Mitchell

A lot of people bitched about Meryl Streep’s commentary at the Golden Globes, where she tried to drive the point home about empathy.

I thought it was wonderful. But then again, I voted for humanity. Back when I believed in it.

On the night President Obama said farewell from Chicago, Mom and I stayed tuned in to the news. And first story up, we saw the mug shot of our maintenance guy at the Palm Beach Projects we left two years ago.

We knew him as Mitchell, the Americanized version of his name. Nice guy, was very handsome and had a light in his eyes when I met him in 2009.

In those early days, he was decent at his job. It was clear they didn’t pay him well, treat him right or give him the resources to do his job. But he, like me, was the only one doing the job, lack of resources notwithstanding. So we could relate on a lot of levels.

He and mom were close at first. But then we started hearing of cars being broken into, and stories of people who let him in their units when they weren’t home, and things going missing. And everyone said it was Evil Landlady 1 and him in on the con. Either way, we retreated from both because of it.

I remember a day a few years ago when he went missing for four days. Lord knows I could never get anything fixed after a while. He got into a habit of telling folks he had fixed something, and he’d never so much as knocked on the door while Mom waited beside it all day. I saw him and asked where he’d been. He said his son had gotten into some legal trouble, and he was there to bail him out.

But when I read the police reports I never looked up before this week, HE was the one picked up on a misdemeanor back then. Not his son.

And it saddened me that it was his son who turned him in this time.

It’s a nutty story. I saw his mug on TV because he was picked up for Grand Theft Auto … and then walked out of the interview room, grabbed a bicycle and disappeared. So our Mayberry PD — er, Palm Beach PD — went on a massive manhunt.

I’m not kidding. Ground search, air search, K-9s crawling Chilean Avenue. Our shitty local paper that kisses Trump’s ass with both sets of its lips put out all kinds of sensational headlines about an escaped prisoner! Wanted! For a SLEW of Felonies!

The truth as I can tell is that an old neighbor of ours was out of town. “Mitchell” is being listed as homeless in every report I have read. Which means he is no longer with his beautiful wife and boys. Which breaks my heart.

What really breaks my heart is that shitball of an apartment building not paying him enough to live anywhere. And not maybe throwing him a studio for a little while because of his loyalty.

As the story goes, an old neighbor of ours was traveling and told “Mitchell” that he could crash there till he returned. Nice guy, truly. One of my favorite neighbors. I love that he’d do that for him.

But … “Mitchell” took his new Mercedes … and never returned it.

My neighbor was like me, always with old-ass cars. That he treated himself, I was happy to hear. He deserved it.

Mom said it didn’t seem like him to call the cops on “Mitchell” since they were friends. But I would imagine going a week without your car after traveling would probably suck.

And if “Mitchell” was in fact homeless, my guess is he’d not have a phone where you could call him and get your car back.

In any event, he was seen panhandling at Hypoluxo and 95. His kid turned him in. I’m unclear on the series of events because the Palm Beach Post is a propaganda machine these days, but it sounded like he had the car parked at Popeye’s. (Worst Popeye’s ever. I love their food but Jesus, horrible area.)

Now this part of the report I can see happening. When he was picked up the second time, he offered to get the car from Popeye’s and drive it to the precinct. Mayberry PD said no. I mean, I get that because, obviously. But I wondered if “Mitchell” somehow didn’t want R. to incur the expense of getting his car out of the pound, where it was towed.

Homeless.

Please bear with me on this.

“Mitchell” and I are the same age. Less than a year apart. I was a resident of the fucking Town of Palm Beach (less than a mile south of Mar-a-Lago). 

Think about that. Pretty privileged. Yes supporting mom and drowning in debt and working my ass off. But damn lucky

I’ve always had good jobs and even when I was “destitute,” I had friends who threw me projects so I could afford to feed my mom.

This guy has nobody. And judging from the whopping bond they set, ain’t nobody going to see him for a long, long time.

Homeless.

On one of the Post’s many breathless Facebook posts about “Mitchell,” the comments ranged from, “Green card?” to “Good” and everything in between. Fucking Trump voters. Mom looked each of them up and every goddamned one of them had Twitler as a profile pic. I knew that without looking.

I commented too, that it was sad it was such a witch hunt for a guy down on his luck.

That’s the thing.

Homeless.

43.

Had a family.

Had a job.

Couldn’t afford a home.

Had nothing.

Look, I get that he did some shit lately. Got it. Heard ya. Loud and clear. We all fuck up. We all usually get second, third and eighty-fifth chances.

I have no doubt this is a guy who just was trying to get by who made a really dumb decision to screw over his friend.

I actually logged in to the system to donate to his commissary account. I haven’t funded it yet — seriously, the terms and conditions are CRAZY, not to mention the service fee.

I put the old address as my current address. I got a nasty-pop up, that if this isn’t your address we will FIND YOU because we investigate EVERYONE who wants to donate to a prisoner.

Jesus Christ.

The system is rigged. Orange Hitler got that shit right. But it’s rigged against giving anyone a leg up who isn’t a billionaire. That I can’t even throw $20 at an old friend so he can eat a fucking candy bar while he rots in jail and nobody looks for him, without signing MY privacy away? Christ, like these Mayberry PD assholes don’t pull ME over every five fucking minutes and ticket me because I’m a girl who won’t fight them.

That was something interesting. The cops PULLED HIM OVER in the Mercedes before R. reported it missing. And they let him go. Didn’t ask for a license or anything.

Was probably the same shithead who said he smelled pot coming from my car. REALLY NOW??!?

I voted against pot, asshole. Fuck you.

Anyway. Empathy.

I can’t stop thinking about this guy. That could be me. One wrong turn … one comment that has been held in too long being aimed like a missile at a target that would erupt upon impact … one fucking wrong decision and I could be him. Alone. Forgotten. If you ain’t deplorable, then you’re deportable. (Also, he’s a citizen, YOU FUCK.)

I’m including him in my prayers now. Every night I thank God for another day. I thank God for another day with my mom. I thank God for another day with my kitty. I thank God for another day with a paycheck. I thank God that there is only one thing I don’t like about my work, and I ask for the strength to not let it get me down.

And now, I pray for “Mitchell” and ask that he get his eighty-fifth chance … and that he makes something of it.

I just don’t see that light in his eyes anymore. And that may mean he’s beyond hope. So I have to have it for him. And I do.

I’ll make that donation. Nobody should be forgotten. I don’t know if it will help to know he has a friend on the outside. But it’s completely out of my own empathetic character to not try.

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