Urban Plunge

Reflections by Luke Perry (lwperry@unity.ncsu.edu)

The Urban Plunge is a 48-hour experience to help others begin to gain an understanding of what it is like to be homeless. My friend, Michael Stoops, who works for National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) helped set it up. I went with a close friend of mine from N.C. State, and met up with two girls from Wayne State University in Detroit who doing it the same weekend. We did not shower for a few days prior to the event, and rubbed ashes, dirt, and coffee grounds on ourselves to help develop an appearance that would help us pass as homeless. Some of you might be thinking this sounds like we were making a mockery of the homeless, but, for me, it was justified by the fact that we were doing it to learn more about the situation that we may be better able to serve the homeless.

Our story was that I had come with Elaina to Washington, D.C. to look for her father, who is a banker. She had been living with her grandparents in Colorado, but their health was deteriorating rapidly and she felt like she was in the way of everything. I had partied a little too hard in college my first semester, acted irresponsibly gotten kicked out. I decided I did not want the financial support of my parents, who also decided they did not want to support me. So, I was staying with a friend in Asheville when I met Elaina, and we soon became an item. I had been staying at my friend's house for a little too long, so it was time for me to head on as well. We had both spent all our money on a bus ticket to Washington and did really have anywhere to go.

When people ask me how it was, I have not really known how to respond. It was a weekend with many mixed feelings and experiences. It both challenged and enforced everything I had come to believe about homeless. But, just the fact that it has forced me to rethink a lot of things makes it in itself, a tremendously rewarding experience.

I was very surprised by the over-abundance of food. While I was hungry the first afternoon, I was never hungry the rest of the weekend. Heck, I ate twice as much there as I would in the days trying to finish up a project. We found food without even looking. We would go to churches and kitchens, groups would come to parks, and people would drop off food where we were sleeping. One of the guys we were staying with said you had to be stupid to starve in D.C. Odds are, if someone is panhandling in D.C., the money is not be used for food. This excess of food may be some reason while many homeless people are often so picky when you might try to buy them something to eat.

Elaina had spent last semester studying abroad in Costa Rica, and was having an especially difficult time accepting the fact that there was so much food available. She was disturbed by the fact that the poorest people in the U.S. were still getting fed better than a lot of the middle class in Costa Rica. I realized she was so right, and as I began to think of the conditions that I have seen firsthand in places like Bolivia and Bangladesh realize that most of the homeless in the U.S. have it pretty well compared to the rest of the world. On another level, we witnessed the overabundance of everything in our society (yes, yes, I know, apparently there is not an overabundance of affordable housing, because if there was, all these people wouldn't be on the streets.) Quick fact for all you guys to think about: Over a quarter of all food produced in the U.S. is wasted (96 billion pounds a year). I even saw it being wasted on the street level. Heck, I couldn't even eat everything I had.

The second thing that was kind of difficult for me to accept was that I actually began to see how some people might enjoy that lifestyle- to an extent. Before Sunday night, parts of it felt like a vacation. It was such a nice change from school to not really have a set schedule, and just wander around, thinking about how good that soup was going to taste for dinner (not because I was hungry, but because it was damn good). Granted, we were only there two days and I am sure it would drag someone down after weeks, but I began to really see that some people were really out there because they wanted to be.

I was very interested to see some sort of hierarchy and mini-governments on the streets. The guy we stayed with the first night is well-known throughout D.C. and has been nominated “Mayor” of the streets. He controlled who slept in his area and paid off the guard of the building to let him stay in the front on the sidewalk. He told us tons of stories about everything he had done on behalf of the homeless (and Michael reinforced them). Charlie was a serious alcoholic, and I soon began to see how he might actually enjoy this lifestyle. While it is very difficult at times, he is in a status of power and responsibility, and people within the homeless subculture respect him. If he got back on his feet, and moved off the streets, he would probably become an instant nobody, and I think he is scared of that.

Even though these things challenged what I have to believe about homelesssness (this is random, but homelessness is not Microsoft Word's dictionary), I still cannot understand how anyone could stand living on the streets during a brutal winter. After absolutely freezing Sunday night, no abundance of food, sense of power, or sense of freedom could make me want to stay in those conditions for long. It was comforting to know that a lot of the “emergency” work our group does such as providing blankets, hot food, and conversation is really important. People have to survive the streets, and it is not our right to judge how they ended up there, because we probably really don't know. Regardless, they need help. So, while I am going to question much more who is on the streets and why they are there, I will not let that keep me from helping them out.

