By George Capsis
It was hot, 91, and humid with the grey overcast of an approaching thunderstorm as I fretted over my aged staggering walk and experimented with some new steps that might speed me home to 69 Charles and air conditioning when I reached the Charles Street Synagogue and the human in the black felt bag. It was there and in the heat—it moved and moved again and I saw two shoe-clad feet uncover and move but what shoes they were! The tallest thickest wedges I had ever seen and taped to them were wads of what looked like latex and it emerged and stood up—it was a woman and a woman in black leather motorcycle togs from head to foot—this in 91-degree heat.
“Why do you stay here?” I began. “You have been here for a year.” Not looking at me she corrected, “four years,” and then standing she said, “You’re Capsis aren’t you—you slap policemen.” I admitted that I slap policemen and she added that I printed lies and I was a bad person and she was going report me to a transgender support organization. I became angry and stepped closer to her and between clenched teeth encouraged her to do so as she backed off with fear in her eyes.
“I’m taller than you,” she jeered and I offered, “That’s because of your wedges.” I looked at her heavy leather jacket and sneered, “You need another coat,” and then found myself saying in anger, “You’re insane!”
And there you have the problem. This woman is of course insane, and, as she says, for four years has lived in a black bag on the steps of the Charles Street Synagogue and nobody but nobody has gotten her into treatment and nobody in the city has the responsibility to get her into treatment. No politician is going to go to jail because he let mentally ill people die of cold or hunger in the streets—it is nobody’s responsibility.
Thirty years ago, we closed a lot of the big mental hospitals with the self-serving theory that the mentally ill could not be helped and they were better off with their families but who is in charge of finding this woman’s family? Nobody.
I am ashamed that I lost my temper and I will call 311 and ask for the city department that removes insane people from the streets—what do you think my chances are?
ADDENDUM: When I recounted the above to Jim Fouratt he said, “I know her, she has a wealthy family in Westchester,” and then made reference to her position in what I assume was a political debate and sneeringly dismissed her. He could not remember her name but here it is—this was a woman or, yes, a transgender who before she crept into her expensive custom-made black bag was an acceptable if perhaps extremely argumentative person.
She is one of the 60,000 homeless that lives in the streets of New York and one that “prefers” to live in the streets—they will be with us forever…