The first thing I hear when I walk into Clifton is someone singing….badly. He is off-key, and when I turn the corner, I see him sitting at the table wearing headphones and a suit.
I’m not exactly sure what’s going on or, honestly, why he’s still here at 10:00. All our guests leave in the morning and they have to have special permission to stay in on a weekday.
More so, the suit is out of the ordinary; although we try to give all our guests clean new clothes when they arrive at the sanctuary, there’s not much call for ties in our line of work. Mr. Davis* looks nice, and I tell him so.
He’s waiting for Kerry, our case manager, he tells me. He’s obviously anxious, bouncing his leg up and down and fidgeting, with one eye on the clock. Kerry’s taking him to an interview at an in-patient drug rehab facility this morning and suddenly I understand.
Mr. Davis was sleeping outside when he came to Clifton and had been using cocaine quite recently. He was serious about making a new start at Clifton, happy to be at the sanctuary, but, let’s face it, you don’t cold turkey your way out of a cocaine habit on will power alone. And Clifton has a no-tolerance drug policy. Honestly, I was heartbroken when I understood the whole situation; no one wins here. He told us several times–within the first few hours after he arrived–how happy he was to be off the streets but it seemed likely that he wouldn’t stay long before slipping up and being removed from our program. An inpatient detox, with day programming, was what he needed, not just the bed and three meals that Clifton could give him. This is his chance. Is it any wonder he’s anxious?
His joy is contagious, but for me, it’s just another Thursday. As I go back into my office to sort mail, file forms, and answer the phone, Mr. Davis’ singing echos throughout the sanctuary.
*not his real name