I have come to realize that I have been over-romananticizing the situation. I wanted to tell everyone how bad the homeless were getting screwed, and how little control they had over their situation. I always thought that most of the people were on the street because of something that was not their fault or out of their control. Well, I knew otherwise, but did not really want to accept it. I think a large part of that is because I have devoted so much time, energy, and sacrifice into working with these people that it would be difficult to say that a lot of my time was not really worthwhile. While I still believe that most of my work has been very worthwhile, the weekend has left me with a lot more questions than answers. Regardless, I now feel like there are many more people out there who could get off the streets, but for some reason or another don't want it bad enough.

In many ways, this was not a very real situation for Elaina and I. I spent the weekend with one of my best friends wandering around the nation's capital. I really think that one aspect we missed out on is loneliness, and the emoional hardships it brings. When a lot of people become homeless, they have hit rock bottom, and have no where to turn. Elaina was with me the entire time, and we were in contact with people we could trust and give us information. I couldn't even begin to imagine what it would be like with a feeling of having no one to turn to- heck, I might even start drinking. If we were on the streets longer (at least a week), I think things would become much more difficult, as we became physically and psychologically weakened. Also, we would probably be able to get a better idea of what the system is like, and why it may be so difficult for many people to get a job or why so many people don't use shelters (we heard reasons such as violence, drugs, and lack or rights. Elaina and I were going to one, but we would be split up, and Charlie advised us against it because it would be dangerous a young white Caucasian such as myself.) I am also wondering if these types of services are available everywhere, or is it just excessive because it is our nation's capital and people feel even more compelled to help there. ( I was very shocked to see the number of homeless on the streets, day and night.) As a result, it is hard to really make assumptions or conclusions without saying, “but…”. Therefore, I won't know for sure until I become homeless someday not on purpose (which is quite possible, but, at least I will have some street smarts if I do). Even then, my opinion and experiences would probably be different from many others.

I have come to realize that I have been over-romananticizing the situation. I wanted to tell everyone how bad the homeless were getting screwed, and how little control they had over their situation. I always thought that most of the people were on the street because of something that was not their fault or out of their control. Well, I knew otherwise, but did not really want to accept it. I think a large part of that is because I have devoted so much time, energy, and sacrifice into working with these people that it would be difficult to say that a lot of my time was not really worthwhile. While I still believe that most of my work has been very worthwhile, the weekend has left me with a lot more questions than answers. Regardless, I now feel like there are many more people out there who could get off the streets, but for some reason or another don't want it bad enough.

So, what am I really trying to say out of all of this? Well, I am still not really sure, and it is going to take a long time to figure out really where I am headed in dealing with homelessness. While I still realize the great concern for those who really need help, there are many out there who are taking advantage of the system. (I guess I knew that already, as a lot of you probably did, but I am now fully convinced of it, and disturbed by it.) But in the whole scheme of things, is it more important to focus my energies on those at home, (who, at times, don't seem to be that bad off) or abroad where the need is astounding? I guess it seems to me like the homeless have more control of their situation than I realized. Granted the government and public are not doing enough to help the situation, everyone is not totally getting screwed over. But, I think it is a very different case in third world countries where a combination of colonialization (by countries like the U.S.) corruption, and revolving debt are totally victimizing billions of people to where there is very little they can do about it. They have relatively no control.

And so where do I fit in all of this? I guess only time will tell. I have a lot of thoughts to ponder and a lot of people to help.


1 PM. After getting a briefing from Michael Stoops at the National Coalition for the Homeless office, we proceeded to go and meet Charlie, who was going to be our “guide” for the first night (I first met Michael at the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness' annual conference three years ago. Since then, his work has continued to be an inspiration for me.) When Michael told us that Charlie was an alcoholic and stayed drunk all the time, I was kind of shocked that we would be putting our life into his hands (those thoughts soon quickly disappeared). I thought we were going to meet Charlie on a street corner somewhere, but we actually went to where he “lives”- a recessed foyer of a bank. I guess it could be considered part of the sidewalk. But, I was actually quite shocked to see 3 different people sleeping under their blankets-at 1 PM in the afternoon. I would soon find out why no one ever sleeps with his or her head outside of the blankets. So, after Michael called out his name a few times, Charlie, slowly emerged from the blankets, and the first thing I noticed was how red his eyes were, and thinking, man, we have to depend on this guy? So, Michael left us on our own as we sat there and began to chitchat with Charlie for a little while. We had not been there more than 20 minutes when he told the other two girls to go down to the street corner and not come back until they had made $2 panhandling.

