Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure. Paulo CoelhoIt's an interesting question. "Where is my heart?"
Today my heart is heavy. A tight work schedule. Stampede craziness. And, a heart-breaking situation with a client at the shelter where I work that leaves me feeling frustrated and the one thing I hate to feel - helpless.
He received a ticket from a police officer. Littering. $500.
As one staff member said when I asked him about how best to approach the gentleman about the situation, "How could they give him a ticket? One minute conversation with him and you know he's not all present. You know he's living in a world of his own."
The man in question is homeless. Visibly so if you were to see him on the street. He pushes a walker on which he has piled on and tied up his most precious belongings. He talks to himself. He talks to anyone around him. About music. Current affairs. Politicians. Anything that interests him. He uses big words. Big vocabulary. He has lots to say but it is hard to follow the thread of what he's saying.
And he got a $500 ticket for littering.
I didn't do it, he told me yesterday when I approached him to talk about helping him with his ticket. I don't need help.
I showed him the ticket he had put in the mail to the Court of Queen's Bench.
He immediately began to talk. Fast. "You shouldn't have that. I mailed it in. How did you get that. I didn't do it. I've got it all dealt with. There was a bus. I was waiting. I told the officer what I was doing. He asked for my ID. I waved at the bus driver. I had to go around some construction. How did you get that. I've mailed it in. That's a copy. I don't need help. I didn't even do it. I wasn't smoking. How could I have thrown away a cigarette butt? I don't throw butts. I roll them. How did you get that?"
I know you mailed it in, I told him. But the address you used for the courthouse was the shelter's address. So it came back to us. I'd like to help you with it.
And he repeated. "I don't need help. I've dealt with it. Talked to a commissionaire. I told them I can't pay it. I didn't do it.
And he walked away, back to the table where he had been sitting prior to my asking him to join me in the supervisor's office of our Day Area to talk about the situation.
When I spoke with our police liaison she told me the officer who gave the ticket didn't remember the details. "He'll have to appear in court. Get a court date and then hopefully, the judge will dismiss it."
But he doesn't believe he has to appear I told her. He believes he's dealt with it.
If he doesn't appear they'll issue a warrant and then he could be picked up next time for anything and he'll be remanded, she reminded me.
I know. But he doesn't.
And the circle continues.
A man with mental health issues. A homeless man who walks the streets everyday, a gentle and non-violent man who cannot comprehend how a ticket addressed to the shelter that he mailed with the intent of sending it somewhere else, is not a sign that 'someone' is watching him, following him, is now afraid.
Not of the ticket.
No, the ticket isn't the issue. He's dealt with that he said.
He's afraid that the 'someone' watching him is me and that I represent someone far more suspect than just 'administration' trying to help him right a wrong.
It is a tenuous situation for this man. His mental health doesn't provide the capacity to understand the gravity of what needs to happen with the ticket to ensure he doesn't lose his freedom to walk the streets whenever he wants.
His paranoia aroused, he believes the fact I had the ticket means I got it through nefarious means. I am party to those 'someones' who continue to watch his every move, track his every action.
And the ticket becomes obscured in the mists of his thoughts. The ticket from an officer who was just 'doing his job'. A ticket that doesn't serve any purpose other than to, perhaps, satisfy an officer's need to appear on the right side of the law with a man who has no understanding of his rights, let alone where he is now standing in jeopardy of the law. And now he is at risk. His freedom and his well-being in jeopardy if we do not find a way to help him move from paranoia to a place where he can understand what needs to happen to deal with a situation he doesn't understand.
Where is the treasure in my heart?
It is in knowing, believing, that there is a way through this confusion. That there is a way to help this man that will not cause him more distress, but will relieve the distress he is feeling.
I know there is a way. I just need to search for it outside the box of the law's constraints that would say, as the police liaison told me, there's nothing we can do at this point. It's in the system.
The ticket may be in the system, but this man doesn't need to be.