Friday, September 30, 2011

Day - 10 Waiting

One of the worst parts about being homeless is the wait! Everything (even the simple things) take time. Right now I'm waiting on supplies for my project that I ordered on the web. After that maybe I can get my phone turned back on. My goals are not going to change as long as I have to wait. House, car, and my kids! Will I make it? Who knows? I can't become comfortable with being homeless, don't think I ever could. But this is the hand I was dwelt and I have to believe God will lift me up and get me through this mess. He has provided for me the last 10 days. He has provided for me every single time I've been down.  He has provided my whole life. I have faith and I do believe I will be cared for in this time, too!

Let's talk about my relationship with you (the reader) for a second. I have no idea why I'm writing my day by day life as a homeless person into a blog for you to read. I don't even know if it will ever get read. I don't know if I can help anyone that might wind up like me. As far as I'm concerned I'm yelling into the wind. I hope someday this stuff helps someone. I just feel like right now I need to do this. If any of my tips helps you then I did something good.

Homeless tip :
"The homeless credit card" - What? LOL, let me tell you. One night a few years ago I was scoping out a "spot to squat" (that also is another tip). It was kinda dark out and I was very tired. I kept noticing this woman watching the same spot. After some time she came over. She knew I was homeless because she was too. And she knew we were both doing the same thing. We started talking a little and decided to share the same spot for the night. Usually I wouldn't do this but I gave in this time because we were both in need and she seemed nice. We did not have sex or do anything like that. We just both needed the same place for the night. Inside the spot she told me her story. She was a bum. She had been on the street for about 20 years or so and had no drive or ambition to leave. She was kind of a hippie, but I was clear to NOT connect being a hippie with being homeless.

Well, being a bum and surviving 20 years on the streets, you can imagine what a wealth of knowledge she was. After she told me a story about once when she ran into Will Smith and his son, she told me about "The homeless credit card". "The homeless credit card" consists of two things: a black sharpy, and a piece of cardboard. I know what you're thinking - "I've seen this several times". I'm sure you have. But I doubt you have seen as many as the kind she had. She had an approach. What she would do was write on the cardboard EXACTLY what she needed. And she NEVER asked for money. Why? Because she didn't need it. What she did need was toothpaste, a sleeping bag, a hair brush, shampoo, even a cheeseburger. And she always got what she asked for. Everytime!

People are fed up with homeless people asking for money all the time. With this recession things are even worse and people are even tighter with their money. But people are kind-hearted (I believe that very much) and are willing to help someone in need. They just don't want to toss away their money. As a homeless person you just have to understand that, understand that quickly, and move on. No one is going to hand you a wad of cash, but they will hand you something specific that you need in that moment. My friend for the night understood that. And on every card she made she was very specific about what she needed. Specificity. This is an excellent tip.

I never saw her again. Throughout the night I seemed to grow on her and I think she was starting to like me a little. The next morning she asked me to wait for her while she went across the street to a hotel and got us some free coffee. Me, following one of my major rules....... left!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day - 8 Doors Close and Open

So much has happened in the last few days that I don't even know where to begin. I suppose I'll start with the couch. I went back to it. I was in need. It had rained all day and the ground was wet. Also, I was tired. The door was locked and that broke my heart. They must have seen me on the camera. Well, I'm grateful I didn't get into trouble. However, this wasn't good for me. But this is exactly why I keep a few spots handy. I decided to go to my other spot, the park. Along the way I saw a new spot. A better spot! I walked (snuck) over and checked the door......unlocked, YES! The first words that ran through my head where "Thank God". Its not as comfortable but its more private and I like that a lot. Even for the homeless.... when one door closes another will open. You just have to have it in you to look for the doors.

The other day I was walking through some heavy brush (I'll tell you about that in a second). I came across a homeless man laying on a few pieces of cardboard. He did not want to be seen. He had a few things with him and he was well hidden. But, it was what he was doing that caught my attention the most. He was reading a book. It was like 4:00 in the afternoon and this guy was just laying around in some brush under a tree reading a good book. Mabey he knows something I don't. I thought to myself, "What is this guy doing? How is he ever going to make it off the streets? Why isn't he looking for doors?" Maybe he was just satisfied with where he was in life. I can't do that though. I must find a way out. Seeing this guy made me check in with my goals - and my plan.

