Monday, December 17, 2012

DAVID ELLIOTT - "The World is What You Make of It."

     David Elliott is twenty-four years old, and has been homeless for about seven months, this time. Actually, he’s been homeless, off and on, for about the past two and a half years.
     This last time, he became homeless after he was released from jail. When I ask him what he was in jail for, he volunteers only that he got picked up on a warrant.
     David has family in the Reno area. But he wanted to stay in the Auburn area because this is where is girlfriend lives. His girlfriend is Tammy Rodriguez, whom I interviewed next.
     When I ask David what is the hardest part about being homeless for him, he answers, "Being out here with a girlfriend, and making sure that she gets fed every night."
     "Also, keeping all of our stuff together, and not getting ripped off. This last week, we went out of town for a couple of days. When we got back, all of our stuff had been stolen. We lost two sleeping bags, and a lot of good stuff."
     "We’re not drinkers," David adds. "So, we don’t hang around with a lot of the other homeless people. We try to keep mostly to ourselves. That way, we also avoid any run-ins with the cops.
     "I try to earn money any way that I can," David says. "I do it the right way."
     If David had a magic wand, so that he could be or do absolutely anything, what would he be, or be doing?
     "I’d own my own business," David says. "I like doing tree work, so it would probably be a tree maintenance service. Or, maybe an all-around maintenance kind of business. Because I’m kind of an all-around maintenance guy."
     Does David have a message for the world?
     "I don’t know," David says. "I think that the world is fair.
     "It’s what you make of it.
     "If more people lived by that, then the world would be a better place.
     As David is talking, I am taking notes. But my ball-point pen runs dry.
     I reach into my pocket to pull out the spare pen that I always carry me when I go out to do interviews. But I feel pretty dumb when I realize that on this day, I have left my spare pen at home.
     I tell David that my first interview of the day may have to be my last, and I may not be able to complete the interview, because I have forgotten to bring a spare pen.
     A homeless woman by the name of Vicky is sitting nearby. When she hears me say this, she reaches into her backpack, pulls out a ball-point pen, and kindly hands it to me.
     I thank her, and continue the interview.
     It feels a little strange... finding myself in a position where one of the homeless people is helping me out, instead of the other way around.
     And yet, there is also something about being in that position that feels right.
     I am very grateful to Vicky for bailing me out.
     She knows it. And she feels good about it.
     After I think about it for a moment, so do I.
     I tell David about my belief that each and every person who is born into this world is born with something about him or her that makes him or her special and unique. I ask him what he believes makes him special and unique in the world.
     "My ability to help others in any way that I can," David says. "Even in this position of being homeless, when I see an opportunity to help someone else, I do it.
     "Even though I’m homeless, whenever I am able to earn a few bucks, I send half of it to my mom.
     "I have a soft heart.
     I ask David if there is anything else that he wants people to know, before we complete the interview.
    "All homeless people aren’t the same," he says. "There are those out here who are trying to do what’s right.
     "We’re not all drunks.
     "There are a lot of good people out here."

     This is the one-hundred-and-ninth in a series of articles written about Auburn-area homeless people by local attorney, author, and Sierra College Instructor Bob Litchfield.

1 comment:

  1. Robert, I like what you are doing. A wonderful project! I simply hope that your readers and others do not confuse your project with my copyrighted book (2011) titled, Until They Have Faces: Stories of Recovery, Resilience, and Redemption. Through it, a collection of authors tell the stories of homeless people in our community. You can read more about our project at

    David Page