Aidpage is a
support network.
Ask for help
Offer help
Sign up now
Talking about:
3 posts
2,806 visits

Humble Harv's Homeless Handbook

soulight started this conversation

 


 
 Harv , if you are out there ,and you read this here , please contact me through aidpage. 
 

The following is meant to be part of a different page. Please go here before you read the handbook :
 
 NO MATTER HOW LITTLE YOU HAVE YOU CAN ALWAYS GIVE SOME OF IT AWAY.-CATHERINE MARSHALL
 

 

 

 


Humble Harv's Homeless Handbook


PART ONE : 
 
 
It's here at last.  Bookshelves overflow with books about homelessness, but only  Humble Harv's Homeless Handbook tells you how to be homeless.   This is an essential survival guide for the new or soon to be homeless.   Life boils down to basics when you are homeless.  Let Humble Harv help make your tragedy into a fun filled romp.  On second thought, let's not get our hopes up.  Still, you'll be drier and eat more often !


 
 
 
 
  Yes, it's the first handbook for the homeless written by the homeless. In this case, your humble servant.  Before I continue let me make a few things perfectly clear.   Yes, I am homeless, living, so-to-speak, in So. California.  No, this isn't a joke,   I don't find my situation or homelessness in general to be fun or funny.  'Cuz it ain't.   However, maintaining a sense of humor has been about the only thing that's kept me from taking a long, cold, swim.  Believe me, I have thought about it. Try to remember that if you are among the humor impaired.
All the lessons and tips contained here are very real and sadly serious. Learned by yours truly through painful experience, observation or listening to tales from other pioneers on the homeless frontier.


  My intentions in writing this are two-fold.  First, to provide a perspective that  you are unlikely to find elsewhere.  You can read all the facts, figures and statistics you want, but a first hand account is in many cases far more enlightening.  It' an experience that has certainly been an eye opener for me.  So,  I offer these writings in part as a genuine survival guide and a means to shed some light on exactly what it means to be homeless and the day-to-day challenges faced by the homeless.   Also, to a lesser degree a social commentary.  Frankly, considering the wealth and talent available in this nation it is a disgrace, let me repeat, a DISGRACE, that there should be homeless people on our streets.
 Secondly, to attempt to secure employment.  Huh?  Employment?  Don't I mean handout?  Donation? Hey buddy gotta quarter?  No, I mean employment.  You know, a J-O-B.  A novel concept where I bring my skills and services to bear in another's employ thereby increasing their profits.  In exchange they give me money.    A job.
  Accordingly, there is no means on this site for you to send me anything.
No mailing address (Even if I had one.), no PayPal etc.  Nothing.  You will find an email address for those who can make offers in regards to potential employment or have questions,  but that is all. 
  I make a special point of the above because there is at least one enterprising (IMHO) con-artist/panhandler who seeks "donations" via his blog.  Ain't technology grand?  Cyber Panhandling!
  A final observation and thought on this before I move on.  On his site, which he didn't even build,  he mentions having several job offers that "I'm probably not qualified for."  Huh?
If someone makes me a genuine job offer with a living wage, qualified or not, I'll make myself qualified and more.  Seems to me all he has done is furnish further proof that a panhandler looking for work is an oxymoron. 

 With that said, you won't be surprised to find very little in the way of poor, poor, pitiful me prose.  I'm not looking for pity, I'm looking for opportunity.
Trust me, I feel plenty sorry for myself without spreading it around.

  Furthermore, wrapping the pity of others around me like a nice warm crying towel does nothing to achieve my goals.  I will, one way or another, climb out of this pit I've fallen into.  I will fight my way back to the kind of life I had before.  I will resume the pursuit of my goals and dreams.  I will keeping scraping, pushing, pounding and clawing until I succeed.  Failure is not an option and I will not be defeated.

 

For those of you just searching for homeless statistics, or homeless facts etc.  I've provided the handy facts link above.  Ain't I grand? This site is more along the lines of personal experience in coping with homelessness and surviving homelessness.  I'm not sure what California's homeless statistics are but from what I've seen there are plenty of homeless even here in Orange County.  But I digress, more about the topics:
Here are the topics already posted and those planned for the future. 


                                            Homeless Chic:  Hygiene and Appearance
                                             Where do I lay me down to sleep?
                                            Fine Homeless Dining
                                            Scouting and TABS (To Avoid Being Seen)
                                            It's the journey not the destination; Getting around.
                                            Urban Outfitting;  Obtaining Supplies
                                            Money?  What money?
                                            What if I get sick?  You gonna die.
                                            Trying to find work; The Catch-22
                                            Scum !  You, the law, and society at large.
                                            Highway to the Danger Zone;  Street Life
                                            Services available, such as they are.

