I started to take out some bills, as did a young woman nearby. We both gave the homeless woman money and discussed calling some city service about her since it was going to be a very cold night for anyone to spend on the street. I agreed to make the call as soon as I got home, just a couple of blocks away. I telephoned 311, the number for services other than 911 emergencies, and fairly soon reached someone from homeless services. A sympathetic-sounding woman asked me the person's location, saying that it was probably Nini, someone with whom she was quite familiar. She said that she would call me back to tell me what happened. The service has a few vans that patrol the city in order to deal with such situations as this. Not too much later, she called back. Yes, it was Nini, who, as was often the case, did not want to go with them. (They often receive calls about her.) The caseworker said that they were quite familiar with Nini's ways and that "if it gets too much for her, she'll go to Peter's place." She assumed that I knew what Peter's place was. I thanked her and said, "We tried."
I thought that "Peter's place" might be just some friend's apartment. But I googled it and found that it was a drop-in shelter in the basement of a church in Chelsea, all the way across town. I never found out if Nini made it over there. She wasn't even wearing a coat but was wrapped in a thin blanket on that frigid evening. Well, we tried.