Some homeless people just expect to be taken care of I think. Or they are hoping for some sort of miracle to happen. Like the homeless people I used to see at the beaches everyday - its like they just stand around with their hands out all day long and hope something will going to happen. Like some rich guy from Laguna beach is just gonna come over and adopt them or hand then a few grand (you know, to help them get on their feet). Me, I can't do that and I won't hold my breath. Now, I won't ask for help from anyone, but once or twice someone asked if I needed help and I said yes. I don't feel bad for that. I just don't ask for free handouts. How will I reach my goals if I do that? How could I become independent (like I used to be) if I did that? I might be homeless but I still have pride and respect for myself.

Now don't get me wrong. I feel bad for anyone on the streets living a homeless life. And if homelessness happens to you and you don't know how to get by, I can see why you might put out your hands. But most treat it like its a beach party. My guess is that only about 30% actually make it off the streets. But its probably less. And I blame that mostly on state programs and laws.

I went back to get my bag last night. LOL, someone else found it! I couldn't believe it! Someone actually found it, pulled it all apart, stole one hat and some soap. LOL! And what's funny about it was that most all the clothes I had where fresh and clean. All those things were left in the bag. So, I got it all together. It wasn't easy because I was deep in brush (this is how I ran into my homeless book reading friend) and all my clothes where scattered. I got it all together and did my laundry (which I couldn't afford). Then I found a new spot for my bag that was much deeper into the brush. Good luck finding that, LOL!!

I've been working on my plan every day and am just now starting to make progress. When you are homeless everything is a hurdle. I'll be revealing my plan to you soon. I'm just nervous about it and don't want you laughing at me now.

I once meet a homeless man that hadn't had a shower in 8 years. Believe me when I say that you could smell every single day of those years. I wondered what would happen if he did take one. How would it change him? How would it help him? I think it would have done wonders for him as far as being homeless in the public. I also think he personally would have changed. I wondered if he showered would he feel like a new man? Would he be shocked into remembering the life he had before this life of a homeless man? A life where maybe things where better for him? Also, if that happened do you think he might have done a little more to come up and get off the streets? I don't know. I will never know, but what I do know is this: taking showers is important and many homeless people don't get to take one. How would you feel walking around all day sweating your butt off, wearing jeans, and hugging all of your stuff just to have to sleep in some bushes, and not being able to do anything about it? I hope it never happens to you. I thought about this homeless man the other day as I was taking my 3 minute bath in the sink at McDs. I though how nice it would be if each major city had homeless showers scattered throughout the city. I pictured it much like a "port-a-potty" sort of thing. It would have a side closet to place one's stuff, a soap dispenser, and a box of shower footie's (let face it, that would be a must-have). I would put up about 5 here in Tampa. The homeless people here would look and feel so much better. Anyway, it was just a thought.

Homeless tip :

Reorganize often! Once every 3 days or so I take 30 minutes to go through all my stuff and reorganize it. It helps keep me sharp, fast, and feeling better about my living conditions. Even homeless people collect garbage over time. Get rid of it! You don't need it! I have about mmmmmmmmm 12 pockets on my backpack. I know whats in every single one. If I need my chap stick..... there it is. You never want to have to shuffle around and take out your stuff to get what you need, ever! Its embarrassing and it lets everyone know what you have and who you are (someone living out of a bag). So keep it clean and keep it light.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day - 7 I'm Charged Up

I just lost everything I wrote. Not happy. So what I gonna do is save it all for tomorrow. I had quite a bit. I will leave some help though. This tip is for the homeless people who are stuck and trying to make it out alive. And for the homeless people who can still dream a good life.

