Sunday, May 27, 2007

On Progress From A Flat Tire: By Peter S. Lopez {aka Peta }

I woke up early on sunny Sabbath morning on May 26, 2007. I got up, did my morning prayer and got ready. I had to clock into work at the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter on 1200 North ‘B’ Street @8 AM in order to help conduct the workshops for the day all that morning.

First we have the General Assembly for all shelter residents to discuss shelter matters, then a Life Skills Workshop followed by a Housing Workshop for newcomers before we break for lunch around noon.

My friend Barbara G. gave me a ride to work from the Seavey Circle area by 5th & Broadway. We took Highway 5 to get off at Richards Boulevard. Right before we were going to exit the freeway onto Richards Boulevard we heard a funny sound from the bottom of the car and soon realized we had a flat tire. So we pulled off the freeway exit, hobbled into the parking lot of a McDonald’s hamburger joint, then stopped and checked out the car. Sure enough, we had a flat tire on the front left wheel.

Not losing her bright spirit, Barbara said, “I’ll just call my son Tony to help me fix it. I’m sorry but you’re gonna’ have to foot it the rest of the way.”

I asked her in concern, “Are you going to be alright?”

She said, “Sure! I’ll call my Son Tony and he’ll come help me.”

It was almost 8 AM. I knew Barbara was going to be OK. She had her cell phone, had called her son, people were around and so without further delay I began to hoof it to the shelter.

So I started walking towards North ‘B’ Street. As soon as I went around the curve I walked by a demon-possessed Black crackhead spouting off after he saw me about hating ‘goddamn’ Mohicans and other madness. Seeing me with all my long hair, middle goatee, Native Pride cap and all probably surprised him. I just ignored his ignorance, briefly prayed for his deliverance and kept walking. Why argue with dope-crazed insanity?

I called into work on my cell-phone to let them know that I was going to be a little late but on my way. At the time, there was no one at work to come pick me up. I just told John-Paul, our Front Desk Monitor for the day, that I was on my way. I gave him my general location as walking by the Union Gospel Mission in case someone popped up with a vehicle.
I flashed back to over ten years before when my Cousin Mark and I ended up at the Mission after a brief crank and booze spun run. To me back then it seemed like a real Christian Nazi camp ran by thugs. You had to attend the evening Church services before a skimpy meal for dinner, then you had to turn in your street clothes and personal possessions which were put in an individual locker kept by them. Then all of us were given a towel, had to take a shower, dry up, return the towel and with only our briefs on, next they gave you a pair of old pajamas before you had to hit your assigned bunk and lights out.

In the morning we were awoken early, got a little breakfast, then we were thrown out for the rest of the day. Cousin Mark and I eventually ended up at Sally’s, waged more struggles and eventually got into sober recovery and all, but that’s another story. Now him and I share a great two-bedroom house up the street that is a sanctuary for us.

Nonetheless, back then, it was our decision to go there to the Mission as we could of camped outside by the river or imposed on a foul fiend. In general, it had been our own life decisions that had gotten us into our homeless predicament. No one else. Far me it from me to complain about a bunk for a place to crash and light meals, especially when I am coming down off a crank spin and exhausted at the time!

So here I was still in the same vicinity years later. I took a few pictures with my HP Digital Camera and walked on. There were the usual street folks sitting outside on the sidewalk just hanging around. At least by the Mission the street homeless have a place where they can just ‘be’ without getting a ticket by the local police for violating an anti-camping ordinance.

To my sweet surprise, while I was walking in front of the Mission looking around, Brother Langston, a key volunteer helper at Sally’s, drove up in his cool white car to pick me up. As usual on Saturdays he had gone to help out at the shelter. Hearing about my walking into work he had come to pick me up. So I was glad I would not be too late for work. I got in the car, cool music playing. Brother Langston did a U-Turn and we passed in front of Volunteers of America/Aid-In-Kind Shelter on Bannon Street right next to the Mission.


I flashed back again to several years before when I was in the VOA-AIK Shelter waiting to go into Mather Community Campus (MCC). I had felt extremely fortunate when I got a top bunk right next to the dorm window from which I could see the unfortunate desperados at the Mission. In the evenings, when I was at the VOA shelter, I use to sit nearby on the green grass, spend time in deep prayer and meditation, do a few Yoga exercises, and just be reading spiritual recovery literature and wondering about what would become of me in my life journey.

Brother Langston and I turned the corner on Bannon Street and we headed east towards Sally’s along the long sinister stretch of the road that I had walked so many times before, including when I use to work the Night Shift at Detox or the Comprehensive Alcoholism and Treatment Center (CATC) on Richards Boulevard. Public inebriates as taken to Detox after being picked up by the Sac PD paddy wagon or by other law enforcement personnel.


Many evil dark happenings have occurred on that part of North ‘A’ Street between the two shelters as lost souls wrestled with Satan’s demons going to-and-fro. Homeless people have been killed, women have been raped and lives have gotten twisted way out of shape around there.

I truly felt blessed as we drove up that road. I was one of the witnesses to the miracles that can happen once people who are decent at heart but have gotten jacked up by the demonic dope fiend culture have made a decision to change their lives around. We have gotten into progressive recovery from the insane culture of chemical dependency. We have learned our lessons from the depressed darkness of the past, have made something good of our lives and have embarked on positive pathways towards the bright light of life just up ahead in the future.

Indeed, the Lord works in mysterious ways and I know the Devil works in devious ways. The moral of this story is that when my friend had a flat tire and I had to walk to work that morning certain events brought back some meaningful memories I should not forget. I remembered what I had once been a member of back then when I had lost all but a faint spark of hope,

Those of us ‘special ones’ who have lived through the dark existence in the dungeons of the dope fiend world need to take the time from time to time to analyze, contemplate and appreciate our continued progress in life as recovering drug addicts. We should not dwell in despair about how far we still want to go to get ahead in life, not moan and groan about the burdens of life today, but instead we need to count our blessings bestowed upon us by God’s amazing grace, not count our curses ~ many of which we brought on by ourselves with our own misdeeds, dumb decisions and character defects. We need to daily take a inventory at how much positive progress we have already made in our recovery with the certainty that in the future we will make even more productive progress as life goes on. Sometimes there is progress in a flat tire so we can stop and see where we are at in our lives.

To paraphrase Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, an early educator and humane rights activist:
“Judge me not from the heights to which I have risen, but if you are so inclined to judge, judge me from the depths from which I have climbed.”
Key Links:
CASA 12-Steps Yahoo Group=
CASA 12-Steps Program Blog=
TSA Center of Hope Shelter Blog=



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