Money Crazy: Crazy for Money


This was written as a continuation of "Stinky Shorts In Frigid Temperatures"; this is another case study or look at debilitating mental illnesses in the homeless community. This is a call to love and "be there" for the "least of these"; men, women and children scattered throughout our communities (whether homeless or not).....

I pull up in the car, and immediately he's there, pounding on my window. I open it to the words; "hey dad, (that's what he calls me) you gotta help me get my money, take me the Currency Exchange. Can you take me? Can you take me dad?"  

He'd been waiting for quite a while. Everyone knew it and had warned me. In fact it was the second time I'd pulled up and both times he'd come with exaggerated urgency and great expectations. This time I had to get out of the car, and as soon I opened the door, he approached with his arms by his side, head tilted slightly forward and his Newport cigarette smelling breath only inches from my face, repeating, and repeating, the same questions with his monotonous voice.

La'Shawn's problem is very real to him; he has his disability check in his hand, but doesn't have an ID! He has $698.00 that he can't cash. He needed help, I had successfully assisted him in the past, so he was convinced that I could solve his dilemma again. This urgency was increased by the fact he owes various people money, and their frustration was increasing, because they can only wait.
quote from Glen Close

La'Shawn is also a man with a severe mental illness; he lacks impulse control and any notions of giving people an inch of personal space. Combine this with his very debilitating schizo-affective disorder, it makes it extremely hard for him to function in this technological society. Apart from talking to people literally centimeters from their faces, he will endlessly ask for what he wants. Whatever enters his mind, he blurts out. Even when we say "no", he'll repeat that same question a hundred times. He drives everyone crazy, because most of his questions have to do with borrowing or getting money. Yet despite all this, La'Shawn is also a generous man. Once he cashes that check, he foolishly gives a ton of it away. Last time I helped him at the local Currency Exchange, he walked out and gave a couple kids $20.00 each proclaiming "I love kids." I tried stopping him, but there was no way, it was in their hands within seconds of receiving it. The negative side to this generosity is that the Uptown snakes also know this about him, and they attack without mercy, leaving La'Shawn penniless in just days. In other words; it's a major dilemma in this modern society to lack any impulse control; whatever enters his mind, he does or says, leaving him in some fairly perilous or grave situations.   

I tell him; "let's go!" and lay out some simple ground rules, "if they can't do it, we leave, we're not going to argue with them. OK?" "Yes Jeremy", he says as we wander around the corner, making our way to the Currency Exchange.

We bump into Mojo, who surprises me, by confronting La'Shawn; Mojo is normally a peaceful brother, but he's aggravated today...
"You better get Ed his money!"
"That's none of your business"
They continue this hostile exchange of words, while getting closer and closer to each other. I urge La'Shawn to cross the street, but the slightly intoxicated Mojo follows yelling threats. The confrontation starts again, right in front of the Currency Exchange, and this time they begin chest bumping, pushing, calling each other names and finally La'Shawn slaps Mojo. No-one's hurt, but I'm frustrated by this stupidity, I get Mojo to move on, while La'Shawn and I go inside.

It doesn't go well inside. They have already cashed 2 of his checks before, but there's no way they'll do it today. It's too much of a risk for them, as he doesn't have an ID. He kept on pleading and talking over the man behind the counter, so I had to hush him a few times. They weren't going to budge, that was their policy, so we left.

As we crossed the street, Mojo was waiting and walked right up on him again, bumping him with his chest and yelling "you going to hit me?". Smash, a small Demetri gin bottle shatters on the ground. Mojo had it in his pocket and had raised it, but La'Shawn had knocked it out of his hand. Another fella and I separated them without anyone getting hurt, and I walked off with La'Shawn. Another violent incident interrupted.

We go back to the shelter and I need to try and work out how to get him his cash. I have him sit in a safe place as we explore options, but to no prevail. This is another aspect of his debilitating mental disorder; he cannot read, write or follow directions, so getting his birth certificate and State ID is an almost impossible endeavor. We'd tried and tried, but he's so impulsive and scattered, such accomplishments are rare for a guy like La'Shawn. So today, we (again) kept emphasizing the vital importance of getting these documents.

While making phone calls and looking frantically for an answer, a mad drunk Mojo had come around the corner seeking revenge with yet another bottle. Thankfully, this time they didn't see each other, because our security stopped him and diverted another violent incident. Mojo left the neighborhood peacefully.

La'Shawn had another idea; a local little convenience store. They'd cashed his disability check for him before, but he owed them $75.00 and he wanted to pay them back. He needed me to go with him and I said I would, but I set the same ground rules again, knowing how persistent he can be! I also told him, "if this doesn't work, you're going to have to wait until you get that ID." I knew there was a strong probability they didn't even want him in their store, and would kick him out immediately.

That's exactly what happened. The owner got so irate, he waved his arms in the air, cussed and told him to get out. He kept yelling, with his veins popping in his forehead. He didn't stop his verbal assault until I had completely escorted La'Shawn out of the store. He had another acquaintance waiting for him outside, hoping our new plan would work. Jack wasn't happy either, yet he was able to remain calm, because he was also waiting for La'Shawn to pay him back the money he owed him.

They walked down the street together, and I went home in the opposite direction. There was nothing more I could do. We had tried. Hard. We made plans to get his ID, it just couldn't be done today. 

That was one eventful hour, and it's going to be one long continuous rugged journey with La'Shawn. People who suffer with mental illnesses like La'Shawn need us to keep on supporting them and persevering with them, not matter what they put us through. Their lives aren't a joke; their lives are very real to them, their "craziness" is very real to them. They are just trying to make it in an efficient technological world that doesn't cater to their specific needs. They need our prayers.

They need us to be as Jesus was to the outcasts in His day.
They need our love;
that Revolutionary Kingdom Love that Jesus demonstrated and led him to the cross....

which led to the Resurrection....

which sets captives free. 
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