The Drifter, Part 5, “Reclaiming Independence”

This series is about working with a 27-year-old homeless man, The Drifter, whom I hired to help me (and him).  I first met him two years ago when his pal was flying a sign — “Will work for money” — at the Wal-Mart exit.  Here, I might call him Heathcliff (from Bronte’s Wuthering Heights), or, when he’s having an “UP” day,  “Heathy.”  But when he’s difficult, I call him what he is:  “The Drifter.”

Wednesday, September 19

I can’t say I’m surprised that the Drifter didn’t show up today.  I’m learning that he’s all about himself, not the least concerned about how his actions affect others.  But I won’t fire him because I can use his help when he does show up, and what I’m learning about myself in the projections he reflects is definitely worth it.  (You’ll have to go the distance for that story.)

Having been alone most of my life, it doesn’t take long for me to bounce back when I’m disappointed.  I spent the morning three hours doing physical things on the garage project:

  • Went through pallets loaded with boxes – sorted the insides with other boxes labeled “keep” or “donate” or “trash.”
  • Collapsed the empty ones for recycling

After lunch, I spent two hours doing the business end of the project:

  • Made calls about getting a concrete slab in the garage
  • Marcus came and fixed the lockset on the human entry door
  • Showed the garage to a contractor who called later with a $6900 estimate
  • Scheduled the job with Bill who had ball-parked $3500 on the phone without seeing the garage.

It was a good day, and I got more done by myself than on any day when I had to supervise and work with The Drifter.

Thursday, September 20

My day was planned long ago, built around the cat groomer who comes to the house.  One of my adopted cats is a longhair.  In the summer of 2017, when she hadn’t decided yet whether she wanted to be feral or be part of my family, when she was still hanging out with other lost cats, she developed a large mat that was beyond help from me or any cat groomer.  Going under the fence pulled it backIMG_1204 until there was a painful flap that got caught in the cat door.  I’ve had to open my door for her ever since.  Ultimately, she showed up without the flap and had an angry red place on her back where it had been.  I vowed that she would never again have that horrible experience.

So when The Drifter suddenly appeared at 10 a.m., with no advanced notice or agreement, I reminded him that he had said he was not coming today.  I had made other plans and was expecting the groomer any minute.

“I’m here now,” he insisted.

And so I walked with him to the garage, knowing that Gwen, the groomer, would be showing up any minute, wondering where I was and why Bella wasn’t in her carry cage for the short ride downstairs to the “shop on wheels.”

I couldn’t stop my thoughts.  HE doesn’t listen to anything I say.  He doesn’t care about others, only what he wants when he wants it.  I could feel the explosion building as I tried to honor both commitments – to Gwen’s schedule and to HIS need to earn money for whatever that court thing was about.

We were in the garage, and I said: “Take the paint stuff down, organize it into boxes, and label the boxes.”

Bella was settled in Gwen’s trailer.  About an hour later, I checked up on my “helper.”  All the paint stuff was on the ground organized by use, just as it had been while on the shelves.  He had not boxed anything, much less labeled it.

<BOOM!>  I’d had enough.

I told him, “I can’t do this today.  You showed up with no warning, no agreement, just showed up because it suited you.  I told you when you arrived that I had plans and they did not include working in the garage.  If you want to continue, please come back tomorrow.”

He said he would, but I’m trained to believe it when I see the whites of his eyes.

Because he was becoming so difficult to work with, my resolve to help this Drifter was fading.

Friday, September 21

The Drifter did stop by, but only to say that he would not be here again until Monday around 10 a.m. because he had things to do in Rico about his court hearing (which he still hadn’t shared with me).

No worries.  Independent woman worked all day!

I cleared clutter off the 8’ long shelving unit for triplex maintenance that I had done for >20 years by sorting in separate boxes what I knew each thrift store would take.  I had phoned first and labeled the stuff for each venue.

Moving outside to sit on the sidewalk by the cherry tree, I painstakingly went through the last of my personal boxes, the hardest part.  It was pallets full of “maybe I’ll do this again” career stuff:  massage therapy, Alchemical Hypnotherapy, yoga teacher, self-empowerment workshop leader, DansKinetics® teacher.  I figured now was the time to decide if I could actually see myself ever doing that again or not.

<BOOM!> Suddenly, I knew what to do.

I will not be doing these again.  It wasn’t because I didn’t love doing them, but because I was doing something else now:  writing.  I had chosen my path when I was fourteen.  I had just seen GIDGET, and, like that character, wanted to “try different things” instead of “mastering only one thing.”  Now that I was finally writing, I wanted to do only that.

And so, I took all those boxes outside, sorted through them with donation boxes at the ready, and a large empty box labeled, “Shred.”

I tossed the boxes of cassettes I’d made of hypnotherapy for clients and of special yoga series with meditations for my yoga classes.

I filled up two 40-gallon cans with trash and one 30-gallon can with recyclables!

The handyman had been working on replacing lost mortar in the walls of my old cinderblock garage.  On one of his trips to the water hose, he saw a pen and ink drawing created by a former boyfriend.  He admired it, so I gave it to him.

“But first let me snap a photo, OK?”

Pen & ink drawing by Doug Senteney. It did not come with a title. I always thought of it as “The Conscious Warrior.”

I still love that drawing, but I do not love the way the relationship ended, and so it was easy to release it to someone who would enjoy it.

By the end of the day, I was so happy to pay Mark and son for their work which is always excellent, requires no supervision, and never involves arguing.  And I so looked forward to my weekend!

I planned to clean my neglected apartment, go to the laundromat, and read more of Clearing Clutter with Feng Shui because it is so motivating!  I also wanted to plan menus, shop for groceries, and recycle glass at the Tech Center.

On Sunday I would drive to Silverton to take photos of the Fall colors.  As of this day, I was reclaiming my life, and would have an ordinary, comforting weekend – without worrying about the Drifter!


Till next time,

“Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows.” ~Tzaddi

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