New York City. Michael.7.28.17
Looking at Michael with his ginger hair, fair complexion, polo shirt, and bible - the harsh Long Island accent he introduced himself with was unexpected; however, it was an appropriate introduction to the story he was about to tell, which - too - was harsh.
If I am being honest, Michael's story does not need a dramatic introduction, as it is dramatic enough on its own.
"I was walking to visit my mom" Michael began, "but we hadn't spoken for a while, so she didn't know I was coming" he continued. He then recounted, with admirable calm, how he was jumped by a gang. Michael was beaten, stabbed, and admitted to the hospital in a coma, as a John Doe. Being that no one knew where Michael was (or, who he was), his landlord assumed that he had skipped town, therefore removing all of his belongings from his property and renting out the apartment to someone else.
Having nowhere to go and little to his name, Michael called his father in hopes that he would take him in so that he could get back on his feet. His father, although willing, was outvoted by his wife; ultimately beginning Michael's six month stint on the street.
Like the majority of the people we have spoken to, Michael is not comfortable with staying in the shelters. Aside from their lack of safety, he also had an experience with corruption. At certain shelters it is common for the belongings of the individuals staying there to be locked up for "safe keeping"; and by "safe keeping" (in this particular shelter) I mean, "so-that-the-shelter-director-can-let-people-in-to-steal-their-stuff-for-money".
So here Michael sits, when he is not working odd jobs, on the corner of 42nd and Broadway, reading his bible - a newly found interest he credits to a rough winter night (whereas Gerard credits it to his influence). Regardless, no matter the reason, it has positively affected Michael, as made obvious when he tells us that he is thankful for the friends he has made and the friend he has become since being homeless. There is no lack of sincerity in his voice when he explains to us how he and his counterparts help one another out, mentioning specifically the time they pooled their money together so that a pregnant woman was able to get a room for the night.
It should come as no surprise to anyone reading this that that story made our hearts happy. However, it didn't make us as happy as when Michael told us that a week and a half prior he had a job interview. And definitely not as happy as we will be when we walk down 42nd street on our next visit and see an empty spot of pavement.
Here's to you no longer being a John Doe & for making a name for yourself, Michael. You've got this!