                             
  One 'topic' not listed that I will in time address, is what I believe is wrong with current 'solutions' to the homeless problem.  Of specific interest is the apparent fact that most homeless services are 1)  Far too centralized, and 2) geared almost exclusively for the chronic homeless while having next to nothing to offer the individual (like myself) who hit a deep pot hole in the road of life and wants to get back on the road.   I never point out a problem without offering possible solutions, so naturally I'll detail those solutions as well.

 I will also cover panhandling and why you should NEVER give money to a panhandler.  This is not to say you can't or shouldn't give money to the homeless, just not panhandlers.  The hows, whys and wherefores.

And of course, I'll be happy to answer your questions as best I can. 

 

 

PART TWO , ENTITLED :   

 

Just because you are homeless doesn't mean you should be homely....

 Do you know the primary reason that the general public tends to think of the homeless as being smelly and icky?
                                           Because they are.
That's why your first priority as the newly minted homeless should be appearance and hygiene.  Yeah, that's right, appearance.  Think you've got bigger things to worry about?  Wrong!  Appearance and hygiene, or rather the painful lack of same,  is one of the prime reasons your company isn't welcome.  Nobody wants to be around dirty, stinky people.  Got it?  Good.   Here's a stale cookie for you.
  Make no mistake, staying clean and maintaining a civil appearance can be a nightmare.  I know.  Doubly so if your situation forces you to become a 'bush-baby' at night to get some sleep.  What most people take for granted every morning may take you, the intrepid camper, half a day to accomplish.  Still, unless you like your present situation or can convince people you are a French national, you'd better make the effort.
  Staying clean and somewhat presentable not only helps you stay healthy, but allows you to move amongst the mundane with nary a sidelong glance, up-turned nose or hassle.  As you will discover, this is a priceless key to elegant homeless living.  And don't you deserve the very best?


  Except for the time involved, keeping yo nasty self clean is probably the easiest part about Extreme Camping.  Unlike food or shelter, places to clean up are plentiful.  All public buildings have that fancy new fangled indoor plumbing,  or restroom for the rest of us yokels.  And I'll be darned if some clever rascal hasn't done gone and put soap in there too!  A sink and towel bath may not be that refreshing but it's a lot better than being dirty.
  Here's another idea if you live near a lake or beach.  Jump in!  Or maybe not, after all the idea is to get clean.   Fortunately there are often public showers available there.  Granted, it's cold water.  Most people view cold water showers with the same enthusiasm they reserve for root canal and rashes.  Still, it is a shower, and as you will have hammered into your pointy little noggin, cleanlieness is everything.  But wait!  It gets even better.  If you happen to be near a university or jr. college.... Ahhh Bonus!  I think I just saw the lightbulb go on over your head.

  Here's another point that is very very important.  If you are a man, you must shave everyday.  EVERYDAY.  Not shaving on weekends is a luxury reserved for people with a place to live.  So shave, even if this means using a dull razor.  It will still work, it just takes longer.  Again, I know this from experience.
  "But why why why?  I've had a beard since I was six."  you say.
Tough.  Stop whinning, it's gotta go.   Even for guys not facing your challenges, keeping a beard from looking like a rat's nest is a chore.  It doesn't matter what some drunken trailer troll once told you, the ZZ Top look was never sexy or presentable.  Trust me, neither the girls nor anyone else goes crazy over a homeless man, or that mess.
  Here's another important reason for shaving.  Do a quick inventory of your wardrobe.  Not much there huh?  As you will be/are sleeping in your clothes and washing them (more on laundry in the future) frequently and brutally, they are going to begin to look worn out faster.  At this point even a neatly trimmed beard fails.  So shave.  Everyday.  It's part of the package and you can grow it back when you're life has stabilized.

 Now, if you are worried about people seeing you performing your daily cleaning rituals, congratulations, you should be.  The vast majority of people are going to be less than thrilled to see you doing this.  The obvious solution then is To Avoid Being Seen.  Who'da thunk it?  This means careful timing and scouting (remember the word scouting, you'll be seeing a lot more of it).  Do your clean up when the flow of people is at its lowest.  If you have the college shower option available, being seen isn't as critical but you still want to maintain a low profile.  Try to hit the showers right after classes begin.  Usually about 10 minutes past the hour.
 If you are fortunate enough to have access to a restroom with a locking door, use it, but remember that timing is still important.  Though you won't have to worry about someone walking in, you don't want a line of people waiting for YOU.  Remember, you are homeless.  Your tolerance/slack quota from the general public is nigh about zero.

