Meeting Michael

Posted: September 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
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By: Jinna Marbry

As I work to get back into my regular routine of school, work and motherhood, I still see visions in mind that ache to pour out in words. This is one of those stories.

I will never forget the first time I saw Michael. He looked withered and scruffy. His wiry hair was long with a bright red bandana wrapped around his head to protect him from the blazing Florida sun. He smelled strongly of alcohol and cigarettes. As we stood in line patiently waiting for dinner, Michael told me it was the first time he had come to the COSAC shelter; he came because he heard the food was good. Like others, Michael’s focus was quickly distracted by the sweet smell of garlic and tomato sauce permeating the dining room. I slightly chuckled to myself when he slowly maneuvered his way ahead of me in line as if he was worried they might run out of food. I guess when you make the streets your home, there is a constantly reality that there is never enough. Worse, what there is can quickly be taken from you.

Michael boastfully told me how he was a Master Electrician but had been out of work due to the economy and drop in the construction market. He was proud of his skills, but no longer had a job to use them at and after a few months found him no longer able to pay his rent.

Just as we were edging to the front of the line, Michael spotted another homeless friend from the streets abandoning his inside voice, he bellowed a boisterous “Hello” to the gentleman. At times Michael swayed slowly from side to side, I suspect in part to the alcohol, ever the while his voice getting louder as he talked to those around him. Abruptly, Michael stopped still in his tracks, someone caught his eye.

“Who is that?” Michael pointedly asked. I replied that the gentleman he was pointing to was Sean Cononie, director and founder of the COSAC shelter. “Really!” Michael replied. “I have never met him before.” As I looked at Michael’s face I fought to hold back my own tears. Michael, this bold, loud, gruff gentleman from the streets was starting to cry. Michael quickly abandoned his cherished place in line to go shake hands and greet Sean.

As I went about my way, I waved a quick goodbye to Michael as he sat down to his awaited meal, smiling from ear to ear because he had met a hero in his world, Sean Cononie.

  1. daylinamiller says:

    Amazing, Jinna. This one made ME cry.

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