So, Elaina and I soon decided to take a stab at panhandling, and what I already knew was pretty much enforced. She made quite a bit more money than I did ($8 - $1.50). In fact, no really acknowledged me sitting there on the sidewalk with a sign that said “Cold, Hungry, Can you spare a smile?” It was actually very difficult for me to do because I felt like I was taking advantage of people. (At times, this would bother me all weekend, but was always justified by the fact that I was there to learn more about the people and the problem, so that others, and I could better address the issues.) But no one really gave me the opportunity to take advantage of them. During this time, Elaina, attempted to use the bathroom in a very fancy hotel called the Madison. They told her there was not a bathroom available, but that she could probably use it in a hotel around the corner. They did let her use it, but made her leave her blankets and belongings outside (this one way how a lot of homeless people's items are stolen, because they either have to hide it somewhere or carry it around with them.) While I was sitting there next to Elaina, huddled up in our blankets, asking for money, I noticed a car with some kids in the back seat parked on the curb right across from us. One of them, who couldn't have been older than 7, was staring directly at us, apparently unsure of what to make of the situation. His mom soon walked out of the building with his younger brother, and dropped some change in my cup and smiled at us, and then her son in the car. We thanked her graciously and I looked back at the kid in the back seat, who was now grinning from ear to ear. As the car pulled away, I gave the kid a thumbs up, for his mom had treated us like humans, and it was very apparent he was relieved that she made the right decision.

3:30 PM. Elaina and I had started to get pretty cold, and decided we wanted to walk around some, and experience a few things on our own. So, we wandered down to the Whitehouse, and tried to do a little panhandling down there, but people were much less responsive, and plain bitter. We were also very hungry at this time, and knew it would be a while before we would actually eat, so we wandered into a coffee shop and bought some tea with some of the money we panhandled. At that time, we were a bit unsure about how we were going to eat that night, and I was somewhat worried about it, because my stomach usually has its way with me. So, we sat in there for a while, mainly because it was warm because we had become really cold. We took advantage of the restrooms in the place, changing into our thermal underwear that would be the savior of our next couple of nights. We left and found our way back to Charlie's camp where he was back under his blankets sleeping.

6:15 PM. Charlie had told us that there was a van that came by and gave out dinner at a square a few blocks away, so we went down there, hoping to get some food, a little anxious about what we were to encounter (Charlie had said a lot of them would be cracking on us, talking a bunch of trash, and generally trying to “break us down”. This was mainly because young white homeless people are very rare. He especially stressed to Elaina and the others that they would probably be propositioned, and harassed, at the very least. ) At his suggestion, we got in line, filled our bag with the sandwiches (pb and j, baloney), donuts, and hot soup (I think that was the best soup I had in my life, or it just tasted like it at that moment). We were not harassed too bad, mainly a lot of looks, but we did not wait around to see if Charlie would be right. So, we went back to Charlie's area and ate our dinner. We spent the rest of the evening talking and listening to Charlie. We had been outside pretty long at that point and honestly just felt like getting under the blankets because it was probably already in the 30's.

Throughout the rest of the evening, a lot of people came by and either stopped to chat or set up their blankets to mark their spot where they would be sleeping that night. A total of about 10 people slept there that night, one of which was a gruff old 65-year old named Chris. I can't remember how long he had lived on the streets, but he had seen it all. At one point, he disappeared into the alley and returned with 6 blankets, 3 of which he let us use that night. I was just very fascinated how he had 6 blankets stashed somewhere in that alley. At around 11 PM, a man came by and dropped off a bunch of food from a hotel down the street. It was full of delicious hot chili-dogs, barbecue chicken, and pastries. It was specifically dropped off for Charlie, and apparently happens every night.

