Saturday Morning Homeless Report From the Southern Oregon Coast

Images from my recent trip:

Reedsport: bedraggled men and women shuffle along Highway 101 pushing grocery carts and carrying bags of cans and bottles.

Lakeside: a young disheveled man with his possessions sits in the gravel off the highway.

North Bend: an elderly man sits in a wheelchair outside the Humboldt Club. I’m there for breakfast. He’s there because he’s homeless. I know he’s homeless because he told me after I asked how he was doing. He’d lost his housing the previous week but had a lead on a room in a basement or garden shed or something I didn’t catch. He knew it was coming through, however, he just knew and kept the faith. He tried selling me a mini tablet that worked but needed a charger. I asked how much? Three bucks he said. I said I already owned two tablets that streamed nothing but shit. I gave him three bucks anyway and told him to get a coffee and maple bar. He thanked me and cracked a big smile. (The thought of a maple bar can do that!) He commented that it was going to be a great day.

“You sure are optimistic,” I said.

“It’s always sunny with me,” he said.

I wished him well and he thanked me for talking to him.

It’s a strange and good feeling to be thanked for talking to a homeless man you just met and will never meet again.

Coos Bay: at least a dozen homeless people are splayed in alleys and doorways of the dismal downtown area. All ages. All colors. Men and women. They don’t look passed out. They look dead.

Port Orford: various derelict RVs abound along Highway 101. A few people walk the shoulders looking for cans and bottles.

Gold Beach: A woman in pajamas with a backpack is sobbing and swearing at the breeze; a black man with a gray beard holds a bindle while crossing the highway; a crazed young man wearing tattered clothing counts his change on a sidewalk; an elderly woman living out of her SUV hunts for agates at the beach with her blind dog; a homeless woman wearing a gold parka is walking in circles and gesticulating; a homeless man shows pictures of his baby son to a barista.

All this on one Saturday morning on the Southern Oregon Coast. Roughly a hundred miles.