 So.  You've done your scouting, you've timed it out, you're inside and ready to go.  Now what?  First of all common sense.  If you are taking your street bubble bath in a salle de bain without a locking door, for the love of God don't drop trou' in front of the sink and hope nobody walks in.  There is a word for a person who does this:   Jackass.
If the restroom doesn't have a locking door, use the stall to clean your naughty bits.  Furthermore, you should wash yourself in stages.      This means don't get all nekid.
Wash each area separately, keeping the remainder of your clothes on.  If you have personal grooming supplies, keep them in your bag unless you are using them.  Don't have it all spread out all over the place.  You observe these precautions because someone might walk in.  Seriously bad Ju-Ju.  If someone does walk in on you, the appropriate response is to STOP what you are doing and vacate as quickly as possible.  The above mentioned practices help facilitate a quick exit.

 What you should NOT DO is cop an attitude or brass it out and go on as if they hadn't walked in.  Or act as if there was nothing unusual about bathing in a sink.  It's VERY unusual!  Unusual things get people's attention.  These people might very well then complain.  Complaints can lead to actions.  Actions like you being asked to leave and not return.  Or the police being called.  Or any number of other things that might tend to spoil your personal poverty party.
 Remember, in the pecking order of life, right now household pets and flowering plants rank higher than you. (That is no exaggeration, if you type in - Orange County  homeless - on Google, the number one hit is for Homeless Pets)
Yes, you are only performing a function essential to human dignity, but perforce you are doing so as an interloper.  I don't say these things to shatter the remnants of your self-esteem.  I say these things as a reminder to do constant reality checks.  Reality checks that will help you to avoid making things worse than they are.  Sort of like, umm, Tough Love!  Aww shucks, come on, group hug.

 A final point.  Once you have finished cleaning yourself, clean the restroom as well.  Repeat after me:  Puddles on floor, hair in sink BAAAD.  Neat and clean GOOOD.  Got it?
Give yourself another stale cookie. 
 If you don't leave a mess, and you are as quick as possible in the restroom there is a fair chance that a) you won't be noticed, or b) the proprietor might turn a blind eye to your activities.  Besides, it's just plain common courtesy.
  Leave a mess, use up all the paper towels, tie up the restroom and I guarantee it won't be long before you are looking for another place to clean up.

Okay, that's it for our first lesson in becoming HC (Homeless Chic).  Our next topic is, "Where do I lay me down to sleep?" Which in some respects is at first (second and third too) the most frightening aspect of joining Club Homeless.

By this stage you should be overflowing with questions, all of which I will be happy to answer.  Even the stupid ones.  Yes Virginia, there are stupid questions.  No worries though, I'll answer anyway.  In fact, that's part of the fun of this site.  Your questions mold future topics.  I know what you're thinking.... "tight".  And well you should, I'm a clever little monkey.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a stale cookie waiting for me.
  
 Gee a home.  I sort of remember what that was like.
Wish I had one to go BACK to. 

|  This page created with 40% post-consumer recycled materials.  |

 

PART THREE ENTITLED : 

Where Do I Lay Me Down to Sleep ?

*Be certain to read  the chapter on scouting and TABS.  This really should be the companion chapter to this one.*

 The lucky homeless still have their cars.  Oh such luck.  And really, on the pecking order of the homeless, those with cars are right near the top.  See?   Even the homeless have their own brand of snobbery.  They still face many of the challenges of being homeless,  but they at least retain some degree of mobility and a place to sleep and store clothes etc.  Regardless, though to a lesser extent, you will need to find a place to sleep, you upper crust Extreme Camper you.
 In most cities it is illegal for you to sleep in your car.  If you do, you will get hassled etc.  So where do you park to avoid or minimize hassles?  First off, you can absolutely forget about public parks.  It might be the first thought to come to your head but guess what my little homeless learner?  It's the first thought that comes to everybody's head.  Parks are frequently patrolled by the local police, not just because of you, the homeless, but also because of the fact that kids gravitate to them for many of their 'activities'.  i.e. Smoking, drinking, fucking, and graffiti or vandalism if they can't do one of the first three activities.
  Most industrial parks and shopping centers etc. aren't much better. These are the areas that the police are truly hired to protect and serve.  They are regularly patrolled and you will be noticed and hassled.
So where can you go?
There are a number of places that can be made to work.  However you MUST scout (There's that word scouting again) them first.  Don't actually sleep, just hang out and notice the flow of people and traffic.  Is there anything nearby that would commonly cause attention to be drawn to your vicinity?  What's the lighting like?  Kids around?  Other homeless?  Cul-d-sac??  Use common sense and let your instincts be your guide.  Much of what you decide will be based on the strategy you adopt.  Basically there are two strategies, herd and hermit.  The herd strategy relies on you being able to get lost in the crowd, while the hermit strategy requires as little contact with others as possible.  Both have their pros and cons, and the truth of the matter is you will undoubtedly use a combination of both.  But always scout ahead.  This isn't fool proof of course, but it will tend to minimize your risks.  So with that said, lets take a look at your deluxe street side accommodations.

