August 16, 2018, Mafia on Her Shoulders

Francine recounts: I met Mafia on the Number 9 bus on my way to meet Nelson for our fortnightly burrito run.

The diminutive, patchy white cat was draped across the shoulders of a petite, dark-complexioned African-American woman, her right foot securing a skateboard on the bus floor.

I could see that she was a street person. I sat down next to her and asked her about her cat.

“She’s with me all the time,” the woman said. She said that she had been on the streets for six years, always with Mafia wrapped around her shoulders.

I invited her to come with me.

“You will ‘ll get a free burrito,” I invited.

She shook her head.

She related that someone had destroyed her tent, the covering that many unhoused people use for shelter.

Again, I urged her to come with me.

She declined. “No, I’m going to Seventh Street to panhandle.”

I was saddened by this. It was only one of the many stories we find from people on the street who for whatever reason cannot accept any of the kindness offered.

Later I reflected, even if she had come with me, what else could I do for her? She would still be on the street that evening.

That’s why Nelson and I are so focused on finding a way of transitioning street people, the unhoused, into permanent housing.

Nelson Barry III