The following is the fifth installment of an essay written by Jaime L. Benshoff about her experiences being homeless.
If you want to read the earlier parts, you can find them here:
- Part 1: A cup of hot water costs 27 cents, unless…
- Part 2: The men sit up front. The women sit in the back.
- Part 3: My street dad was a Vietnam Vet
- Part 4: Christmas lights do not dispel darkness. They reveal it.
Have a great week!
DISCLAIMER: This installment of Jaime’s story is especially honest.
Don’t read it in front of your children.
Part 5 of 6
By Jaime L. Benshoff
St. Lawrence Basilica is a beautiful old cathedral in downtown Asheville with daily services at 8 AM. Many homeless attend the services, welcoming the warmth and safety of the cathedral as a respite from life in a shelter or on the streets.
After service one day I was sitting on a bench on the Basilica grounds just enjoying the winter sunshine when a man sat down on the other end of the bench. I ignored him, a protective measure.
He pointed to my garbage bag and asked, “Are you homeless?”
“Yes,” I said, avoiding his eye.
“I’ll give you ten bucks for a blow job,” and he flashed the money.
It took my breath away. I took a quick look at him so I could describe what he looked like and got up, walking quickly away.
* * *
Waiting for decisions on things like disability meant long stays in a homeless shelter so keeping productive was a skill. I would sit in the chapel and journal every day before dinner. One of the disciples who was an instructor at the local vocational college asked if I am a writer. I told him I am and that I have had over one hundred articles published.
He then gave me a lead on a place that hires freelance writers to produce web content. I went the next day to the library to research the company and I made contact. I was asked to submit examples of my work, so I sent links to published articles, and I won the right to do a test assignment.
I would be paid for it, but it was just a test to see how I handled deadline pressure, editorial feedback and style guide usage. I passed and received my first payment, giving a stipend to the disciple who had steered me in their direction. I deposited the balance in my bank account, the first money I had earned in over a year.