Three Friends, Four States and a Homeless Man
Part One – Introduction

Okay, so this isn’t about the trip, but about how we met the homeless man…
In the summer of 1997, My church went on a missions trip to inner city L.A. I didn’t go but several of my friends did, and they came home with a passion for the homeless. So the bunch of us spoiled suburban kids went through our closets and pulled out all the stuff we didn’t want anymore (or that we hadn’t worn in over a year but were still hanging in our closets), piled them all in the trunks of Heather’s and John’s cars, and headed up to San Francisco to hang out with the “gutter punks” (homeless kids) in Golden Gate Park at the end of Haight. I was 21 that summer, and most of the “kids” weren’t really kids at all, but young adults my age. They ranged in age from 16-24 or so, I’m not sure we ever asked most of them.
The clothes were quickly snapped up, and we had many, many requests for clean socks, of which we had none.
We made an announcement before the congregation in both services the next day, and a ton of people from the church brought us old clothes, and packages and packages of new white socks, and new underwear for both men and women, and the next saruday we headed up to the city again. We passed out socks to the gutter punks, then went down to find the homeless living at the wharf, and distribute clothes and socks there.
It was at the wharf that we met “Shim”. That was not his real name, and though he eventually told us his real name (Joe) we were not allowed to call him that. “Shim” was his street name, and that was what he wanted to be called. In subsequent weeks, we got to know Shim, often seeking him out when we went down to the wharf. He was one of those street perfomers that paints himself silver and stands very still for long periods of time. He also did firebreathing at night.
During this time, Heather was getting ready to leave for DTS in Denver. She was going to drive out there so she’d have her car at school with her, and Dan and I were going to accompany her on the drive and then fly home. We were going to make a road trip of it, and see Las Vegas, The Hoover Dam, The Grand Canyon, Four Corners, and the Focus on the Family Visitor Center, which had a 3 story corkscrew slide(!). We were all broke, so we were going to camp out each evening rather than getting hotel rooms.
The day before we left, Heather announced that Shim wanted to go to Boulder, and so he was going to come with us. I was less than thrilled, but was looking forward to our road trip too much to back out.

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Part One – Introduction

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