Part 3 – The McGirthy Redemption


I don’t think there’s anything in this world I find more insulting than being lied to.  If you make a mistake, or have a bad past, just come clean and tell me.  At least then we have a starting point, something to work with, and can begin pressing forward from there.  But if we can’t be honest with each other, the both of us are going to be chasing our tails until I find the truth myself and I give you what’s coming to you.  Everyone has their own unique bull crap limit and I think I was about to find mine.

In preparing for the garage sale a day or so later with Turd Muffin still in the hospital for observation, I realized my wife’s sewing machine was missing from our living room.  Five years ago when I got it for her, it costed $75 brand new.  I didn’t have an idea of how much I was going to ask for it at our yard sale, but I did want to sell it.  I called up Collin to ask him where it was.  After a while of dodging my question, he finally hinted that since we were going to sell it at the garage sale, he had hid it under his bathroom sink “with the intention of buying it from us”.  Maybe he was telling the truth.  Why didn’t he just ask first though?  Maybe he wasn’t.  Maybe they were going to hock it off to split a dinner at Chili’s and not say a thing.  Who knows?  Either way, I wasn’t keeping him around long enough to see where this strange friendship that never became was headed.

I packed up both of their things the best I could into an old duffel bag of mine, boxed up the sewing machine for them as a booby prize and stacked it all out on our walkway.  Then I texted Collin and told him their things were packed for them out on the walkway, and he or Molly had better come get them before someone else does.  He tried to act innocent and surprised we weren’t better friends.  Soon, Molly came and got their things and left.  I got a few harassing calls and texts after that from Collin which I avoided, and that was the last I heard from Collin McGirthy.

Thanks to the time lost in all this drama, which I admittedly invited into my own life, the deadline for our move was upon us and left us with no time for a garage sale.  So there was plenty of decent stuff nicely laid out in our garage left behind for the new owners, thieves, or whatever thrift store it ended up in.  It was time to pack up that of our things we were actually taking with us on a long interstate summertime voyage that would prove to be very disastrous.

To loosely quote Steve Martin in an old comedy stand up:  “I break with thee, I break with thee, and I throw dog poop on your shoes” Collin.

Once in awhile, I still wonder about his story.  Where had he really been in life?  What brought about his homelessness?  How many other people had he already used since he became homeless?  Had any abused him?  He did claim to have had previous roommates.  How is his story unfolding now?  Are he and Molly still together?  What about her story?  These things are officially none of my business whatsoever now that I’ve thrust these people from my life, and second how could I ever know the truth being that most of what Collin ever told me was a lie anyway?  They are nonetheless, things I will always wonder about.

Anyhow, my take home after this screwy lesson was that I’m always bumping up against deeper meanings of love and true charity.  They must be something I truly struggle with.  I realize that I did offer Collin a place to stay out of charity.  But once things got ugly, I realized I wasn’t prepared to deal with the consequences of my actions.  Kind of like a hairy man I met knocking doors in the South who answered his door butt naked one morning, I was too busy with life to be able to truly help this guy anyway.  I learned that love expects no specific outcome of charity given.  Love gives out of love.  I was a fool for taking in a needy person and expecting him to use the time to get back to work, even if he originally told me that was his intention.

I view the whole scenario as a failure on so many levels:

  1. A failure to show true charity.
  2. A failure to tell someone “where the buck walks through the buckwheat” when I needed to, to quote my dad.
  3. And lastly, A failure to keep my safety and that of my wife in proper perspective.

All that failing considered, I consider it a solid learning experience and gained firsthand knowledge to back up my previous apprehensions about taking a stranger into my home.  In the end, I know that I actually got off lucky compared to others who have done the same thing.  It scared me to talk about it with my dad afterword and think of other ways this whole experience could have imploded.

Ultra-important to note is that homelessness is a real problem.  There are many thousands of people without a place of their own in this country, whatever their reason may be, and they need help in many different ways.  Are there swindlers out there?  Of course there are!  Does that mean we withhold help from the majority of the homeless?  No.  In the Book of Mormon, there is a great passage which puts forth the proper spirit in which we must address the needs of the less fortunate:

16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

23 I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world.

24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

25 And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received.

26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

27 And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.

 -Mosiah 4:16-27

There are right ways to help the needy, and there are wrong ways (like my story).  There are several things you can actually do to help them along in life, and yet there are things you can do with good intentions, which only place you in danger or enable what is wrong with their lives.  To be of assistance in helping others make better choices that I have, I would like to close by sharing a link to a great post covering the subject, and wish you all love and safety in helping the needy.

