S2: Episode 33 - Tiffany

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 33, Tiffany.

Tiffany: My name is Tiffany. I’m homeless. I’m 28. Well, the only language that I know other than English is a little Japanese. (speaking Japanese) Basically, that just means my stomach hurts. Well, when I first started getting depression was when I was 10 years old. I just couldn’t concentrate on my work in school. And I, I just, you know, had nightmares all the time. But I know that my parents sent me to a bunch of psychiatrists and psychologists with me. I just start to get really, really mad and hostile and agitated. Most of the time. I just keep things bottled up and I’m quiet.

Hugger, pain, suffering, sick, tired, lightheaded, depressed. Yes, I’ve gone days without eating. Well, when you go to bed hungry, then you know your stomach really, really hurts. But sometimes, you know, you get used to it. You know, you go to bed hungry a lot of times. So it, it’s not as hard to go to sleep. I, I am proud of my intellect and my, what people would call stubbornness, my determination. I’ve been arrested so far about close to 50 times for Panhandle while like a restaurant tells me not to come over anymore, you know, because of me panhandling, and I still come over. So they take you to the main jail. So you spend about two, three days then, the way I see it, yeah, it sucks. I don’t wanna be there, but at least, you know, I have a place to stay. At least I have a bed to sleep in. At least I get fed three times a day.

I usually just feel people out. Like if some guy’s walking by and, and, and he’s in a business suit and, and he’s talking on his cell phone, you know, then he wouldn’t help you out. Usually I ask like a man and a woman, you know, with pushing their kid in, in the little stroller, you know, they’re normal everyday people that, that would at least, you know, treat you like a human. Well, I’ve been outside trying to sleep when it is been so cold that, you know, you could barely feel your body. And, and it was like impossible for me to sleep and, and hungry.

I wondered who I am. That is something that I am trying to figure out myself because I have been through so much that a lot of times I can’t even remember who I am or was this. One of the nicest things that anybody has ever done for me was I was sleeping outside of a convenience store downtown when this one guy rides up and he gives me $5 and drives off. However, when he comes back, he gives me some food, and then he actually gets out of his vehicle and takes off all of his clothes, putting on pajamas and gives me his pants, his socks, and a new pair of shoes, the shirt he was wearing. And it was cold outside at the time, and, and even a backpack. But I, I was shocked, and, and I was flattered.

[Outro Music]

Host: It takes time to listen, and it takes time to tell a story. Most of the individuals that have experienced hunger said they felt invisible. Dr. Welch Diamond was a mental health physician that lived in England in 1850. He said it’s quite possible to look at someone without seeing them at all. Discovery. Our rediscovery usually results from a change in perspective. There is so much misunderstanding circling around the experiences of hunger. Many in the public believe that those that experience hunger must be lazy, must be irresponsible, that they are a burden to society. However, if you look close up, face-to-face, not from a distance, the reasons of poverty, homelessness, the experience of hunger, is much more complicated. There is so much we can learn from others. Thank you, Tiffany, for your openness, your strength, your important presence. May something in story stay with you. I’m Michael Nye. You may go to my website, michaelnye.org/podcast for portraits and transcripts. Thank you for listening. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice.