October 9, 2012

Because the police officers had hassled me for at least an hour, and because there’s a smoke break every hour, some of the other homeless women were sitting on the porch for their smoke break by the time that the police officers and I were yelling at each other on the lawn of the shelter.

What that means, of course, is that now they have seen me get hassled by the police, and the ones who were already abusing me because they know that I can’t object to it because I’ve been told that I can’t or I’ll be in danger of having to leave the shelter are going to do it more.  I knew that right away, and, in fact, the harassment of me by those women was worse last night and this morning than it had been for a while.

When I went into the shelter, the staffperson said “I’m going to call the director.”  She also said “I don’t want to hear about any more of this,” and I think that she probably meant that if there are more incidents in which I get questioned by the police because someone who has harassed me calls them, or if I have to talk to the police because I’m getting abused and I’ve called them, she’ll say that I’m too much of a problem to have at the shelter and I’ll have to leave.

Later, when she was in the kitchen with me and some other women, she turned her head to the side and conspicuously rubbed her nose.

Things had been getting better at the shelter before the police showed up yesterday.  The woman who had been gibbering in the middle of the night and whom I had found holding onto the railing a few inches away from my head on three separate occasions has been told not to hold onto the railing near me anymore.  She also knows that if she is very loud at night the way that she has been, one of the other people in the room can prompt her to move on to the next thing, whether that’s going back to sleep or going downstairs for a while if she needs to sit and make that noise.

As soon as she knew that I or anyone else in the room could interrupt her during the gibbering, she stopped most of it and switched to coughing, and then, the next night, the coughing was a lot less, too.

I’m supposed to have a meeting with her and with one of the other women in the room, who had started yelling at me a few nights ago when I’d interrupted the woman who had been gibbering for a long time, before I’d gotten staff support to make an interruption, and who wouldn’t stop yelling until the woman in the bed across from the bunkbed had said “Stop it!” meaning “Everybody stop the yelling.”  My having said “LEAVE ME ALONE!” hadn’t worked, but that did.  I had woken up later that night to the woman who had yelled at me walking into the room muttering and saying “bitch,” before she got back into bed and coughing for a while before she went back to sleep.

Her yelling at me the other night surprised me, because she’s been there for weeks and we’ve  gotten along ok.  She’s done other things, too, in the past few days, like walking up to me in the kitchen and saying, loudly and rudely, “EXCUSE ME,” with the clear indication that I’m supposed to get out of her way, and rubbing her nose at me.  It’s a shared kitchen, and even the people who have harassed me haven’t been rude like that; everybody works around the fact that it’s a shared kitchen.

Several days ago, I met the woman’s husband.  They walked to the bus stop where I was, and, within a few minutes, the guy was saying things about “yogurt.”  A day or two after that, they both got on the bus after I’d gotten on the bus; he sat next to me and she had to sit across the aisle and a few seats away.  Then he started coughing.

The staffperson whom I’d spoken to who had told me that she thought it was a good idea to try to prompt the gibbering woman to move on to the next thing, and who had also taken seriously my concern that the gibbering woman and the woman who had yelled at me were starting to gang up on me had also told me that she thought I should call the social worker on Monday, which was yesterday, to tell her what was going on, and that the social worker might want to have an intervention with the two women.  The reason that the ganging up could be a problem is that it can lead to other things in the house; other women ganging up on me, my being blamed for things, more arguments, and those things could jeopardize my being able to stay at the shelter.

I did call the social worker yesterday, and she said that she could talk to me in the afternoon.  I went back to Waltham and to the park next to Waltham City Hall.  I had time before the meeting, so I took notes about what my goals were for it.  There’s a gazebo in the park.  It doesn’t have any chairs, and the edges of it tend to have trash and some food on the floor, so I sat on the floor in the middle of it.  There was nobody else in the gazebo.  About half an hour before I was supposed to be at the meeting, I looked over my shoulder and saw that my roommate’s husband was in the gazebo with me, leaning on its railing, a few feet behind me.  He hadn’t said anything to me when he got there; he must have seen me from outside the gazebo and walked into it and stood directly behind me without my seeing him.

I said “Hi.”

He said “Hi.”

I said “Are you waiting for (my roommate)?”

He said “Yeah; I have to meet her at the bus stop.”

There’s no bus stop in the park.  There’s a bus stop at the bottom of the hill, and there’s a bus stop up the street.  There’s no bus stop from which his wife would have been able to see him when she left the bus, with him in the gazebo in the park.

I decided that I would go to the building where I was supposed to talk to the social worker, even though it was only 2:30 p.m. and the meeting was at 3:00 p.m..

The office for the Bristol Lodge is in the same building that has the men’s section of the Bristol Lodge shelter and the Auxiliary Fire Station.  Here are pictures that I took of and next to that building:

Talking to the social worker yesterday was all right, except that I didn’t feel that I could talk to her about the harassment problem without her pretending not to know what I was talking about and treating me as if there were something wrong with me, and also except for her response when I tried to talk to her about how I had just turned around in the park and seen that my roommate’s husband had gotten into the gazebo and gone to stand a few feet back and directly behind me without having let me know that he was there.  By the time that I told her that, I had also told her that I thought that the husband’s attention toward me as soon as I’d met him might be the reason that my roommate had suddenly turned hostile to me when she hadn’t been before.

The social worker said “Maybe he’s just not the kind of guy who says much.”

He’d said quite a bit the first time that I’d met him, when my roommate had introduced me to him; she and I were both objecting to his behavior after a few minutes.

Here’s a picture of the gazebo yesterday; there’s only one entrance to it.  That’s my bag in the middle of it, where I had been sitting while taking notes.  I took this picture before he got there:

When I was sitting in the gazebo, before I turned around and saw that he was there, I had been facing to what is the left of the entrance if you look directly at the picture.  I also was looking at my notebook.  I didn’t hear or see him walk into the gazebo.  Did he see me in the gazebo when he was in the park and then climb over the wall of the gazebo so that he could stand there behind me?

Everybody who stays at the shelter has to do a chore every day.  My chore this month is to clean the bathroom on the first floor.  Last night, when I was cleaning the bathroom, I noticed that there was something with numbers on it in the fan that’s above the shower.  Whatever it is says “0292” on it.  I tried to take pictures of it:

Copyright L. Kochman, October 9, 2012 @ 2:09 p.m./edited @ 2:11 p.m.