Skip to main content

Homeless advice in recent "Ask Joey" columns

The first thing I read in the Sacramento News & Review each week is Ask Joey, a relationships and commonsense column, written by Joey Garcia.

Joey is about seven levels of maturity and brilliance and compassion above those relationship newspaper columnists I grew up reading: the twins, Ann Landers and Abby of "Dear Abby." Often, I am blown away by Joey’s insight into the human psyche.

Last Week, Joey responded to a parenting question that dovetailed, sorta, to an issue I have with a great many poor mothers I see on the street. This week, she responded to a situation regarding a homeless person shoplifting.

Joey Garcia
I had complained about parenting skills in Homeless World, writing in the post "A long line and loot," on Nov. 20, "It was sad to see some of the woman with children that I saw this morning and see most days. Many of those kids are brutalized; they need more-loving mothers and the attention of their fathers."

This quote by Joey Garcia, from her 11/25/10 column of "Ask Joey" in the Sacramento News & Review snags the pith of how parents should be.  Listen up, you homeless parents:
Good parenting always places the best interest of the child above a parent’s own perceived needs and desires. Parenting is an opportunity for adults to learn how to be selfless, a key skill of maturity.
In THIS week's issue [for 12/2/10], Joey responds to this concern from a reader:

What do you do when you see a homeless person stealing? I was in a Grocery Outlet store, and this woman came in who, obviously from her smell and appearance, lived on the streets. She shoplifted a few items righ in front of me, and I was so startled I didn't say anything. She left immediately and, as I was thinking about it, I started justifying her action because of the crazy social-service system we have. What do you think?
Joey's response:
If it happens again, it's unlikely that you will be as surprised.  So try this: Admit to the person, if it feels safe to do so, that you observed the act of stealing.   Offer to buy the item as a gift if she (or he) puts it back on the shelf.  Then after the person exits, alert the store manager.  After all, if you owned or managed the store, wouldn't you want to know?
Funny thing that is not at all funny is that I have myself recently been flustered by being told by a homeless person of his theft.

A homeless guy, whom I'll call Charlie, who was "the life of the party" at the mission when I knew him about a year ago, recently returned. Apparently, for his interests, Sacramento and the mission have changed for the worse. As compared to a year ago, he is prevented from doing the things he likes to and in engaging in his slightly-illegal business — so he's leaving in a matter of days for Colorado.

Yesterday, he told me, with some giggling pride, that he stole some person's backpack at the train station and now has a cellphone.

I wish I had at least loudly voiced disapproval, but I've gotten acclimated to the wanton ways of homelessness, including my own wry acceptance of rascality by grown men.

Someone with us asked what else was in the backpack and Charlie said, in an offhanded way, but with a smile, "Just some college papers and clothes."

There's not an inkling of thought about the person who owned the stolen backpack, and how losing one's stuff is painful and disruptive.

I think that Joey's response to the woman who witnessed a homeless person shoplifting was perfect: Compassionate, yet intolerant of theft.

Tonight at the mission I'm going to let Charlie know I think it was wrong for him to have taken the backpack. Concerns for my own well-being in the homeless realm prevent me from doing more.  I'll just slink off to the corner and lick wounds that I don't have.


Nagarjuna said…
One of my favorite advice columnists was Dr. Joyce Brothers. I don't know if she still does a column; she's getting up there in years. But what I always liked about her was the psychological depth she brought to her advice. She didn't simply condemn people who did questionable things. She might condemn their actions, but she offered cogent psychological explanations for those actions and credible psychological advice for dealing with them. We need more of that sort of thing.

As for lengthier and more "literary" advice, Cary Tennis of is also pretty good.
Tom Armstrong said…
Thanks, Nagarjuna. I will check out Cary Tennis and see if I can find Dr. Brothers's column -- with one eye looking for homeless issues they may have addressed.
Tom Armstrong said…
Here's one Cary Tennis Q&A re a homeless man in the house.

Dunno if Tennis got things 'just right'; will need to consider. Hmmm

Popular posts from this blog

The Mission Five Years Ago, And Today

I have spent the night the past two weeks plus at the Union Gospel Mission and am having an excellent time of it -- not only regards to sleeping in the dorm that the mission has, but also listening to the sermons that are delivered in the early evening. The Christmas music that is performed is also splendid. [And the food -- the FOOD -- has been fantastic during my stay so far! A happier Tom there couldn't be.] I chatted with a pal last night about The Mish – about how things were about five years ago when we both used the mission’s services frequently, and how thing are, today.
Five years ago, there were a lot scuffles between the guys when the front gate was opened in the early afternoon and in the area near the contact window there were some brawls as guys fought over where guys were in line to get a bed in the dorm.
Nowadays, however, the mission is very much a peaceful place both on the grounds of the facility and and out on the street.
I do not know what transformative eve…

Homeless Sacramentans lose case that would have given them the right to set up outdoor camping

8/11/13 I certainly give attorneys Mark Merin and Cat Williams credit for pursuing a case against the city of Sacramento to give homeless Sacramentans the right to set up tents and a campsite. I wanted them to win their case, but they didn't. They lost it.

BUT, it is also necessary to look at the particulars of the case that Merin and Williams brought and see that the situation underlying the court case was not very compelling.

During the period eight years ago when 22 homeless campers set up their tents and brought in supplies to Mark Merin's vacant lot at C Street, near 12th, there was loud noise and plenty of other mayhem. Drug dealers were on the street encouraging buys from the campers. The Hernandez couple that lived in a house nearby were constantly being taunted by the campers, disrupting their lives.

Per always with Safe Ground camps, calm was deserted for the sake of boisterousness.

Leader John Kraintz and the other Safe Grounders would claim to have signed strict a…

After a Three-Month Hiatus, a Fall from a Ladder & a Broken Wrist, Evangelist Jimmy Roughton Returns to Union Gospel Mission to Preach

After being away from Union Gospel Mission for a quarter of a year, Jimmy Roughton returned to preach at UGM on the cold night of December 13 -- despite suffering [a little? a lot? dunno.] from a fall from a ladder that likely immediately preceded a significant injury (a wrist that was broken).

It was good to see his group from Capital Free Will Baptist Church up on the pulpit, with Roughton rough-and-ready to seduce and inspire the happily-captivate crowd at UGM.

Roughton told us in his opening words that he was now in his 27th year coming to the mission.

I recall the first preaching I had heard from Roughton on June 13, 2009. At that time and up to the current time, Roughton is the only preacher I had ever heard evoke Pascal's Wager -- which is something he would do, occasionally thereafter at the mission. He would evoke Pascal's wager, yet again, last night [12/13/17].

Pascal's wager

Last night, Jimmy evoked Pascal's Wager. He did so near the end of his talk, citing …