This is a guest post by Jane Knuth.
I’m interviewing a gentleman at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store who tells me that he needs help paying an eviction notice for back rent. I ask him to tell me his story while I fill out our paperwork.
“When this started I was just a little behind, so I called the welfare people. They told me there’s this new number to call where I can get a list of all the agencies and churches that help out with financial problems. The number is 211—have you heard of it?”
I nod. “Did you call them?”
“Yeah I did. Well…I guess not. See—I thought I dialed 211, but I must have dialed 911 by mistake. I tell this lady my problems with the rent and my other bills, and she asks me, ‘Do you ever think about suicide?’
‘Well, who hasn’t?’ I tell her.
‘How would you do it?’ she says.
So I tell her I wouldn’t jump out no window, because I only live on the second floor and I could end up crippled but still alive. And we talk some more and then I hear this knock on the door.
She says, ‘I’ll wait. You go and answer it.’
I go downstairs and open the door and there’s the cops. They bundle me up and take me off to the hospital. Took me a week to convince those docs in the psychiatric ward that I dialed the wrong number.”
Jane Knuth is the author of Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time and the upcoming Thrift Store Graces: Finding God’s Gifts in the Midst of the Mess. She has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the last 15 years.