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Homeless Winslow



A while back I found a sign left at my bus stop. No doubt, it’s a “sign” of our times.


Then there’s Winslow*—that’s the name I’ve given her because she’s always in downtown Winslow. As far as I know, she’s been homeless for a few years.



She has grocery carts filled with old toys, shoes, clothes, towels, games, and a wild assortment of cast-off stuff she must have collected from the town’s dumpsters. I’m not sure what she does with it all—if anything. But I’ve never seen her beg.


Her nightly “home” is adjacent to the town’s post office—it’s a covered spot, so she parks her carts and pulls blankets over herself. That’s usually where I see her on cold, rainy nights.



But this week, she was in the post office—the part that’s left open to the public all night. She had a toaster oven plugged in and was re-heating a foil-wrapped item that looked like something the grocery store might have given her.


I needed to mail a package, so I went to the self-serve machine and began pushing the buttons.


Winslow began talking. “The horses took the lead and then it was lost.”


I glanced over my shoulder, to see if she was directing her conversation at me. She wasn’t. But this was the beginning of a soliloquy that made zero sense. I pushed buttons faster, but the machine was dreadfully slow.


Winslow was getting more vocal, and more nonsensical. Then her toaster oven chimed, and she seemed to come back to reality.


She retrieved her meal just as I was finishing.


“Do you have a warm place to sleep tonight?” I asked. I told her the bus would take her to a free shelter.


She replied, “Oh, I had a place to live.” Then she gave me a random address and a couple’s name who’d been hateful to her. Maybe it was true.


The town seems allow her to be here. A few times I’ve spotted care packages on a nearby bench. But there’s no change in Winslow. Same carts, same situation.


Winslow’s homelessness won’t be solved with just a place to stay. She needs a place for her mind to heal too. Homelessness is hard—especially for those needing more than a home.



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