By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Theyre no longer background noise
Placeholder Image

There was a new panhandler outside the 7-Eleven at Powers and Yosemite avenues on Wednesday.
Usually it is a fairly young guy — polite I might add —  in a wheelchair who may not be homeless per se.
When he departs 7-Eleven he usually ends up heading south on Washington Street.  He could be going toward a no-man’s land between Lincoln Park/Manteca High/Lincoln School that has been used from time-to-time by the homeless. If he is homeless and heading there, the guy is doing his best to blend in.
That wasn’t the case with the new guy. He had staked out an area between the tanning salon and 7-Eleven. He was having a hard time being civil to people. An older man with graying unkempt hair and beard, he had planted himself on the sidewalk where his pilfered Wal-Mart shopping cart overflowing with stuff was parked next to a trash can.
His vulgar cursing with a threatening edge to it made more than a few people passing by uneasy. It was in stark contrast to how people reacted when the younger guy would ask for a spare dollar. He didn’t intimidate.
The vulgar guy — after refusing requests to cease his cursing — was eventually roosted with a threat that the police would be called.
What he did next is a precursor of what’s to come.
He started pushing his cart toward the gas station across the darkened street, never pausing or even looking at traffic on Yosemite Avenue. Fortunately approaching drivers saw him even though one had to hit the brakes hard. He was oblivious to the world.
One day a homeless person could step in front of your car. Or your son or daughter could be going to the 7-Eleven for a Slurpee or to anywhere else in town and have an encounter you’d rather they not have.
I get that there have always been homeless — and always will be. Most are invisible and what “crimes” they commit tend to be quality of life issues such as leaving a mess after rummaging through dumpsters. Yes, there are those that steal and vandalize to get items to recycle. Yes there are those that destroy property. Over the years I’ve talked to a number of homeless that are civil and in a few cases better kept than a lot of folks when it comes to their appearance. And, yes, there are those among the homeless with mental issues.
About once every two to three weeks I encounter them — mostly on jogs. They are usually away from everybody talking loudly and will direct verbiage at you as you pass. Twice in the past six months I’ve had encounters with a homeless guy with mental issues that looks a tad like Popeye. The first time he pushed me as I jogged past him by the Arco station on the way to In-Shape. Nothing major. I looked over my shoulder and threw him a dirty look. He scowled back.
The second time was two months ago. I had dropped off my Escape to be serviced at Manteca Ford and passed him as I jogged north on the sidewalk on Main Street. He yelled three four-letter words as I went by. A few seconds later I was stopped by a red light at Louise Avenue. After I came to a stop, I heard him yelling at me — strike that — threatening to “beat the ****ing s*** out of me.” I turned around and he was walking toward me with both fists clenched. I squared off, went to my angry face (which is really effective with the sunglasses I wear), doubled my fists and took a couple of steps toward him. It was out of character for me but I wasn’t about to become a victim to some half crazed homeless guy for all I knew had a knife. A few seconds later he stopped advancing, turned around, and walked away muttering a mixture of vulgarities among gibberish.
Over the past 25 years in Manteca I’ve been startled by the homeless when going to dump trash in the bin at the Bulletin, getting into my car leaving work at 1 a.m., jogging by bushes along Spreckels Avenue, and even sleeping in the doorway at the Bulletin on a rainy winter evening.
I’ll admit some of the encounters have irked me including once two years ago when one of the four homeless guys suing the city for alleged violation of their civil rights thought it was funny that his dog that was not on a leash — charged my two Dalmatians that were on leashes as I was walking past where the Shell station is now at Yosemite and Commerce. And in fairness to him, I’ve had the same thing happen to me by jerks who weren’t homeless that let their dogs run around without leashes. That said, I never felt uncomfortable until recently.
There has been an uptick, if ever so slightly among the ranks of the homeless, of aggressive behavior. Popeye — the guy I had a fairly serious encounter with — is a known factor. I know to be prepared for unsocial behavior from him and steel myself accordingly.
And while a jerk outside a 7-Eleven mouthing off isn’t going to intimidate me, that isn’t the point. Kids, women, and the elderly shouldn’t be subjected to such behavior.
Yes, Manteca Police do respond to such situations fairly effectively according to a few store owners I’ve talked to.
What is needed it a way to manage the homeless situation better as a community.
Yes, I do believe if you build it — as in a single man’s homeless shelter — they will come. But the problem is they are already here and from the looks of things more are coming.
The police have stepped up. A number of churches and non-profits have stepped up. It’s time to have the talk.
That means our elected leaders need to have frank discussions with the community as to what we are up against, the pros and cons of various courses of action, and develop a strategy that addresses the real issue — the hardcore homeless.
It is no longer just background noise.