During a night crabbing , (not night club-ing 😀) in San Francisco, Boyong, a Fil-American homeless showed us an interesting lesson about crab mentality.
“Put the lid on or else this one will escape” , he yelled throwing his first catch on the basket.
A few minutes later he threw more crabs, “now you keep it open, no need for the cover”.
Amazing to watch those Dungeness crabs pulling down each other, trying to crawl out from the basket. Boyong disclosed his sad experiences with people trying to pull him down.
He quipped, “We should do better than these crabs, we should build people instead of destroying them”.
That night his fellow friends made jokes of their own misery as homeless. Despite his flaws, Boyong was a very generous person. He shares his pack of cigarettes, gives away noodles, and canned goods to his fellow homeless.
A HOLE ON HIS CHEST
Boyong prefers to hang out on the streets of Tenderloin for years despite having an SRO (single room occupancy). He lamented that being a homeless feels like an invisible person. Normal people ignore him and don’t want to talk to him. His bad breath makes you vomit. But if you can endure his putrid smell and listen, you probably could decipher him before making a judgement.
One day a gaping hole turned up in our floor and Boyong offered to fix it. No charge for his labor. He claimed to be a former contractor. That saved us money!
“Oh yeah, he was able to fix that hole, but not the one on his chest”.
When a friend donated a brand new washer and dryer, Boyong happily installed them for us. He fixed the electrical and the plumbing system. But he works best when he was drank, he called himself a drunken master. Alcohol –his daily elixir, makes him shiver when he tried to stop drinking.
One time I met another homeless guy Wilson who professes he earned a Ph.D. He could solve crossroad puzzles quickly. He devour books, novels, just anything. Except he’s really out of this world, he mumbles and talks to himself.
Boyong confirmed, “that man has a doctorate in English literature!”. Okay, whatever. Boyong brought zombie- friends like Wilson to our Bible Study group in Tenderloin. Well yes, we saw lives being transformed by Jesus. Here’s George who now works as a landscape contractor. Danny joined a team of ex-con waiters in a San Francisco restaurant. DeeJay a former executive who embezzled money became a manager of a store. Listen to their stories.
MY OWN THEORY
Several years hanging out with Boyong, I came up with my own theory why someone becomes homeless. At times, I believe it’s an easy way out. Say I lose my mind, that is, if I become addicted with drugs or alcohol or get tired of paying bills.
Fred an alleged contractor, said he owed huge amount of money to creditors. Got divorced, lost his house and don’t want to pay child support. People get mad at him hearing his story.
His creditors forgave him after filing for bankruptcy except for the IRS and the child support thing. He was a melancholic person. He made several attempts to jump at the Golden Gate bridge. When he talks, his thoughts wanders around. Until he’s no longer showing up in our meetings. No one knows his whereabouts. I felt a sudden prick in my heart. He was gone.
THE ROAD TO HOMELESSNESS
Boyong bought a Mercedez Benz, a big fancy house in Daly City and owned a construction company. He was a successful businessman. Until his life spiral down and hits rock bottom —he was bankcrupt, separated, alcohol addict , and had difficult relationships with his wife and children. When I look in a mirror sometimes I saw Boyong’s broken self-image in me. His low self-esteem, his failures in life and family. Nevertheles, God loves him unconditionally , but he has to fight his own demons… not alone. That wounded image he’s trying to overcome by himself, could be the road to homelessness.
Boyong craves for attention, he was a lively clown, fun to talk with. Crying inside but laughing outside. Recently, we have not seen him for weeks, and we sensed something was wrong. We looked for him. Found him outrageously drank. When he got sober he was happy to see us. Until one day he was gone again, this time forever. He was found slumped face down on a bathroom floor. We held a memorial attended by friends, and most importantly,his family- the people he was trying to win but also trying to forget. This time those crabs he was referring to were lifting him up with words of appreciation he can’t hear no more.