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By the chimney

December 19, 2016

Has it really been six months since I’ve written here? Things have gotten out of hand. Let’s see, where was I?

* Big project at the Toy Factory that was supposed to launch in November, no January no February is now…scheduleless. I’m placing my bets on May. Which is sad, because my life is very stressful until it’s over. On the plus side, I got promoted.

* Still playing a lot of fiddle and guitar. Not so much with the band, alas, which has been on hiatus for months. But the two other guitarists of my group at work left (one laid off, the other retired) and I’m holding it together on my own now. It was terrifying, but I’m gaining confidence (possibly without any merit). I’m also making my own tabs and arrangements now, which is much more fun than I would have expected.

* I am no longer reading the news. For my sanity. I have, however, joined a local grassroots community action group. It surprises me but it also helps.

There. Now you’re all caught up.

That’s not what I wanted to write about though. What I wanted to write about is this:

Every day, on my way to work, I get off at the Herald Square stop and walk east on 35th St. Right outside the exit to the station is a building perpetually covered in scaffolding under which are the back doors to the clothing stores on 34th Street. Over the last few months, nearly a year maybe, a homeless encampment has set up there. They build shelters out of the discarded clothing boxes every night and almost every morning, someone tears them down or hoses them away. They build their shelters between the poles of the scaffolding. The shelves of the scaffolding hide, but don’t completely block, the large old fashioned projecting lintels over the shop doors and the people who live in the boxes stash their belongings there in shopping bags.

This morning when I came up from the train, it was cold, maybe 20 degrees, the coldest day we’ve had in NY this winter so far. As I walked by, the boxes were piled extra thickly with all access routes covered. And on the front of each box was a bright red Christmas stocking.

Where did the stockings come from? They are empty. I am tempted to fill them. What would you put in them? I thought maybe gift cards to a nearby restaurant, but I wonder how many would welcome the people who live in the boxes. What would you do?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Lass permalink
    December 19, 2016 10:31 pm

    Warm socks, hats, scarves, toiletries, packs of snack crackers or peanut butter packs, gift cards to nearby grocery stores – all things I have put into manna bags for people on the streets of Austin. Also, hoping to catch up in person over the holidays. xxoo

  2. eleanorio permalink
    December 19, 2016 11:49 pm

    Books, carfare, nail clippers, pre-paid long-distance cards.

  3. the other theo permalink
    December 20, 2016 1:41 pm

    This page from the Portland Rescue Mission has some practical suggestions:

  4. the other theo permalink
    December 20, 2016 5:42 pm

    I’ve largely abandoned online news sources, other than the web sites of some oh-so-20th century institutions known as newspapers. I tell my wife that if I want to know the news, I just imagine the worst outcome possible and then compare that to reality. So far, reality accommodates me fairly closely with surprising regularity.

  5. December 29, 2016 4:19 pm

    Toiletries for sure. Deodorant, pads and tampons. People at the homeless shelter are always short on toiletries. Or gift cards to Duane Reade? That could be a useful thing — gender-neutral, as well!

    Huge congrats on your well-deserved promotion at the Toy Factory. And I hope you don’t feel too bad about the project’s schedule getting pushed back. My understanding of toys is that the schedule one proposes tends to get rejected in favor of a more ambitious schedule that one can’t possibly meet, and then it gets pushed back in increments very discouragingly. You are great! It isn’t your fault!

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