William Robinson on his Financial Collapse

May 23, 2017

As I walked up C Street, I noticed a man with black dreadlocks under a bright red beanie that contrasted sharply off of his otherwise dark and baggy outfit.  He sat with one knee up while his back leaned against the beige wall in the corner of a San Rafael public parking garage.  “Some people have been out here for so long that they become mentally ill,” William Robinson told me, avoiding eye contact.  “Some get depressed and become alcoholics or drug addicts.  I’ve now chosen I’m not going back into that system.”  Robinson has been avoiding addiction of any kind for the eight years he’s been homeless.  He is one of the many who lost his job during the economic chaos of 2008’s financial crisis.  Shortly after, Robinson became extremely ill: “I ended up developing cancer [during] my last job in the private security industry.  I had someone to handle my financial affairs when I was in treatment, and they ripped me off.  They took everything, and I had no job to come back to.”  Robinson slumped, clearly still emotionally affected by his experience; however, his eyes lit up when he analyzed the perks of a homeless life.  “I look at myself now as being free from having to pay bills and having to be a slave to rich people while I stay pigeonholed in a mediocre life.  I feel like I’m totally and completely free now.”

 

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