I parked my black Mustang yesterday in a parking lot across from the Capital Athletic Club. The club in downtown Sacramento is just a few blocks from the state Capitol. There are many state office buildings nearby, along with a light rail station. It’s a nice enough area during the day, but as the workers depart in the evening, homeless people emerge from the shadows. Several sleep on the sidewalk across from the club, alongside vents that I assume give off heat.
I opened my trunk and took out an athletic bag filled with racquetball gear. Then I walked through the parking lot and checked the Lexuses, Mercedes and BMWs. My six-cylinder 2014 Mustang, despite its flash and style, suffers from an inferiority complex in this lot. As I neared the sidewalk, I saw a thin woman, perhaps in her late 20s, with a handful of leaflets. An old bike loaded with bags was by her side.
My first impulse was to avoid her. I assumed she would be pitching something or looking for a handout, and I would probably be negative, brush past with a curt response and feel mildly guilty. Why bother? I could easily walk to the corner and wait for the light instead of jaywalking across Eighth Street as I regularly do.
Instead, a more polite feeling took hold, and I stopped to look at the sheet of paper the woman extended toward me. The masthead read: “The Street Post of Sacramento/ Grassroots Solutions to Homelessness.” Not having my reading glasses, I couldn’t read beyond the large type.
“Is there a charge for this?” I asked.
“There’s not charge for the paper because I think the information is important,” she said. “I do accept donations for myself.”
“Did you write this?”
“I did. I have a theory about addiction.”
The woman was polite and well-spoken. Her clothes were a bit frayed. I took out my wallet and gave her a dollar.
“Will reading this make me a better person?”
She smiled and nodded.
I crossed the street and went into my upscale athletic club. I lifted weights and played two games of racquetball. Then I returned to my nice middle-class Land Park home and had dinner. As I was sipping my coffee, I perused the single-sheet Street Post, which had short items on both sides.
The “Post’s Purpose” was stated this way:
I’ve seen firsthand how many devastating social problems could be better corrected. I welcome you to help build grassroots momentum for more progressive solutions. Constructive debate is welcome. Psychologically abusive comments are not. – Writer/editor Irene Cardenas.
In other articles, the writer contends counseling approaches to treating addictions, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, are woefully inadequate and suggests the drug-medical industry that funds politicians “profits when people stay addicted for life.” The solution, she says, is something called Brain State Technologies, a treatment program that emphasizes getting brain activity balanced and synchronized. It’s successful in 90 percent of the cases, Cardenas says, who insists “I’m not paid to plug it!”
Well, far be it from me to utter any psychologically abusive comments about the program. I’m impressed that Cardenas is enough of a believer to labor on a newsletter and pedal her bicycle to a place where she can get the word out to folks addicted to exercise and expensive cars.