change. Don’t support panhandling. Give to a local charity. A spokesper-
son for the Clarkston City Council recently talked to the Lewiston Tri
bune about the signs:
The goal here is to educate the public. . . . We have such a giving com-
munity, and I feel they are being taken advantage of. People who live
here are used to seeing the regular panhandlers and probably realize
they’ve made it into a career, but I worry about shoppers from the out-
lying areas who go to Walmart and Costco and feel sorry for them.
And last fall, the director of Lewiston’s Community Center told meabout growing problems downtown. I’d arranged for my writing students to interview some senior citizens as they gathered for lunch, partof a low-cost nutrition program offered three days a week through thecity’s Parks and Recreation department. The director and I were standing on the sidewalk waiting for my students when a car of rough-lookingtwenty-somethings tore through the parking lot, hanging from the windows. They hooted and picked up a young man who stood nearby witha backpack.
“Drugs,” the director said. “Meth, heroin—it’s everywhere down
He told me the center had to change its policies because people were
using it as a place to shoot up, watch porn, and pass out. Passwords now
protect the Wi-Fi. The community rooms remain locked.
At the trailer, I watch the man take his copy of the trespass orderand walk toward 21st Street, hands still in his pockets. Had he also beenforced from the Community Center?
“You’re looking good,” one of the officers says to him as he passes by.
“Thanks,” he says. “I’ve been clean for a few weeks.”
“That’s good to hear, man,” the officer says. “Take care of yourself.”
The woman comes out of the trailer with another black suitcase, and
I realize that I’ve seen her before, a year ago downtown when I was hav-
ing coffee with a friend. We sat near one of the giant curved windows
that overlooks Main Street, sipping iced Americanos, nibbling scones.
It was one hundred degrees outside, and the woman crouched on one
of the elevated concrete planter boxes that line the street, cradling a
backpack, talking to herself, crying. No shoes. I remember pitying her.