The Mission Man’s Summertime Conundrum

How an unusual but very cool (among homeless shelters) policy at the Memphis Union Mission puts me to a tough decision every day

The main building of the Union Mission – where we dine, go to chapel, watch TV – is square shaped, built in two phases (two L shapes) between 2017 and 2023. It’s therefore known as Phase 1 and Phase 2. It has 6 dorms that sleep about 200. It is thoroughly modern with good air conditioning.

The other building, MES (no idea what that stands for) is the original Mission building, built in 1945. These days it’s used only for sleeping. It has 123 beds. It’s been retrofitted with A/C but it’s ineffective. The last night I stayed in :MES, it was about 83 and stuffy ithere. (I hear there are plans to eventually replace MES with a Phase t3.)

Depending on the dorm, we are awakened at either 5:30 or 6:00. I tend to skip breakfast (a bowl of corn flakes in milk most days) in favor of charging my devices. Most days I’m out the door by 7:00, headed to the Downtown core. I stay out until about 1:00 PM, being sure to be back to the Mission in time to beat the 2:00 deadline to get in free for the night.

But that 7 AM departure time? That’s totally a time of MY choosing. Which is kinda cool in a way, yet it also creates a problem for me.

You see, most shelters – including Calvary, the other large men’s congregate shelter in town – kick their guests out right after breakfast.

Memphis Union Mission does not. You can hang out in the common room until 9, when the front office opens; then go up there and check in and get a bed assignment for the new day. A LOT of men do this. A lot of men never set foot outside.

I can’t imagine doing that. I want to go see my friends. I also want access to Wi-Fi, which the Mission does not have. Without it I can’t write this blog.

But by the time I get back to the Mission between 1 and 2 in the afternoon, more often than not I find that all the Phase 1 and Phase 2 beds are taken. So, off to MES I go. Another night in MES. Another night in 83 degrees.

Those of you who know me well know I loooooove air conditioning.

I love my friends more, though.

And I love writing for all of you more.

I just hope I feel the same way in August. It’s gonna be a long, hot summer.

On to the news…

There’s a FREE showing of The Color Purple tonight at the Orpheum.

Flyway Brewing beers are showing up Downtown even though the Little Rock-based brewery has yet to open in the High Cotton space on Monroe.

The Memphis Medical District Collaborative’s success is gaining national attention.

The National Baptist Congress of Christian Education is meeting at the Renasant Convention Center this week.

Today is Take Your Cat to Work Day.

A man has been charged with stealing a Corvette Downtown Saturday night.

Libraries and government offices will be closed Wednesday for Juneteenth.

I bet some sports psychologist is going to make a lot of money off Rory McIlroy this week. That was an epic choke in the U.S. Open.

Looks like it’s going to be a rainy Monday. Back tomorrow with more news.

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