Live and let live: Ishmael


Wednesday  2016-01-06

“Live and let live” is a Recovery principle.  In recent weeks, it has been “in my face” from many different directions:

  • Recent challenges I’ve faced in managing my own feelings, have made me less judgmental of others who seem to me not to manage their feelings well.
  • Pastor and I are not on the same page concerning the concept of justice.  He is thus prone to say certain things in sermons that I don’t necessarily want to hear.  But I am in no position to demand that he abandon what is, for him, an honest and impassioned point of view.
  • Something in Jamilah King’s 12-16-15 .mic article hurt my feelings.   I have not yet re-read it to determine what specifically it was.  But if the mere expression of an opinion about social conditions can evoke that response from me, it does not bode well for what I hope to accomplish as William Tell the talk show host.  William Tell must be able to “Live and let live.”

Ishmael showed up at the shelter for the first time last night.  When he joined us in the crowd across the street waiting admission, his face said he’d already had a hard day.  Something told me he might be a screwball.

In the smoke pit as we were being admitted, he seemed to feel it was important the peacekeepers know he’d only be here for one night.  In his Nigerian accent, he explained that there’d been an incident where he’s been staying, and he chose to spend the day and night away from there rather than call police.

He fell asleep in the shower line, and the peacekeepers had much difficulty waking him up.  We actually thought he’d died.

Turns out he is a screwball.

The last three in the shower line were me, Earl, and him, in that order.  When I walked into the shower stall, my things were, as usual, in a small, neat pile on the bench.  It’s the same every day:  my trousers, folded, on the bench; a fresh t-shirt, folded, atop that; fresh socks, atop that; my diaper, folded, atop that; and my towel, folded, on top.

When I came out of the shower stall, he was sitting at one extreme end of the bench.  His stuff was strewn all over the bench.  My stuff was strewn all over, also.  His coat and shirt were on top of Earl’s stuff, at the other end of the bench.  He had my socks.  I got more.  He was sitting on my t-shirt, which proved to have got on the floor and got soiled.  I got another.  When I picked up my towel, he reached for it:  he thought it was his.  When I picked up my trousers, he reached for them:  he thought they were his.

This morning in the bathroom at Dunkin’ Donuts, I puzzled over these strange black marks on the front of my diaper.  They proved to be a shoeprint.  Sometime, my diaper had been on the floor, and someone wearing shoes had stepped on it.

Live and let live.

How upset can I get at a screwball?

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