One of the girls we were with unfortunately threw up throughout the night. We were staying right across from an alley, so every time she felt the urge, she would head over there, while, of course, one of us kept an eye out on her. I felt really bad for her, and was thinking about how “real” her experience was. Charlie continued to drink vodka, but continued telling stories as well, often performing his “hypothermia check” by squeezing our toes. It soon became very clear that Charlie was the headman on the streets in that area. He said he had been nominated Mayor of the streets. He controlled who slept there, and because of a spinal injury, walked around with a cane. This was also his protection from any thieves, or others who might try to take advantage of him. He seemed to be proud that he had his hand in everything that happened around there, from the drug pushers to the prostitutes. He used the bar across the street at his address, where the owner had placed a TV in the window and hooked up a little speaker on the outside, so that Charlie and his friends would continually have music.

During most of this time, one of the guys staying there named Tommy, who was incredibly drunk, kept saying Charlie was full of crap, and of course Charlie would retort telling Tommy that he was full of crap. (Tommy was actually very vocal in telling us that we were insulting them by thinking we could experience homelessness in a day or two. We knew that was not the case, but a lot of people seemed to just misunderstand our intentions. He said later that night that he would not wish homelessness on even his worst enemy). So, a large part of the evening actually consisted of Tommy rambling and yelling out indecipherable phrases and telling Charlie to be quiet, often laying down on Charlie's blankets. Of course, Charlie would defend himself, very vocally, and even a few times physically. While I never felt unsafe, I was struck by the environment that alcohol would often induce. Charlie did stay drunk the entire time, but was very impressed by his compassion towards us, and the control he exercised. I have very mixed feelings about him because he has had his opportunities to get off the streets. He was going through detox, and was close to finishing the program, and decided he just needed to get back on the streets for a day. Of course, he started drinking and blew his whole chance. But, at the same, he is an incredibly person with a great heart and mind. In fact, even though he is an amazing alcoholic, I have so much more respect and compassion for him, than many other people I know who are well established in society.

So, I finally fell asleep around midnight, underneath 3 blankets, on top of one, two layers of cardboard, and huddled next to Elaina. I can't say that I slept incredibly well, but it was a dream sleep compared to the next night.


7 AM. We awoke to someone bringing us hot coffee and a bag consisting of a sandwich, an orange, a hard boiled egg, and a little note saying that they hoped we have a good day and that we were in their thoughts. It was a pretty good way to start the day. After slowly getting moving, the four of us, Tommy, and Chris all headed down to New York Presbyterian Church to get some more food, warm up, and partake in some good old church singing. Along the way, Tommy said something that really struck a chord with me. He said,” I can be in the worst mood, or just be having the worst day, and then somebody will come by and do even the simplest thing, like saying 'Hello, I hope you have nice day' will change everything and make the rest of my day wonderful.” I think there is a lot of power in that statement, because we all long to be treated as the human beings we are, and often those on the street or those asking for money are viewed by society as something actually lesser. I have always told people that you don't have to give panhandlers money, just talk to them, and acknowledge their presence and humanity.

9:30AM. We made it to New York Presbyterian Church and gathered in the fellowship hall with many other homeless and members of the church. We got in line and grabbed a bagel and juice, sat down and soon engaged in some hymn singing. While we were sitting there, a woman came up to Elaina and me, looking very concerned and asked us if everything was okay (I guess she was kind of shocked to see such young people looking for help). We actually got into a pretty in depth conversation with her about how we could find Elaina's father what services were available, and how Elaina was way too young to be out on the streets. The lady was really nice, and gave us a little pocket guide of information. When she asked us to sit with her in church, we decided we had better move on (because we were already feeling pretty guilty).

We wandered off to find another church and ended up at St. John's Episcopal Church, which is right across from the Whitehouse. They made us leave our stuff (blankets and duffel bag) in the back. So, we went in and wandered up pretty close to the front. I took off my toboggan and let my flaming and unwashed hair of 4 days express itself. I was amused to read that every president had attended church services there, and they even had a special pew reserved for them. Little did I know, we were actually sitting in the "President's Pew" because as we left, there was a gold little plate on the back of our pew denoting this. I guess that is why there was space for two people in that pew. However, as we left, not a single person even said hello, and outside, we stopped to shake the preacher's hand, and she looked at Elaina and then her blankets, and said, “Oh, what have we here?” It actually seemed like she was mocking her, in a way that she was trying to acknowledge that she might be face to face with a homeless person, but failing miserably in trying to offer any compassion or sincerity.