Homeless tip :

Outlets...... find them! Remember I said you need your phone with you? You need it whether it has minuets or not. Your phone is very handy. It has all your friends numbers in it, you can also store new numbers if you need to. Its an alarm clock (which you will need), its your calendar, and your clock is always handy. Your phone is a must-have - dead or alive! But you must keep it charged. Find outlets! They are everywhere, just look for them. You can find a lot of them in front of stores, around phone booths, and other random places. When possible use them in fast food restaurants like McDs or Burger King. If you have the money buy one item off the dollar menu and spend a long time eating as you charge your phone. Try no to just go into a place and just to do it. And avoid sitting right in front of the workers. Usually they won't bother you, but there is no need to draw attention to yourself. If you are using an outside outlet, try not to get caught. Sit in front of it and do your best to make like you actually have a reasion to be there. Do whatever you can to keep it powered up. I power my phone and computer mostly at McDs. They know people are gonna use the free WiFi there. I buy one double cheese burger and a drink and spend a few hours charging my phone while I blog and do other things that I hope will get me off the streets. Stay charged anyway possible!!!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Day - 6 Working On It

In college I did a special program I did for homeless people to get caught up on my academics and
ready for regular college courses. I had 5 classes, including spelling and writing. The lowest grade I made was a 97%! Not bad for a guy that didn't even graduate. But still, its just something I can't do well. Nonetheless, there are some things that I'm smart at: Manufacturing work (I'm a pit bull with that - good luck finding someone at my level) and surviving the streets.

The problem is that I don't want the streets anymore, never did. I hate it and I've got to make it out of here before I die (or get killed). It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it, but I have no choice!

Didn't get to get online yesterday (sorry)! Yesterday was a very slow day for me. Still haven't checked on my bag. Got to do that later. I stayed in the park again. That's not bad but the mosquitos get to me a lot and so its kinda hard to sleep.

I'm still putting together my plan. Its making my scared though. Here in Tampa there are lots of homeless people. They are all on the islands of the the busy intersections with signs. I don't want to do that. I'll lever reach my goal if I do. People want to give to help, I believe that, but they have a hard time trusting someone on the street corners asking for money. I can't blame them.

All I want is my life and my little girls back. And it has occurred to me..... that might not ever happen! But I have to try. They depend on me. Heck, they still love me..... and that alone so more than anyone else has ever done for me. So for now, I give homeless tips, keep believing in myself and them, and keep working on it.

Homeless tip :
Stay clean!!!! As much as possible! Its not easy but you must! Staying clean gives you access to things you will need, and trust me when I say, you will need! I know its not easy though! My advise is to take full advantage of every public bathroom you can. Use the sinks and soap. Brush your teeth and wash your hair. The trick here is to be fast and unnoticed (so you can use it again). Try not to make a lot of noise. Wash the parts of your body that need it the most first (armpits, feet, private parts) and wash everything else after if you have the time. Do this as often as possible. A clean pan-handler will make more then a dirty one (I'm not down for panning, that's just a good way to make my point on this). And remember, the more private the bathroom the better. Look for locks and cracks on the door. A solid door, one person bathroom with a lock is the best. Just be fast about it.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day - 4 The Movement

I have a plan and a goal. Now Its time to start making moves. Will I make it or will I fail? I have no idea for sure, but I DO have faith. Just got to keep the faith and find out.

Last night I found a good spot to sleep. However, I'm loosing a lot of sleep the last few days. I guess that's OK for now. But if I start falling asleep in random places I'm going to have to do something about that. The place I found last night was in a sort of office building. It had a very small lobby and I stayed on the small love seat they had for people waiting. The windows where tinted so no one could see me. Also, I was inside and the noise was limited. There where security cameras there but I doubt anyone will ever look at the tapes. Why would anyone waste there time if nothing got broken into?

I'll avoid going there for a few days and then hit it again if I still can. Its always good to have a few spots like that when you're homeless on the streets. I also found a good place to stash my stuff. Well, it's good if its still there later - LOL! I'll check on it in a day or so and make sure. If its still there then great!

