Boxcar John

Alcoholism, dependency, addiction, depression are part of some of the personality of the homeless.  John is a 40 something year old who was going to alcoholics anonymous the day I met him.  He was cheerful, happy, social.  Tan, curly hair, well kept looking, he looked like he was doing well.  About two weeks later, he didn’t remember me, re-introduced himself, smelled of alcohol and was acting obnoxious.  A few days later, he and my camp mate came back to camp excited about catching a boxcar to travel to the west and work the oil rigs.  They were both drunk.  A few days after that, Boxcar John and my camp mate were yelling at each other in the camp, John was told to leave.  The argument continued onto the parking lot where John saw me and became courteous toward me while still agitating the other guy.  Later that night, I saw him sitting on a wall after midnight.  At some point that night, he was arrested by the county sheriffs.  This morning I saw Boxcar John.  He was filthy, self conscious about what he looked like, his hair was beginning to look like dreadlocks, had things hanging from it.  He had spiraled from someone who cared about his looks and where he was going and doing, to trying to find a hat to cover his messed up hair, self conscious of his badly fitting shoes and filthy clothes, and tearful.  He was going to be admitted to a rehab.  He had no choice, or they would have given him the Baker Act.  He was embarrassed for himself in front of the volunteers at the breakfast kitchen and among his friends.  He was sober. He had hit rock bottom. Hitting rock bottom can be the point where someone finds faith in God and Jesus.  It can be the point where someone who doesn’t have faith is forced to look at where they are and what they are going to do…..forced to choose between a rehab or a mental health involuntary commitment. Most choose rehab.  Some find Jesus depending upon the rehabilitation program.  Faith is what people find when there isn’t anything else left. Faced with involuntary mental health commitment…known at the Baker Act, being 302’d, Title 25…it depends upon the state….but there is a law in each state that allows for mental health commitment. Finding hope to pull yourself out of dependency is something you have to do yourself.  What choice do you have?  When you hit rock bottom, you don’t have any choice but to pull yourself up.  It can get you off the streets and turn your life around.  I hope Boxcar John finds himself again.  He really wanted to make a change.  It seems God made the changes for him.

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