We had about 45 minutes to burn before we were going back to NCH office to have a progress check with Michael. So, we decided to hang out in Lafayette Park (right in front of the Whitehouse) and eat our lunch (which was left over sandwiches from the day before). As we finished and were leaving, a friendly soul pointed us to the corner of the park and said they were feeding up there. We decided we would take the opportunity and pick up some more food. We found out the group was from Walt Whitman High School and came out on a weekly basis. They had an incredible array from pasta to salad to brownies to soup. While we were sitting there eating, a young girl came over and offered Elaina pair of white jeans. We accepted them, remembering how disappointed we are when people we are trying to help don't want it. (Everything we did collect went directly to NCH). The students seemed to be especially warm to us, probably due to the shock that people so young could actually be on the streets. (Even though we were not actually homeless, there are thousands of young people just like us living on the streets everyday. So, I could hardly eat all the food they gave me, and I even had to turn down a number of sides. Elaina commented on how she was eating more than she would normally, and was amazed at how much I could put in my stomach. I was just making sure to take advantage of food while I had it, because I wasn't 100% sure when my next meal would be coming.

2 PM. After meeting with Michael, Elaina and I decided to head down to the mall and around the monument, not only to see the sights, but also to see how people would respond to us there. After asking numerous people for change as we walked, we became very tired of the blank faces, the hurried walk, and the people striking up conversation with whoever was beside them, just as we walked by. We soon just started to say hello to people or ask them the time, and unfortunately, the reactions were largely the same. People would completely ignore us when all we said was hello.

As a result of all the action, excitement, and walking, we decided to chill out for a little bit, so we set up a little picnic on the mall below the monument. Elaina was getting tired, so she decided to take a nap. The wind was starting to kick up and bring a chill in the air, so she wrapped up in a blanket while I spent some time and jotted some thoughts. A number of people just utterly stared, but most kept walking, making it a point to ignore the blanket covered mass, even though they knew it was there. It seemed as if a lot of people made an extra effort to ignore us. I was getting antsy and really wanted to go and apply for work somewhere or see if they had any leftover food we could have. By this time, we were really cold, and were just looking for somewhere to warm up as well. While we were walking, we passed a large steam vent with a lot of homeless people on it. The guy we stayed with the second night later told us that steam vents are very dangerous because they usually put out a lot of moisture. This can become really dangerous when it is really cold and whoever is sleeping on it may roll off it (if they are passed out or something) and then could freeze to death because they are damp from the steam.

4 PM. We soon saw a Wendy's down the street and decided to give it a shot. We sat down in the back of the restaurant for a little while and decided what our game plan would be. I finally went up and told the cashier that we had spent all our money on a bus ticket and did not have food. I asked if they might have any leftover food available. She, of course, had to go and get the manager. I told him what I had told her, and he shook his head very cold-heartedly, obviously in a hurry to move onto bigger and better things. I then told him that I wanted to apply for work. He handed me an application and said that I would have to come back later when another manager is around. I then asked him if I had to have an address to get a job there. He said yes and turned around and walked away. So, I was kind of annoyed with this manager, so knowing they were still watching, I grabbed as much sugar, salt, napkins, and forks as I could. Elaina and I stayed in the restaurant, talking for a bit. As we were leaving, there was another woman who was walking away, but appeared to be panhandling. So, we walked down the street and noticed some cops getting out of their car, walking down the sidewalk. We decided to stop and watched them walk into the Wendy's. Figuring the manager was afraid he was going to get harassed some more by us, he must have called the police. Needless to say, we hurriedly walked away.

Our guide for the second night was a very well educated African American who was about to put a deposit for an apartment. He had been working for the NCH for about a month. He was a Republican with a very defined view on homelessness, committed to dealing with the real reason while people are homeless: affordable housing. He pretty much went as far to say that all the emergency services (i.e. shelters, soup kitchens, treatment centers) were not helping solve the problem, but were actually encouraging it. I was very interested to hear him say that these types of services would never disappeared because the problem had been institutionalized had created a whole industry of jobs that would never go away. I agreed with him largely because most of the funding from the federal government's McKinney Act is for services that deal with only temporary relief so that the homeless may survive the streets, and not does not look at dealing with longer term solutions. However, I had already experienced the importance of the emergency services, because they really help you get through each day.