I do want to take a second to say something about yesterdays "homeless tip". There is one good reason to talk to homeless people. If you find you are in a bit of a jam or something, like for example, if you are hungry, ask a homeless person. They are a wealth of info when it comes to state programs, food banks, Salvation Army assistance, and any other thing you might need to get you through the day. But leave it alone after you get the info. Remember - the only reason to communicate with homeless people is when you need to ask for information for your survival - never to make a new friend. Also I think every state offers 411 for help.

Anyway, today was spent trying to put my plan together. Its going to take some work, but I believe in it, so I'm willing to do the word. I hope it will be successful! I can't live like this.

I feel like I can give 1000 homeless tips right now, LOL! But I'm only going to do one. Need to keep something to write about in the future.

Homeless tip :
Travel light! You wouldn't believe how many homeless people I've seen with everything they own it seems. Having lots of stuff is not worth it on the streets when you have no home. I once meet a couple. A husband and wife team. The story they had was that he was a truck driver and she lived in the truck with him. They lived like that for some time over a full year. The whole time they spent money on crap they didn't really need in the first place ("what-nots" I call them). So they had no money. One day after a truck run that ended in Santa Anna, California the husband was fired and told to leave the truck where it was. I don't know how that's legal but that's what they told me, and there they were - stuck. Of course they had everything from that truck with then. Makeup, clothes, books, and a whole bunch of other stuff. These two seemed to have bag after bag of stuff. When you are on the streets you need as little as possible. Think 50 pounds in weight. This is what you absolutely need:
- clean clothing
-hygiene products
-a phone (even if it is shut off)
-a resume (because you never know)
-2 or 3 garbage bags
-and if you like to read....... the Bible!

Nothing more! You need to be able to get around easily. I know its hard to toss out your stuff (believe me, I know) but you have to. You will never make it if you bring all your stuff. It will hold you down, slow you down, make you noticed, and make you a target. Toss it out.... and get moving!

OK, one more homeless tip for you.

If you are caught in the rain and have one garbage bag, do not put holes in it and where it like a rain coat. Instead, cover your shoes and feet! When you are homeless, the most important part of your body is your feet. Wet shoes and feet do not serve you well. If you're walking around with wet shoes you will get blisters and sores. It will be the worst pain your feet have ever felt! That's what rain will do to you. Every step you take will be a nightmare waiting for you. Besides, rain will rot your shoes faster. And the last thing you need is to be homeless, with blistered feet, and no shoes. If you do get caught with wet shoes, get them off ASAP and dry them out.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Day - 3 The Plan

The plan -
I'm still working on it - pulling it all together now. Don't have much to work with tho. I think I'm going to be doing some walking..... cross country!

Starting here in Tampa Florida and heading west first.

Last night was hard: it rained! I got drenched and so did my stuff (which I have stashed in some brush right now). I stayed under a porch with a roof in front of this bar-like sort of place. It was pretty open. Anyone that was looking in my direction would have seen me. But I dried up. This goes against some of my tips, but when it rains you have to break some rules I guess.

Keep thinking things might change and get better. I have faith, but not much hope. Honestly this might be my last try at making a better life for myself before I go crazy.

I did my day labor today and found out they where taking out my child support! So now I work all day and make about 48.50 - 8.00 (or so). 40.00 X 4 days a week. This isn't going to be enough to get me anywhere in life. I just can't do it!

I used to be a good dad! I used to raise my kids with no fear. Now I wonder if I'll ever see them again. They live in Vermont with my parents (God bless them). I haven't seen then in about a year and a half. It drives me nuts not being in there life, but what can I do? I can't raise them under a bridge! At least I know they are safe.

I have faith. I'm a solid worker and my resume is awesome. I spent most of my life in manufacturing. I believe there are jobs out there. I just haven't found one yet. Things will get better but I've got to see if my plan works. I'm going to think it over a little more and see if its going to be a fit for me.

In the mean time - I guess it's time for another tip.

Homeless tip: Do not buddy up! It's a very bad idea. Stay away from other homeless people. Do not look for skid-rows, homeless camps or any other place where homeless people "squat"! The only time you should ever be around anyone homeless is when you are in line at the soup-kitchen. THAT'S IT!

