During a night crabbing , (not night club-ing 😀) in San Francisco, Boyong, a Fil-American homeless showed us an interesting lesson about crab mentality. He yelled “put the lid on or else this crab will escape” “ 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 see those Dungeness crabs pulling down each other while trying to crawl out to escape from the basket. Boyong talked about his sad experience with people trying to pull him down. He quipped, “We should do better than these crabs – championing people instead of destroying them”. Sounds like a clue on how we should treat him. That night some of his friends made fun of his 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 although he had an SRO (single room occupancy). He lamented that being homeless feels like he’s 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 for a moment and listen you probably could decipher what lies beneath his putrid smell instead of making a judgment.
One day there was a gaping hole 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, fixed the electrical and the plumbing system. Looks so good. He was indeed a contractor. He works best when he was drank, a drunken master. Alcohol –his daily elixir. He shivers when he stops drinking, I took him one day inside Westfield Mall to eat and the guards would usually shoo him away but not on my watch.
One time I met another homeless guy and I wanted to verify his claim. Wilson professes he earned a Ph.D. He could solve crossroad puzzles quickly. He read books, novels, anything. Unbelievable, he’s really out of this world, he mumbles a lot and talks to himself.
Yet Boyong confirmed, “that man has a doctorate in English literature!”. Whatever. But Boyong brought many of his zombie friends to our Bible Study group in Tenderloin. And yes, we saw lives transformed by our Lord Jesus. Here’s George who now works as a landscape artist. There was Dan who joined a team of ex-con waiters in a San Francisco restaurant. DeeJay a former executive who embezzled money now became a manager of a store.
MY OWN THEORY
Several years hanging out with Boyong, I came up with my own theory why someone would become homeless. At times, I believe it could be our choice of an easy way out. I could be a homeless too. That’s if I lose my senses and get tired of paying bills.
Fred an alleged contractor, told his story he owed huge amount of money to creditors and to the IRS, got divorced, lost his house and don’t want to pay child support. Some friends got mad upon hearing his story because that’s heartless.
He said his creditors forgave him after filing for bankruptcy except for the IRS. He was a melancholic person. He made several attempts to jump at the Golden Gate bridge. When he talks, he can’t stay on one subject. Soon he’s no longer showing up in our Bible meeting. No one knows his whereabouts. I felt a sudden prick in my heart. He was gone.
THE ROAD TO HOMELESSNESS
Boyong claimed he had a Mercedez Benz, a big fancy house in Daly City and a flourishing construction business. He was a successful businessman. His life spiral down and hits rock bottom —may be because of economic hardship, his alcohol addiction, or his chaotic relationships with his estranged wife and children. I don’t presume to know why. But when I looked in a mirror I saw Boyong’s broken self-image in me, his low self-esteem. Although God loves him unconditionally he has to fight his own demons. That wounded image could be the road to homelessness so I think.
Boyong craves for attention, he was a lively clown, fun to talk with, yet crying inside and laughing outside. Recently, we have not seen him for weeks, and we sensed something was wrong. We looked for him. He was outrageously drank. When he got sober he was happy to see us. Until one day he’s gone again, this time forever, he was found slumped face down on his bathroom floor. We held a memorial for him attended by friends, and most importantly,–his family, the people he was trying to win but also trying to forget. This time maybe those crabs he was referring to were now lifting him up, saying appreciative words which he can’t hear no more.