A friend and old co-worker showed up at Caly’s front door and it occurred to me that I had forgotten to meet him for coffee. “A” and I went to a family diner called Krain’s Korner in Enumclaw. He sat and listened to what I’ve been up to and I talked with him about the subject of homelessness. He admitted that what he pictured was probably stereotypical because that’s the only image he was familiar with. I asked him to look up the Seattle Time’s recent series called “Invisible Families”. I educated him on the fact that although there are those with drug addiction, mental illness and criminal backgrounds on the streets, the majority of homeless people are families that lost their jobs, homes, and sense of security. It has been projected that by next year, there will be another 2.5 million families across America living out of their cars. “A” didn’t like the sound of that.
While we were talking, the owner of Krain’s, Karen, approached our table. She asked what we did for a living and all I said was that I am a student and I write. “A” told her he was in construction and after chatting with Karen, she sat across from us and told us that she was asking folks to become boosters if they could. For $25.00, patrons would get a card that entitled them to 5% off their meals for an entire year and they would get a booster sheet taped to the old bar that has been there since 1890. Karen went on to tell us about her husband who passed away three years ago and how they had fallen behind on taxes. She said not too long ago an auditor came in and asked to see the books for the last three years which Karen complied to. The agent then threatened to close the place down if Karen didn’t get caught up or keep up with payments, which are based off the gross income. Why gross I wonder? That doesn’t reflect how much money is left over for expenses or payroll for crying out loud! Karen was more worried about the employees. What are they going to do if Krain’s has to close? The I.R.S. agent was indifferent and told Karen “Oh, they can go get another job.” Karen’s reply was “Where? Have you seen how many jobs are available these days?” Karen and many others are hoping that I-1098 gets supported enough to pass legislation. Why? Because Bill Gates, Sr.’s new initiative would help people like Karen. Time will tell if it goes through though because the bill is already facing heavy opposition. Some of Krain’s employees have worked there for over 20 years. I asked Karen if any articles were printed about the restaurant and she left the table and came back with all kinds of stuff for me to look at. I told her I would do what I could to see how I could get the word out. “A” paid for coffee and breakfast, then paid another $50.00 for two boosters to help the diner stay open. That’s “A” for you. If I were several years younger and in a better financial situation, I’d be after him as I jokingly tell him from time to time. I’m glad I took the time to “adopt” him as my little brother. The kids only know him as Uncle “A”.
Today is Caly’s birthday and even though neither one of us has any money to do much, I wished her a Happy Birthday anyway. What she doesn’t know is that while she’s at dialysis tomorrow evening, there will be a surprise waiting for her on the dining table. My teenager is drawing a card for her and I think there is enough flour in the pantry to bake a small cake. I decided to use an idea my kids and I often do during the holiday season. We cut out pictures from old magazines or go to the library to print out the gift we would buy each other if we had the money. I figure we can make our own gift wrap from clean brown paper grocery sacks. I have some yarn scraps we could use for ribbon. If anything, I think Caly will get a kick out of her “gifts”.
I took my youngest daughter with me up to Caly’s plot in the neighborhood pea-patch. I spent a couple of hours weeding out all the prickly thistles trying to invade the little plot and used the communal wheelbarrow to hand truck moo-doo into her plot. It is donated by a local farm and comes in handy as the entire ground is glacial till and full of rocks. There isn’t much there other than the plants I put in from some left over seeds I had. Normally I am an heirloom gardener but the garden was started kind of late so I sowed fast growing plants to give her a start. If it’s possible and we have the money, we’d like to lease two lots next year, one for her and one for me. Fresh produce I don’t have to pay for is always a blessing.