We need rules, especially rules of civility, including for the homeless. People may have lost homes, but they don’t have to lose their civility. But rules are only as good as when they are enforced. Below are rules I got off the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) site. I copied the text perchance the link becomes unavailable, no longer in effect, as are rules AHTN has for the homeless. I just included the rules that have been a problem and where enforcement was lacking.
“TRANSPORTATION GUEST GUIDELINES
We hope that you will feel welcome while riding with us. In order to ensure that everyone has a positive experience, we ask that you follow these rules.
If you have any questions or special needs, particularly of an emergency nature, please ask the Driver Attendant for assistance.
Drugs/Alcohol – Absolutely no non-prescribed drugs or alcohol are to be consumed or carried by any guest. If found, items will be confiscated and the police will be called. “
Within the past few years, some homeless people have been coming to the community meals drunk. They must have been drunk while on the bus. On one occasion, a guy who was evidently drunk, whose speech was slurred started on me by continually telling me to shut up as I was quietly talking to someone on the seat behind me He was a few seats down on the other side. Nobody from AHTN said anything to him.
An example of the other rules that AHTN has not enforced is its rules on behavior and harassment, which overlaps with, and is often caused by alcohol consumption.
“Behavior – Behavior that threatens the safety of other guests or volunteers will be grounds for immediate removal from the vehicle and you will be asked to leave. Inappropriate language and/or gestures and/or name-calling will not be tolerated. Police will be called if necessary.
Harassment – No threats or acts of violence will be tolerated in any way. Any attempt to impose your will on another will be considered an act of violence. Harassment in any form (whether it is verbal, physical, emotional, mental or sexual) will not be tolerated, nor will aggressive or intimidating behavior of any kind be tolerated. Inappropriate behavior during an AHTN event will result in removal from the current activity and a limitation of attendance at future AHTN events. Police will be called if necessary.”
Rules on behavior and harassment are interrelated. On the occasion when the drunken homeless guy kept telling me to shut up, he made a veiled threat when we got to the community meal, where he almost tripped on his own two feet. He said he’d have a surprise for me when I got off the bus. When I asked him for details, he snapped “You’re smart; you can figure it out, Gevorkian.” I replied that I, Gevorkian, would be glad to euthanize him and added that I’d be doing a dual service: Assisted suicide and pest control.
At one point, the guy asked “meet me outside.” I didn’t oblige him but when I started walking towards the bathroom, he stammered that he’ll get me on the way to the bathroom. He stomped up behind me, and when he got close, I spun around and went into a defensive position. Soon, one of the hosts got between us and broke it up. We separated. The host who got between us thanked me “for being calm.” The drunken troublemaker was banned from this meal permanently, not by AHTN, but by the host.
He wasn’t banned from the bus, as per AHTN’s rules.
On another occasion, about a year later, the same homeless guy who harassed me while under the influence did the same at The Redeemer Lutheran Church in Penndel, PA. He walked into the meal roaring drunk. He had taken the AHTN bus. Another guest was sitting the end of the table, talking about a court case about a homeless camp where the residents were threatened with eviction. The drunk started yelling at the man, that “what kind of life do you have” by sitting in on court cases. He started yelling obscenities and started charging after the man, even slightly clipping him in the face as he started swinging at him.
Some other homeless guests tried to calm him down. It took three of the male hosts to pull the man, raging like T-Rex, away. The maniac was ushered to the far side of the large hall. Christine and Dave from AHTN accompanied him.
The police showed up. They approached the victim of the unprovoked assault, who didn’t even make any remarks to his attacker, as I did, but the police told him the host asked that he leave immediately. Someone from AHTN told him he was banned from the bus, and that the decision “came from the top.”
When the victim came to Redeemer Lutheran the next meal it hosted, he was told he wasn’t allowed in. When he asked why, a church representative, after the victim pressed for a reason, told him it was because he was saying bad things about the homeless.
I would have like to be a fly on the wall in the clandestine corner where the hosts, Christine and Dave from AHTN and T-Rex had a private conference. It’s strange that the victim, who never had a problem with the host, was magically banned from the meals.
This gets curiouser and curiouser, Alice. At the district court, district justice Daniel J Finello Jr. dismissed the charges of slander, etc., against Christine Jandovitz, David Jones, Redeemer Lutheran Church and the rest of the defendants whom I believe were involved in the fiasco that entailed lying and penalizing the plaintiff based on lies, but entered a default judgment against the homeless man who verbally and physically assaulted the man. Had he been at the court, he may have been that fly on the wall who would testify about the slander. The judgment was made without even letting the plaintiff present his case; it was summarily dismissed!
During the time I rode the bus, up until about two years ago, there was little drama. Riders respected on another and rules were enforced much of the time. No more. Homeless people have told me that there has been a bit of name calling, occasional racial remarks (I’ve never witness any racial problems in my three years among the homeless) and harassment of women. I believe people with brought booze with them on the bus or were already drunk.
AHTN evidently believes that if they post rules, they are followed. As the modernists believe, reality is subjective. Two occasions in the public library in Levittown, PA, where the homeless are constructively banned, come to mind. One occasion was when I went to pick up what I printed from the library computer, the sticker for the computer number I needed was missing. When I told a clerk that, she insisted “all the computers have numbers.” She finally gave up and figured out how to send my printout to the printer.
On another occasion, Pat, the head Levittown librarian, frantically complained when I was briefly, quietly talking to a homeless friend “this conversation is getting heated, you better…” When I confronted her about the double standard, where a homeless person is confronted for talking barely above a whisper for a minute but some special privileged characters bring their incessantly loud, bratty kids to the library and nothing is said to them, she said that she does do something about the loud kids in the library.
As humans, we can plan to do right, but we can’t always carry it out. This is the first step in the 12 Steps Program for addictions and compulsive behaviors. “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” -Romans 7:18
Speaking of the 12 Steps, the defendant who received a default in the civil suit also has a criminal trial coming up on that matter. And by the way, it was only because of the actions of some of the other guests that is holding the defendant accountable, not AHTN.
The plaintiff has already talked with a court officer to request that the defendant be given the opportunity for rehab for alcohol abuse, which brings out anti-social behavior, in lieu of further sentencing or a fine.
The principles in the 12 Steps program has historically been very successful. Here’s an example: