On one of our stops on our trip up the coast, my sister and I stayed in a hotel near the Eel River. In the morning we crossed the street to check out the walking path next to the river. It was dirt. I couldn't really walk it with my leg weakness and balance issues. My walker would get bogged down on the rocks and little dips in the ground. So she went walking on the path, and I walked around the conference center and paved areas. There were some nice views, and benches where you could sit. They also had a cat sanctuary with a little gazebo. It started to rain,so I decided to sit in the gazebo and see if one of the cats were approach me. I think they were feral, since the two I saw were pretty skittish.
As I looked around for more cats, a guy wandered into the gazebo. Although he did not see all the way odd, his affect did seem to be a little blunted. But he commented on the rain, and the cool temperature. I thought, OK, that's pretty normal. His next comment was, "I just broke up with my girlfriend yesterday." Uh oh. Once again, I had attracted a "special person" who could not wait to tell me his life story. Why does this keep happening to me? My friend Chery says it's because of the "aura of serenity" I give off. Hmmm. Since I detected no hint of aggression, I decided to just go with it. I asked, "Did you break up with her, or did she break up with you?" He said he broke up with her, because he knew she was getting ready to break up with him. He went on to say, he was a very honest person, so he told her why he was dumping her. He explained that he had done a lot of reading, and he had learned to notice patterns of behavior, which in this case clued him in to what his girlfriend was thinking. At this point, he pulled out his pipe and toked up a little, releasing some smoke to dissipate into the air. I continued the conversation just prompting him, you know, "Oh, that sounds like the right thing to do", or "uh-huh". He continued talking until my sister showed up, at which point, I immediately said with more enthusiasm than necessary, "Ready to go?". She worked for Human Services her whole career, so she immediately recognized what was going on and said, "Yep, let's go". As I was getting into the car, I waved goodbye to Mr. Honesty. He waved back.
As we continued on our journey up the coast, I kept seeing more "special people" walking along the side of the highway, or standing on street corners with signs asking for money, etc. A lot of them had dogs for companions. My sister explained that California and Oregon have pretty good support services for homeless, mentally ill, addicted folks.
I noticed quite a few run-down shacks and trailers in the trees several yards off the road, or in the small towns we went through. Probably shelter for a lot of these folks. I wondered how many meth labs were hidden away back in those forests. Probably quite a few pot patches too. Evidence of this desperate poverty saddened me. Quite a clash with the California stereotype of glitz, decadence and excess portrayed in the media.