. All I want to do is buy some groceries, but on the way I get to hear a man’s fantasies of mass murder for the sake of some fascist social improvement scheme.

Fortunately, the fascist mass-murder fantasizer got off at the courthouse so our lovely conversation was aborted just when it needed to be, and a merely crazy man sat next to me and babbled at my elbow, “I hate you, I hate you all. Die, die all of you.” I don’t think he was talking to me even though he was looking at me, but still.

Then, shopping done, I headed back on a Route 36 bus, getting on at the dreaded Benaroya Hall stop. I find myself at the front behind the driver, and behind me a man is staring at me. After a minute he asks the time.

I started to read the time for him, and he interrupts me to sneer, “Is it your lunch time? Yeah, that’s it, BOSS MAN, it’s your lunch time, how do you like your lunch time, BOSS MAN.”

This being incident number three, I gave him the full treatment. I tend to respond around the third time, I’m slow that way. First time I was mostly stunned. Second time I stared at the advertisements.

This time I was ready, and let out an “Oh no you don’t, you wanted the time, jackass, the time is 12:27. That’s all you get, you don’t get to talk about my lunch break or anything else about me, the time is 12:27 and you shut up.”

Then I dropped off my goods at home and I walked to Real Change for a three-hour shift. On the way I approach a smiling woman at a bus stop who looks at me and says, “There you are! There’s my bus driver! I haven’t seen you in ages!” and I scream, “I’m not your bus driver! Why does everyone think I’m someone else? I want this day over!”

I kind of felt sorry for her for having my bad day happen to her like that. Oh well.

Now let’s talk about Columbia, South Carolina’s “Emergency Homeless Response Plan.” This really rankled me.

The plan is to force “homeless offenders” into a mission-run shelter to be established outside the city. So as not to be seen as simply rounding homeless people up for this shelter, they would only force those into it that violate one of the laws set up that homeless people always violate, loitering included. You can’t be homeless and not loiter, so their disclaimer, “No person will be subject to any law in a manner that is different from any other citizen” is just weasel-talk.

The shelter will not be accessible by foot, according to the plan. Residents of the shelter will be at the mercy of the bus operators who will drive them in and out when it suits them.

Apart from monitored temporary excursions, the shelter is to be run 24-7, with most services, including meals, on site. The city’s budget calls for added police to make all this happen.

A line from the plan that really reveals the mentality of the fascist-brained geniuses who thought it up: “No out of city dumping,” meaning Greenville can’t “dump” its homeless people at Columbia’s camp; “Our fascist camp, not your fascist camp.”

So what the city of Columbia is talking about is a prison for people convicted of being homeless.

Thanks, Columbia, for taking one of my foul moods to a brand-new level.



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