This afternoon is spent at the Bread of Life Mission with Jeff Schuerman. The number 66 bus picks me up at 11:15 a.m. at the 42nd and Roosevelt stop in front of the University of Washington Medical Center. There is a pleasant conversation between an older black man and myself as we ride down into the city. My bus stops at the ferry terminal, I exit then walk four blocks down to South Main Street where The Bread of Life Mission is located.
As I approach the Mission a few familiar faces greet me and the usual sense of safety and warmth wash over me as I step inside the building through the kitchen entrance. For me, safety in Seattle is found amongst those who prisons are built for and most folks steer clear of. My wary glances are not cast at the unshaven vagabond on the corner but to the healthy, glowing middle class that comes to the city everyday to get what they can and scurries away before the sun goes down.
Back in the mission I have ascended the two flights of carpet covered stairs and make my way to Jeff's room. A knock on the door brings a weak reply from within. I enter.
Jeff is on his bed and lying on his side. Since his surgery to try and stymie the progress of his cancer it has been hard for him to lie flat on his back. He greets me with a smile (as always) and I ask him some general questions about how he his doing. The questions are more for my sake, not his.
After a few minutes the black digital recorder is pulled from my worn Eastpak and I begin to record his thoughts.
Within the first three minutes of his confessional he starts to talk about how different he feels from everyone else around him. My heart sinks as I listen to him speak and a general feeling of helplessness sweeps over me.
Here is an excerpt from what Jeff spoke.
I feel so different from everyone else; I feel alienated a lot. I'm sittin here thinkin out of everybody here in the Mission, out of the 63 guys we get every night and out of all the guys in the program, I'm the only one thats like this. I feel like these guys, they dont know what to say to me at times because they know I'm different.
Below is a picture of Jeff lying in his bed while men in the program roam the halls.
The pills are to prevent seizures.