8 Ways to Give Directly to People in Need Without “Enabling” Them by Kalen Bruce


Part 2 – Strange Love and the Three Ring Circus


A few days into Collin’s magically weird stay with us, he came home from McDonald’s one afternoon and told me he had met someone special.  She was from the east coast, and was as luck would have it, “totally Irish”, just like him!  We’ll call her Molly Malone.  It was love at first sight!  Maybe they could get a place together and she could take this homeless man off of the streets and make something out of him?!  No such luck.  I would soon find out she was homeless too, although not as homeless as he was.  She at least had a small SUV to sleep in.  Collin asked me if he could borrow a more decent shirt then he then had so he could go to Catholic mass with her that night.  I rarely have much in the way of dress clothes beyond one or two changes, and none of mine would have fit him anyway.  Here’s a fatally electric neon green polo shirt from Costco Collin.  Knock yourself out.  It was a few steps up from the stained t-shirts he had with him, and the largest top I had.

It wasn’t until the arrival of Molly that things really started getting weird.  She unlike Collin, at leat seemed to have legitimate recent employment history, having worked for some health insurance company in her home state.  The next morning, I had the chance to meet Molly myself, as she had slept in her car in front of my house That night.  It turns out she was hiding from an abusive boyfriend who lived somewhere in the area.  Collin would sit in her car with her and they would talk.  Occasionally they would go for a drive to get something to eat, or get things out of her storage unit.  After returning from my own errands that day, Collin asked me if she was allowed to come in our house to hang out with him.  I was totally fine with it, as long as it wasn’t in the bedroom.  Now I had two homeless people in my house just watching Netflix and chillin’ with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  Witnessing their puppy love was an exact mirror to the most obnoxious early teen public display of affection I’ve ever seen.

That night, Molly slept out in her car again.  I can only imagine what my neighbors were starting to think.  At least I was on good terms with most of them.  No one called the police or anything.  My wife and I felt sorry for her, and told her she could sleep in a room on the furthest floor of our house from Collin’s room.  It turns out she has epilepsy.  I won’t make fun of epilepsy, or people who have it.  It’s a legitimate, life-altering sickness that people across the globe and those who love them suffer with daily.  I will however, happily verbally destroy the heck out of people who pretend they have it, as well as other serious health ailments for the purpose of getting attention.  Let me take a moment here to do some of that!

I never saw Molly have a seizure, but there were a few instances when I would come into a room and Collin would be taking care of her because she supposedly had had one.  Her case was at least believable.  She did have prescription bottles of medication with her.  She stopped taking her meds though, purportedly because they didn’t help her anymore, and she was needing to get a new prescription.

Prior to her showing up, I knew that Collin had a few health problems.  But now, he had epilepsy too, as well as frequent strokes!  To me it seemed from this moment on, that whenever he wasn’t getting enough attention, whether from my wife and I or Molly, he would magically have a seizure or a stroke, and he refused to go to the emergency room.  Never mind the fact that he was supposedly unable to help me with packing stuff or preparing for our garage sale; I was suddenly so occupied with worrying about the strange goings on with these two, I could hardly get anything done myself.  Unfortunately for Collin, I am acquainted with people who really have seizures and others who have had strokes, and know well what seizures look like both during and after.  I’ve never witnessed a stroke, but I know what state people are in after, and oddly enough, it has never involved being right as rain the next day.  Oh well, at least it made for some good entertainment knowing he was having to fake all of this.

One day, he “had a stroke”, but miraculously, all that was affected was his speech.  He went around doing everything else as usual, but had to speak as one who was severely mentally handicapped….for less than a day.  When he arose the next morning, he was 100% fine and speaking normally again.  In another instance, he faked a seizure while laying on my front room couch.  I was eating my lunch at the time, and I continued to eat it as he put on his show for me, his 360+ pound self neatly staying on my narrow cushioned couch as he wiggled and kept his arms nicely by his sides.  This act went on for about thirty seconds.  I went into the kitchen just long enough to put my plate in the sink, and when I came back Collin sits up and says to me, “Whoa did you see that?  I just had a seizure!”  Ask anyone close to an epileptic person if that’s how it goes down when having a seizure, and they’ll laugh you right off of your broomstick pony.

Molly had a laptop, and one day they told me that they were looking for places to live in back on the east coast, and that Collin had an uncle who was willing to put down a deposit and the first month’s rent on one of them for him so they could get married and move in together.  They would both get similar jobs to what they had previously had, and they would ride off into the sunset together.  They showed me a picture of a nice looking place they planned on getting.  Good for them!

Another day, I came home to find Collin and Molly talking in her car rather excitedly about something.  I asked them what the problem was, and it became clear that Molly was ultra-platinum level drunk.  She had a tall bottle of hard liquor in her hand, reeked of rotten something, and summoned the dark lord Satan when she turned and spoke to me.  Never mind!  I’ll just go inside and pray for my family and neighborhood!  Hopefully I’d been righteous enough the past year to warrant some serious overwatch from my guardian angels.  I thought I had been pretty clear about the ‘no alcohol or drugs on my property’ rule.  I didn’t think it would be a problem, as both of them had said it wouldn’t be.  But being that Molly was already so dependant on alcohol unbeknownst to me, who was she to care about my rules?  With her problematic car, she could sleep in front of anyone’s house in the entire state of Colorado!

