Hello all. This is Jeff Seemann. Yes, the real Jeff posting under his own screenname. Jenn, Michelle and January have all been alerted.
I'm all finished, as of 6pm Wednesday night. 72 hours into it, I had to go home. Didn't want to, but had to. I was approached by a police cruiser and was told that I had to go home or be arrested for vagrancy (originally, the charge was loitering, but the officer misspoke and clarified it during our conversation).
The officer was very nice, and told me that I had to find shelter or I was going to jail right away. I had checked with a shelter earlier in the day, and they did not have any open space for the night. Yes, there were other options, but I wouldn't know if I could get in until about 10pm. I explained this to the officer, and he told me that I would have to go to jail if I didn't already have a place to sleep inside. I believe the police were doing a sweep of the streets. They were not being aggressive, I think they were just getting everybody inside. It's getting very bad out here tonight, LOTS of snow on the ground, and temperatures dropping fast.
After a short discussion with the officer, my options were laid out in front of me. Jail or a shelter. So I told him what I was really doing out there. He didn't believe me. When I finally convinced him of my objective, he looked at me like I was a few bricks shy of a load. Then he offered me a ride home. I was only a few blocks from a friend's house, so I retreated there instead.
He asked me not to return to the streets tonight, or the choice between jail and a shelter would no longer be up to me. I'll oblige happily. Yes, I did this for many reasons, but having a criminal record is not something I'm willing to get on my way to another election day.
I'm going to spend some time tonight writing my final summary and I will publish it on Friday.
However, I'm not done with my homelessness experience. Tomorrow, I will go to a shelter at Noon for their Thanksgiving dinner. But I'm NOT going as a politician in a suit or anything of the sorts. I'm headed down, anonymously, to share dinner with people whom I shared the streets and the shelters with. No attention, no stunts, no spotlight. I can't quite sum up how I feel about my experiences at this time, so I'll just say that there's a new-found enlightenment and a concern for the homeless in my town (and everywhere else, for that matter).
When I'm done with my dinner at the shelter, I'll head home, shower and shave, and go spend Thanksgiving with my family and January's family.
One last request. Enjoy yourselves on Thanksgiving, and make a promise to me. Pack up that extra turkey and stuffing, put it in the fridge and save it. On Friday, most of the glamour of helping the homeless on Thanksgiving Day will have worn off. Take your leftovers out of the fridge on Friday or Saturday and go deliver them to somebody who is on the streets. It'll take an hour or two of your day, and you'll never ever forget the feeling you get from it.
Stay warm, stay safe, and never take what you have for granted.