Trevor likes to cut off his clothes. "It's not a sex thing, or even self-harm," I repeat to the daycare owner at least twice a week, "He's off his meds and that's just how he copes."
8:30am Trevor arrives for breakfast wrapped in a blanket, shirt shredded, shoes wrapped in duct tape, shriveled weinie peeking out his outsized sweatpants for air. I snag a puffy coat out of the clothing closet to cover him up and away we go in the church van to talk with Social Security. Except the line is wrapped around the building and nobody, not me, not Trevor, and certainly not the underpaid shmucks running the metal detectors, want to see what Trevor has going on under his jacket. We go back to the church.
8:50am I use my last remaining free time to swig coffee and send Good Catholic Boyfriend two new poems.
9:00am One of the pastors texts me in a panic. They've got a 16-year-old runaway boy and could we come speak with him? While I have two office mates compare his stats with a recent Missing Child poster, I run down and bring him into an office for questioning. Nice kid, bad home situation, figures he can get by on his job at the local bike repair shop and sleeping in the train station. I'm amazed he's lasted three months without getting raped (that he will admit at least). I run upstairs to the foster home office and ask pretty please if they can talk to him? They nod and pretty soon the kid has four couselors converging on him.
9:30am I email every youth shelter I can think of while the city asks me for his qualifications (is he gay? Is he crazy? Just a little crazy or just crazy enough?), none of which, by the end of the day, were able to respond.
9:45am Another case worker comes in and embraces me. Her cat had suffered a major injury three days ago and I had managed thru sheer dumb luck to find a donor to agree to pay the vet bill. She is over the moon. She is exhausted. She moved seven homeless people into housing the same day her cat was injured, and she still has paperwork to fill.
10am I push food on the 16-year-old and run down to the clothing closet to find clothes his size. The pastor happens to have his size jeans in her car. While I wait for her to return, the room packed with crosses, nuns, inspirational art, one artist silently sketching portraits, and forty stinking strangers silently eating their grits, a white lady I don't recognize stands up and addresses me by my full name.
"Do you remember me? I asked your help a while back to get (man I don't remember) into housing. Do you remember him? (I don't) You got him a job with (another name I don't recognize)? Anyway he's doing great, I wanted to send you flowers but I didn't know where to find you."
I am too stunned to say anything meaningful, but then the pastor returns with pants so I hug the white lady, make positive noises, and run upstairs. I'm sure she thought this news would lighten my day. It doesn't. It's nice to be thanked, absolutely, but on a crisis day like today it's like the sun seen from the bottom of the ocean, I am too far from everyone to appreciate its warmth.
10:30am A landlady emails me to complain about a client's loud radio. Frankly I was afraid this client was going to shit her bed so I count my blessings and let her newly appointed Nigerian psychiatrist freak out (with what I can tell is genuine love in her heart) at me over the phone.
10:45am A client's apartment hasn't passed inspection, but fortunately the city is bearing down on the landlord to get his act together.
11:00am A client has missed her clinical appointment. If she doesn't meet with his clinician in the next thirty days, they will change the lock on her apartment. Fine, I'll visit her in the woods later.
11:15am The foster care agent takes the kid into my office to strategize. The kid insists he can take care of himself on the streets. The agent and I take turns gently encouraging him to reconsider, that he could stay with a foster family for two weeks, somewhere near his job at the bike shop. His face gives away nothing. He says yes. The foster agent, sending up a two-finger kiss to Jesus, starts calling families with available bedrooms.
11:20am My music publisher asks how I would like my name to be spelled for an upcoming interview (I got lucky and made a lot of money for them with a recent rock music arrangement).
11:25am The city asks if another client wants a free apartment, a fancy one downtown that is remarkably tolerant of drug addicts. I hit reply so fast the room spins, only to discover he'll be waitlisted. Fuckers.
11:30am I am so tired. I am losing words. It takes me and another woman our combined effort to refill the coffee maker. The foster agent pulls me aside and says they're booking a hotel for the kid tonight while they begin an investigation into his home life. I sincerely hope the kid ran away for stealing his uncle's silverware and was not molested.
11:50pm Brief phone call with my ops man about scheduling a shelter build for the local science gallery. I assign him mild calendar and material order tasks. Good man to have on board.
12:00pm Pick up my dad for lunch with my favorite aunt. Lunch is amazing and wholesome, lots of chatter between the two of them about travel and grandkids. A musician pal texts me for advice on running efficient non-profit board meetings. A journalist I'd worked with in the past asks if I can call and answer questions about a homeless client who was murdered last year. The airport texts me that they found Loud Radio client, and I reply with the Nigerian Psych's cell number and lots of heart emojis. I wish I could silence my phone, but I'm on the clock. The grits are freaking amazing at this place.
1:30pm I drop my dad back at his place with a change of clothes for the kids and details for how to get the city pool family pass I just purchased. The kids can't wait to return to the heated indoor pool. I can't wait to get some fucking sleep before I have to deal with the Night Count tonight.
2:00pm I decide to get it over with and call the journalist. The whole thing takes an hour, and while some questions should have hit harder but didn't ("How many dead bodies have you found?" has lost its sting), the whole process of remembering the last days of an old gay man, whose murder is still unsolved, was incredibly sad.
"Did you know he actually was a professional dancer?" the journalist said near the end, "I found his mentor back in New York. He was in magazines. He was in Michael Jackson's 'Bad' video and toured with him for years. He had a gift. What was he like when you knew him?"
Oh no. "All his toes were amputated. Frostbite. He was in constant pain." I leave out the worst, how my client was so crippled that his apartment was smeared in his own shit, that the landlord at the time was incredibly compassionate and paid to replace the carpets.
4:00pm I go to bed, can't sleep. I return work emails. I check facebook for my dead client's account. It is full of photos of him as a young, beautiful, graceful dancer. I had no idea.
5:00pm I am in bed and can't sleep. My husband, who is also going to be a team lead for the night count tonight, also can't sleep. We get high and make love.
6:00pm Good Catholic Boyfriend texts me, that I am in his thoughts and he hopes I've had a good day. I don't give him any details, just that today was rough, and prod him for wholesome stories from his world.
6:15pm My dad sends happy photos of the kids in the pool. My son is frozen in mid-air above the water's surface, elated.
6:20pm The foster agent texts me the hotel address where they're keeping the kid while DFCS investigates his family.
6:30pm FedEx called, the six foot apple tree I ordered as a grave marker for one of our recently deceased cats is en route.
7:30pm A wealthy investment executive and non-profit guru from my church requests that me have a chat about future collaboration. I reply with professional delight.
8:00pm Time to leave for the Night Count. A homeless youth in a wheelchair texts me, "I can't stand the cold. Where can I go?" I reply with instructions for which bus to take to the warming centers. He will continue to text me for the next twenty-four hours, assuring me he's safe.