The next day, the negative energy was really coming to a head when I saw them sitting in Molly’s car.  She was crying, and Collin was highly agitated with teary eyes himself.  Molly had just found out her father had passed away back east.  Her family was wanting to fly her and even Collin home for the funeral, but supposedly Collin’s PTSD from the Army was so severe, he couldn’t take a seat on a plane, paid for or not.  PTSD?  What PTSD?  Other than his fake seizures and strokes, Collin had been as calm and chill as a spring morning all covered in dew, from dawn to dusk his entire stay with us, but now he’s a severe PTSD sufferer too?

Collin came prancing into the house like a dramatic child who just had his feelings hurt by the neighbor kid, and working up the best fake cry he could to tell me about how messed up he was about it all.  Uh oh Collin!  Now Molly has bigger drama in her life than you!  Think quick!  Do something!  Ope, time for another seizure!  That’ll take the focus off of her even though her dad just died!  After talking to me for two minutes, he walked back out to Molly’s car to talk with her for a minute.  Then he turns back to come into the house and has another fake, and equally as fast “seizure” in the middle of my front yard.  Except after this time, he’s talking like Forrest Gump X10 again.  Wait Collin!  I thought you only talked like that when you had a stroke?

Still trying to gather up all the sympathy and attention he can for himself with Molly being in shambles at just having been informed of her father’s passing (How dare she?!), Collin walks up to me and in his slower than slow voice tells me he thinks it’s time he finally goes to the emergency room.  She obviously wants nothing to do with him for now, so it’s up to me to get him there.  The hospital is five minutes away from my house without traffic; so even though I know he’s full of crap and part just to get him out of my hair for at least six hours, I took him.  Amazingly, this guy had his wits about him enough to remember to grab his smart phone and charging chord on the way out the door, and only a minute after having a seizure!  Could you believe it?!?!  Neither did I.

I had to drop him off in order to go park a whole 30 yards away.  When I came in, Collin was not in the waiting room, but rushed to the back because of his supposedly life-threatening predicament.  I spoke with a man at the main desk who was seated next to a cop, and told them who I had just brought in, and asked if I could go back with him to make sure he was going to be okay.  The man in a suit told me there was no one admitted by that exact name.  He probably wasn’t supposed to tell me this, but a man that had just come in had registered under the same first name, but a different last name.  He gave me a sticker to put on my shirt, and told me what room number Collin would be in.  I realized that if Collin was comfortable lying about his name to either me, or the hospital, which he obviously had to at least one of us, that he would be comfortable lying to anyone about anything.

When I got to his room, he was somewhere else having tests done.  20 minutes later, he was back.  I just didn’t have anything to say to him.  Keeping in character, he told me I didn’t need to stay, so I gladly left and wondered what I was going to do with this compulsive liar and his sad girlfriend.

To be continued…




The Strange Tale of Collin McGirthy



If you have an open mind, and live long enough, you may have the chance to look back on your personal history and recognize patterns in the landscape of your journey.  These commonalities within our background show us our strengths, and weaknesses.  They come to us quite naturally from a God who put us where we are in life because of what we are made of individually and what we have yet to gain.  These patterns may not be found by each in the same season of life, as we all have different gifts, and are on different paths.  Hopefully, when we do recognize the areas of mental and moral infirmity, we can direct extra effort towards making them stronger.

An experience I had this last summer brought one of my weaknesses into focus, and aside from having already told some of friends about it, and it being a screwy experience to relive, I feel for some reason I need put it down in writing.

For almost six years, we lived in Aurora, Colorado.  We really weren’t all that far from home compared to other servicemen I knew, but somehow, it turned out to be as great an adventure as I could have wanted in it’s own way.  I was stationed there in the Army for most of that time, and after I got out, my wife and I decided to stick around a while so I could go to school there.

In the end though, my anxiety and depression became so out of control that I had to drop out of school.  It was a big blow to me to have to stop, but also a dire one to our income.  I had been receiving financial assistance from the government to help pay rent while going to school because I was enrolled in the Vocational Rehab program.  That dried up pretty quickly once I was out of school.  We tried adjusting our budget the best we could, but eventually, we had fallen far behind on all of our bills, including the mortgage.  I guess we were totally in denial, thinking somehow, we’d fix our situation, until one day we got a letter of foreclosure in the mail.

Two families close to me have lost their homes to such a thing in recent years, and both stories shed light on how sad it really is when people are abruptly forced to downsize their lives, and have their credit otherwise seriously tarnished, if only for a handful of years.  Not wanting to know their pain first hand, we decided to sell our house real quick and get into less of a financial commitment elsewhere.  The house was sold, we had  over a month to get out, and the boys were out of state staying with my in-laws for the summer to help ease the situation.

