The rainy weather is back. It was a very rainy and cool summer for Vermont, and although it only nudged a record or two, still it was a noticeable phenomenon which was commented on by many people again and again. It was difficult to not see some form of impact via climate instability, better and more inaccurately known as ‘Global Warming.’ The hay farmers were particularly hard-hit as hay needs several days of dry weather to harvest. It was also rather unpleasant for those with outdoor lifestyles. One would check the weekly forecast and see day after day after day of rain scheduled and, unfortunately, the forecasts were all too often right on the mark.
But then, finally, in the period around Labor Day, we got our ‘summer,’ as good weather lasted for periods of a full week at a time, which, due to what had come before, was very noticeable. Alas, that seems to have passed now. We’ve had rain for two days now, and the forecast for the next ten days shows rain occurring in eight of them. I get my weather data from www.intellicast.com. Intellicast also has a neat Global weather page thanks to the wonders of modern satellite technology. So, we’re back to the summer pattern of rain, rain, rain. And this time around, we also have to deal with the lower temperatures of Autumn. It’s 45*F this morning (feels like 42*F), with a high temperature forecast for today of only 47*F.Â From here on in, it will be a rare day that we see a day in the 60’s, although I’m sure we’ll have a few more.
This makes the homeless experience more difficult as all the park benches and other outdoor resting places are wet and unsuitable for spending periods of time. You look at rainy (and, soon, snowy) weather differently when you are unhomed and are trying to pass the time in your day without passing all your money away [yes, I know what I almost, but not quite, said]. So it’s back to the public library. I am fortunate in that I like to read whereas many of the other people at the shelter do not. They often doze off in the library and must face the increasing ire of the librarians, who, though they are gentle folk and do not want to push people out into the rain, nevertheless, will not put up with snoring or sleeping patrons.
This type of weather also leads to increasing depression among the more indigent of society, which is perhaps somewhat reflected in the tone of this post. It is difficult enough to be dispossessed in good weather, but when you feel that even the weather has turned against you, emotions run high and oftentimes tempers flare. Thus there is always greater drama in the shelter in periods of poor weather. This was true over the summer and is already raising its ugly head again. It is almost (but not quite) humorous that people with so many challenges in front of them invest their energy on arguing about what is showing on the television. During such times, it is simply best to keep to oneself and just go to bed early.
The shelter is always full these days, with the economy being so bad, and the crowding of 22 people into a two story house designed for a large single family does not help matters as there is nowhere to escape and find peace and silence. But, at the same time, one is grateful for the roof over one’s head and the nightly meal, although I am hearing more and more complaints from some of the guests about hot dogs and mac and cheese, which, when they appear on the table twice or more weekly begins to become tedious, even if one is hungry. This type of reaction most often comes from those who are refusing or unable to deal with their ‘situation,’ and are still looking for some event to come along and ‘rescue’ them from the trials of having to learn to make your own future. It also seems to come more from younger people than from middle-aged or older ones, though not entirely. At 61, I am the oldest guest in the shelter, and try to offer what encouragement and advice as I am able, but some do not want to hear anything which might cause them to think of a long struggle. They want a quick and concrete answer to their problems, and, clearly, no such answer exists for them.
It is somewhat unfair to characterize these people poorly as there really is a great challenge in finding ANY kind of work at all. I have already noted in a prior post that there are now 6 applicants for every available job on average in the U.S today. Competition is high and any kind of disadvantage weighs heavily against the applicant for a position. And, again, as previously noted, things are only going to worsen for the next several years at least. So, when you look up from the bottom at the situation in America, it is a very scary affair. And most people, who are cruising along in their life, only confront this from the occasional news headline or sometimes in hearing about a fellow co-worker who has fallen on hard times. Still, for more and more people, this type of awareness will be coming soon to lives all around you.