It’s quiet under the Athens Loop exit ramp toward South Milledge Avenue. Members of society driving west past College Station Road take Exit 6 toward the South Milledge Avenue and Macon Highway traffic light, unknowing they’re driving above the remnants of someone’s shelter.
It’s like most other homeless camps — mere yards away from society, yet far removed from it.
The camp is the size of a two-car garage and is littered with abandoned items: dirt-covered teddy bears, dirt-covered metal spoons and ceramic plates holding dirt. Dirt-covered linens such as socks, jackets, bed sheets and rugs are tossed into a pile, practically forming a bed.
The bridge’s support beams act as shelves holding more belongings such as a clay-covered VTech phone that’s resting in its charging dock — no outlet to charge from, no service to call with. A plastic baby doll with chubby cheeks, green eyes, long eyelashes and a face peppered with dirt is tangled in a dead bush, an empty Canadian Mist whiskey bottle resting on its stomach.
Quotes scribbled in white chalk line the bridge’s support beams. “Life is not that bad” reads one, a peace sign drawn just below it. “Because we forgot who we were” reads another.
On the adjacent beam: “I was a person at one time.”
A face behind the numbers
Mike Wuthrich said he was also a person at one time. Until he had enough with society.
“I lost it. I wigged out,” the 47-year-old said. “I couldn’t take life no more. So I ended up going to the hospital and telling them that I just want to end up killing myself. I wanted to get it done with.” Continue reading “By crisis or by choice, the stories behind Athens’ homelessness”