|JASON FITZGERALD - Homeless, Car-less, Dog-less, and the victim of an unskilled photographer.|
A MAN WITHOUT HIS DOG
Jason Fitzgerald is twenty-three years old. He has been homeless for about a year.
"I was living with my parents," Jason says. "But things got a little too crowded. So, my mom asked me to leave. There were seven of us living in a single-wide mobile home. So, it was pretty crowded."But while I was growing up, there were seven of us living in a twenty-nine-foot fifth-wheel trailer. So, I was used to being crowded.
"We all got along pretty good."
I ask Jason what’s the hardest part about being homeless for him.
"Giving up my dog," he answers.
"I had my dog for about seven years. But he was just too old to live out here. So, I gave him to my mom. He’s living at my mom’s house now.
"I had my dog out here with me for the first four months. I still had a car at that time, and my dog slept mostly in my car.
"But then, the motor blew up. After that, I was on foot."
This is a pattern that I have seen with a lot of homeless people. First, they lose their job. Then, they lose their home. After that, at least they still have their car to sleep in, for a while.
But when their car breaks down, they cannot afford to pay for the repairs.
So then, they end up at the final and worst stage of being homeless, which is being on foot.
It seems to me that if we really wanted to help the poor and the homeless, we might set up some kind of program in which local volunteers... like maybe the auto mechanic shop at a local high school or college, made free or low-cost auto repairs for the needy.
I know of at least one Auburn auto repair shop where the mechanics already do free or low-cost auto repairs for needy people. They even restore, and then give away an old car to a needy person, from time to time.
But what they do is not a part of an organized program. It’s a thing that they can only afford to do from time to time, out of the goodness of their hearts.
Without some kind of organized program, no single auto repair shop could meet all of the needs of Auburn’s poor, while California’s economy is more broken than a car with a blown engine.
If Jason had a magic wand, so that he could be or do absolutely anything, what would he be, or do?
"I’d make people treat everybody the way that I’d want to be treated... and not steal from everybody."
I ask Jason if he has a message for the world.
"Life can be great, if you don’t weaken. Don’t let the bad things in your life get you down."
I ask Jason what he believes makes him special and unique in the world.
"I’m a problem solver. I can figure out a solution to just about anything... at the drop of a hat."
I ask Jason if there is anything else that he would like people to know.
"Don’t judge me if you don’t know me," Jason says. "There are two sides to every story."
This is the one-hundred-and-eleventh in a series of articles about Auburn-area homeless people, written by local attorney, author, and Sierra College Instructor Bob Litchfield.