6 PM. That night we were sleeping at his camp, the Bank of America building a block away from the Whitehouse. He said it would be a very sobering experience because he did not allow anyone who slept there to be drunk. Once again, I found it fascinating the leadership and mini-governments that occur on the streets. It was also very safe because it was well lit, and secret service agents were right across the street. The only real problem was that there were pigeons roosting on the columns that we were sleeping between, and we had to build a little covering for our heads so that we would be targeted during the night. I was pretty impressed with the cardboard structure we built and actually provided a nice little shelter from the wind around our heads.

After going to the park to get some more food and collecting our cardboard, it was already quite chilly. We were pretty tired, so we sort of sat there a while watching people stare at us out their car windows. We finally hunkered down to try to get some sleep around 10 or 11, but the wind was already kicking up incredibly. Underneath us were two layers of cardboard and a blanket, and we had three blankets on top of us. Underneath that, I think Elaina and I both had at least 4 layers. And, it really did not do much. I think that may have been the longest night on my life. While Elaina and I desperately tried to keep each other warm, the wind kept howling and the temperature kept dropping. I lost feeling in my toes probably around 2 or 3 in the morning and by the time the sun came up seriously thought they were frost bitten. I had to get up around 5 am to move my feet a little, but it was so cold outside, I needed to get back under the blankets. I decided I had better go ahead and use the bathroom then because I sure as heck wasn't going to get out from under the blankets for a while. So, I went up to port-a-john a block away that was being used for a construction site (it is very interesting how the homeless know all things about the streets: where to get cardboard, where is the best place to use the bathroom, where to stash your belongings). I actually did not want to leave it because although it was pretty cold inside, it was shield from the wind (at this time, the wind-chill was probably around 0 degrees.

Throughout the entire night, I felt like there was a draft coming through the blankets, so that we could never warm up. We slept maybe a total of two hours that night, and Bill even said that he did not sleep any because it was so cold. The first thing that hit me was that, when we woke up, we couldn't get into a warm shower or sit in front of a fireplace. We had to pack up our things and move on. I couldn't even imagine trying to work or do anything productive after a night like that. And then, what happens when you go through a week like that? How could anyone keep functioning? Elaina and I were both incredibly rundown and even a bit irritable by that point, mainly due to physical conditions, and I began to see firsthand why many people on the street are very difficult to get along with.


8 AM. Fortunately, Bill told us there was a “homeless friendly” McDonald's a couple of blocks away, so we decided we would go there and warm up a little before heading out to a 9:30 breakfast at a place called Zaccheus' Kitchen. After being thoroughly disgusted at seeing McDonalds's expand their global corporation to Bolivia, I had never been happier to be in one. It was warm, and we could sit down and chill. Elaina bought some coffee and I bought some tea from the money we had panhandled on Saturday, letting our bodies thaw out, and trying to become conscious of everything going on. It was really weird, but after such a difficult night and the morning cold, I really felt dead mentally. My face was so cold that I had trouble speaking, and my brain had trouble forming complete sentences. There was a nice bathroom there that homeless people would use to clean themselves up and such.

We stayed there for about an hour, talking about how cold it was the night before and how people could make it through entire winters. We then headed over to Zaccheus' Kitchen where we received an incredible meal with pasta, salad, bread, and drink. There must have been a couple hundred people in there, with about 70% of them African American males. While we were eating, an older guy came up and started talking to us. Of course, we were very noticeable, mainly because we were white, but also because we were young. He told us they normally did not offer showers because it was Martin Luther King Holiday, but if we let him know in the next five minutes, we could use them. We politely declined the offer because we were to soon head back to the NCH office (of course, we did not tell him that). He proceed to tell us about the services they had available: They could help us buy a but ticket home, could line us with job interviews, lawyers, housing assistance, laundry, this and that. It sounded like a very impressive operation and I was thinking, wow, why don't more people take advantage of these services? Afterwards, when we were telling Bill about all the services this place was offering, Bill said it was a bunch of crap. He said that place had received a grant of $150,000, and all that they could see had been done was a few new laundry machines and showers. He said there was an arrest warrant out for the social worker who used to work there because he would bring female clients into his office, lock the door and try to rape them. This scenario certainly showed how the whole experience was one of extremes and that everything should be taken with a grain of salt. While I did not believe either of them totally, it just reinforced the fact that there is always more than one side to the story and often times, you will just have to experience for yourself to really know what is true.

We left Zaccheus' Kitchen and returned to the NCH office where we had a “debriefing” session with Michael. We drove back to Betsy's, and slept for about 4 hours before beginning the drive home to Raleigh.