One night, my wife and I took our laptop to McDonald’s to use their wifi for house shopping and to get ill eating their almost-warm food.  We were probably there four times longer that night than if we had gone for the purpose of getting diarrhea alone.  Somehow, we ended up talking to this bald-headed, bearded man who was sitting in the table next to ours.  Come to find out, he was also an Army veteran, or so we were told.  To number one, protect the names of the guilty, and number two, not give any credit to a turd muffin who lied to us 24/7 and used us,  I have decided to call him Collin McGirthy, paying tribute to his proud Irish heritage, and large size.

Collin was a good ol’ big-talkin’ country boy from Middle of Nowhere, USA, where he proudly told us we should move because of the advantageous decrease in real estate prices.  We didn’t speak with him long, as he was in the midst of flirting on and off with a would-be girlfriend on his smartphone.  But we did exchange phone numbers, because it had come up that I was looking for a job, and supposedly, he had hookups.  I would come to regret it less than a day later.

The next morning, I got a text message from him saying that his roommates had kicked him out and he was probably going to have to walk all the way back home to Oklahoma.  He just needed a place to stay while he got back on his feet at his horse ranch job that was starting back up in a week or so.  As well taken care of as he had me thinking he was the night before, I should have just ignored his text and gone about my day.  I’ve never been one to even as much pull over on the side of the road to help a broken down motorist, for fear of being mugged; and I would certainly never pick up a hitchhiker.  Everyone knows that stuff is dangerous, duh!  This was different though, this guy was nice, and he had served multiple tours to the middle-east as an Army ranger.  He had to be good stuff!  Stupid me.

I called my wife and told her about his situation.  I wanted to help him in some way, I just wanted to talk it over with her to see what was possible for us.  Then I got this bright idea to invite him to stay with us for our last month in our house.  What could it hurt?  I don’t have to worry about our boys, they’re gone.  We didn’t have much worth stealing.  Our generic brand TV was almost 5 years old and already having problems.  He didn’t seem like a dangerous guy.  What the heck, we’d invite him to come stay with us until we were moved out.

I called him and in exchange for $90 rent, offered him a room to stay in for our final month in our home.  He said he could pay us in a week.  The money wasn’t going to change our lives or anything, I just wanted to see some small evidence that he had an ounce of respect for me and my home.  In the end, he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain.  He did a few chores, which I guess in his mind was supposed to be the $90, but we never saw a cent.  He very pitifully accepted, trying to work up whatever sympathy for himself he could.  Maybe it worked.  I started to sense he was a turd, but didn’t think him to be one I should fear.  This would all be great.  He’d get back to work, and he even promised he’d help us pack our stuff into boxes for the move.  I think he was under the impression that the best way to find work was by watching Netflix all day.  Maybe he was brushing up on his acting skills, I don’t know.

I picked him up one McDonald’s further from where we had met the night before.  I think homeless people each possess a magic ring that opens portals which take them to any Mickey D’s location they can think of.  Anyway, he stunk a lot worse at this McDonald’s than the last one, maybe because they hadn’t gotten into the full swing of cooking all their nasty food yet.  So we stopped at King Soopers on the way home to buy him some basic toiletries.

We gave him the boy’s bedroom complete with clean sheets and towels etc. and things were somewhat normal the first few days.  I told him he could eat anything he wanted.  I just never imagined he’d eat four pounds of cheddar in less than ten days!  At first I was a little irritated, because my wife and I had planned on using a little of it for a dinner, but I did after all tell him he could eat whatever he wanted.  Lesson learned I guess.

My wife and I started noticing he was a big BS’er.  He was full of all kinds of ‘One-Upper’ stories.  Some were about how well he had it back in Oklahoma (which often made us wonder what the heck he was doing eating Big Macs in the hood).  Others were about his brave mother before she died, or how he had punched out his former Marine sperm donor of a father the last of only a few times he’d seen him in his whole life.  He had mentally painted me a picture of quite an impressive farmhouse complete with everything you could ever want including acreage, livestock, a small armory, a fancy room decorated in ninja swords, dragons, and waterfalls entirely dedicated to his pursuit of meditation, and a small herd of purebred dogs.  Somehow all this was maintained on his fabulous salary he earned helping on someone else’s ranch.  Whatever Collin.  We’re so happy for you, and glad you somehow chose to bless us of all people with your presence, given you had such better possibilities.

I didn’t allow him to use our computer because we so often used it for personal matters including purchases.  So every day, he would hobble down to McDonald’s a few blocks away to use their wifi on his phone.  It wouldn’t be long though before Collin found his “soul mate”….

— To be continued–