The reasons are simple: Hanging out with other homeless people is a quick way to get hurt or have your things stolen. Not to mention that these people will do nothing but hold you down and pull you back. They don't want to see you make it and they will do anything to hold you back and slow you down. You are on your own and you MUST stay that way. Don't let anyone get in your way. Its never fun being homeless and lonely but this is not the time in your life to be trying to make friends. And simply put, a friendship of this nature will never work for you. Just stay away from them. you are better off!

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day - 2 Thinking About It!

Thinking, thinking, thinking! Where to go from here. Options are limited! Lets see where I'm at.....

Clothing: check
Hygiene products: check
Money: No check. Why did I suddenly decide to toss my last 40 out of 50$ I into an overdrawn account last night?? I'll never know!

I just have to smile about that one.

OK - on with my checklist -
Lets see
Friends: None here in Tampa - just me! OK - I guess that counts - check for me
Work: check! I do have a foot in day labor! Thank god for the small ones! That should get me just enough money to eat and at least kinda keep myself healthy.
Work info: check
Identification: check
Faith: check

So its bad, but it could certainly be worse! Last night I slept in a park. That's also not bad. I mean, a park is good compared to some places I've slept. Note to self: stake out a few more spots!

Thinking, thinking, thinking!
This is the best part for me..... because I am a thinker. The first thing I need to be is create a goal!
Done.... check!

Goal: Get a place I can call home! A place where I can live and never be homeless again! And at the same time make enough money so I don't have to struggle week to week! "The American Dream"!

Now, how to get there is a different story. I need a plan and I need to do it step by step. I know that the step by step part is a very important part of the plan. I think I have one, but I'm not quite ready to tell you, the viewer, about it yet.

I can tell you this: I'm homeless, not a bum! These are not the same things. Don't forget that! There is a big difference.

I can also tell you this: I didn't become this way because I was what society would consider "bad". When I first became homeless I was making 23.51 an hour working in manufacturing. I had money in the bank. I had a nice car (used, but at least it was payed for). I wasn't on drugs and I never gambled. And was not in any trouble with the law. Most importantly, I had my two little girls with me every day.

What I have learned is that this could happen to anyone!

Thinking, thinking, thinking!

I have decided that as part of my blog I'm going to give some hints and help on how to survive being homeless...... I'm becoming a pro..... and sharing my experience with you is the least I can do. I feel strongly about this because I know for sure that homelessness is just a step away for anyone - not just me. As I said before, this can happen to anyone.

Homeless tip 1: know the deference between being a bum and being homeless!
I'm homeless but not a bum! I have drive, ambition, dreams, and determination! A bum has (or chooses not to have) any of these things. A bum has settled into his life on the street and is fine with it. A bum is the same guy you see every morning sleeping in the same bus stop day after day because he doesn't move far. A bum might even have a house and a job! Anyway you slice it, if you are on the street know what you are. Are you homeless? Or are you a flat out bum? Knowing that difference is important.

This is my day 2..... And I'm still thinking......

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hopelessrob Day 1

Day -1

So here it is Day 1.... again! What is this? The 4th time in the last 4 years. Maybe that's wishful thinking. It's probably more like 5 times. LOL! Got to have a sense of humor when you're standing fresh on the side of the road with your bags and no place to go. Got to love it.

>>I don't! <<

But I've been here before and am not so scared this time (yeah, that's a lie, too!) Less then 50$ in my pocket doesn't help. When this happened before, I said to myself if this happens again I would document it. Man, I wish I had a video camera. I don't, so I'll blog it all down instead.

Day 1 is always hard. By the time I'm done it might be day 50 or day 1000! I just cant tell right now. I hope its quick tho. I'm getting too old for this (32). I don't know how this might help anyone (even myself). And I'm not really sure what I'm writing here. But for anyone who wants to see someone that has just hit the dirt hard (for the 5th time) and see how they handle it (will he make it? will he fail?) read on!

My name is Rob (or hopelessrob as Ive been known to call myself from time to time), and I'm homeless!

And this is Day 1!!!

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