As some of you may know, I am currently writing for the International Business Times. On the day the snowstorm was supposed to hit, I pitched a story wondering how various cities in the United States Northeast were going to help the homeless. I got to go to the historic Bowery Mission in Manhattan, and the operations director Matt Krivich was kind enough to show me around. Beyond that, he helped with my request to talk to one of the homeless who was seeking shelter from the storm.
I got to interview Gerald Hudson, an African-American Vietnam War veteran. As much as I wished I could have written the interview as it was spoken to me, I had to quote Hudson as I would in an article; that is in the third person. Here is how the interview went as Hudson and I spoke.
Me: Are you keeping warm from this storm?
Gerald Hudson: I’m just trying my best, man.
Me: Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?
GH: Sure thing! I just want to let you know, thanks to this Mission, I have the warmest equipment around.
Me: What do you mean by “warmest equipment?”
GH: A jacket, man. This Mission gave me a jacket.
Me: Is that the one you’re wearing right now?
GH: No way. I only wear that specially when I go out. I ain’t gonna wear that in here. Do you want me to show you?
Me: Is that alright with you?
GH: Sure! Come, follow me!
(We walk to the chapel)
GH: I’m a grateful man, and I’m always grateful for what this Mission has done for me.
(We walk to the pews where Hudson has his stuff. He lifts his bag off the pews, and hidden underneath is a nice brown jacket)
Me: That’s a very nice jacket.
GH: Yeah, it keeps me warm when I go out.
Me: So how did you know to come in here for the storm? Did someone tell you?
GH: No, I’ve been here for two weeks.
Me: Oh, so you didn’t just come in for the storm?
GH: Nah, I’ve been here for two weeks. But trust me I’m trying to get a place to live. The last time before that was six months ago.
Me: I’m sorry?
GH: I don’t want to be here too much. I’ve been here for two weeks, and the last time I had to be here was six months ago.
Me: Oh, Where were you during the time you were not here. Did you have a place to stay?
GH: Yea, kind of.
Me: What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?
GH: Bad things happened, violence and stuff. I’m just trying to get a permanent place to stay, you know that? But I’m just waiting for the right time for that to happen.
Me: I’m sure that will work out for you one day.
GH: I’m a vet, you know that? Vietnam War.
Me: I’m grateful for what you’ve done for the country, as I’m sure many others are.
GH: I came back, and I had a hard time. I’m at the epitome of… of… (can’t remember what he said here)
Me: Are you a religious man?
GH: I’m a believer, I’m a believer in God, in the Father, and that he will take care of me.
Me: Well I hope things work out for you.
GH: I hope so too. Hey man you know I gotta try, but would you by any chance…? (hand gestures) But I don’t think you can right?
Me: I’m sorry, I’m not supposed to give anything. I wish you all the best.
GH: Alright you take care too, God bless.