A dark section of a residential neighborhood.
 This is a good option if done correctly.  Here are a couple of hints and things to remember though.  First, when parking make sure you park exactly between houses.  That is to say make sure that half your car lies parallel with one house, the other half parallel with their next door neighbor.  Why?  Attend and be amazed.
 Because people generally know what cars are parked on their streets. They certainly know what cars to expect parked in front of their own house.  In fact some people get positively territorial and will actively inspect any vehicle parked in front of their homes.  So, by parking right in the middle you allow both neighbors to assume that your vehicle is in fact the other neighbor's guest.  Oh the sublime joy! Applied social engineering can be fun!
 Important anti-hassle tip: No matter where you park, even though it may be cold and even raining, you must leave some windows cracked open in the car.  This is to prevent or minimize interior fogging of the windows.  Fogging is a dead give-away from the outside and will always draw attention.  Especially from police.  Yes yes yes, some evening you might get lucky and have dew condense on the windows which would hide the fogging from the inside.  But guess what Urban Camper?  That dew takes a lot longer to condense than it does for you to fog the windows from the inside, so again, its a dead give-away. 
 During summer you won't be as prone to fogging, but you'll probably need to keep the windows open wider and longer just because of the temperature.  This turns into a real blood sucking thrill because mosquitoes are in large part attracted by heat and carbon dioxide.  Both of these will be streaming from you and your car in huge concentrated quantities.  It's very much like ringing a dinner bell. Yum.  Can you say West Nile Virus?  Gooood.  Can you say Encephalitis?  Nice try.  Tomorrow we'll have a nice visit with the man from Vector Control.
  Do you want a quiet street or a busy street?  Yes. 
There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Obviously on a quiet street there will be fewer people to observe you and you are more likely to get a good nights rest (In as much is that is possible under the circumstances)  However, you will stand out more and be more readily recognized as something different.
 On the busy street you will certainly blend in far more readily.  You're far less likely to attract attention by your mere presence.  The flip side of that coin is you are more likely to be observed by someone, including police, and the noise etc. makes it more difficult to rest.
 A final note on neighborhood parking.  No matter where you decide to park the best you can hope for is a couple of nights in a row… especially on the quiet street.  If you want to avoid being hassled by the police, and I assume you do, you have to find a new spot every few nights.  A strange vehicle on the street will eventually cause people to talk and usually sooner rather than later.  Also its only a matter of time before someone sees you sleeping.  Remember that camper.  It's not a matter of IF, but WHEN.  If you stay in one place long enough you WILL be seen.  Sucks to be you. 
 Which also brings up another point.  Blocking the windows.  If your car has tinted windows then hurray for you, its one less thing to worry about.  If not, it's fine to put up a sunscreen on the windshield but that's it.  Blocking all the side windows and rear window with other 'stuff' is like putting a sign on the roof that says, "Someone is sleeping in here". Bad Ju-Ju for you.

More Temporary layovers for the vehicular urban adventurist.

 Here's one for the bold, but the psychology of the idea is sound. Park in a quite corner of a police station or courthouse parking lot.  It relies on the fact that many times the police (usually for good reason) don't check things out THAT close to home.  Do your scouting first, but in general it can be a good and reasonably safe place to be.

Parking structures.
 These can be a very good place to go but they too have there good points and bad points.  If youve scouted the location properly  you already know if they have rent-a-cops on duty.  Don't scoff at the rent-a-cop.  True they are mostly just there as a form of mental masturbation for those that hired them, yet still they know how to use a phone just as well as you do.  So lets assume that there are no security guards and the gates are left open during the off hours.  Or in some cases they open automatically very early in the morning to allow customers to enter before the hired staff arrives.  They are also rarely patrolled by regular police. Bonus!  Dance a Happy Homeless Dance.   This can be a great place to sleep because you don't have to worry about suspicious neighbors.  However being the only car in the structure makes you not only memorable and conspicuous, but a target for bored teenagers and the occasional car thief.  A variant on this theme is the hotel self parking area, again with proper scouting, this can be a very good place to park.  See below.

Hotel Parking Lots
Can be a surprisingly good place.  Careful scouting is as usual important.  But if they have a fair flow of traffic and minimal security, this can work.  Truck stop type hotels are ideal in this situation. 

Roadside Rest Stops
Fine for a night or two but no more, the CHP or local equivalent patrol these zones regularly and dat da name o dat tune.

WHAT, NO CAR?

 The sad fact is, that it has often been costly automobile repairs combined with job loss, illness etc.  that cause a person to become homeless in the first place.  And that is an awful moment.  The first night, no car, probably just the clothes on your back and maybe what you could shove into a back pack, and nowhere to go or to sleep.  Where am I going to sleep tonight?  This is the one that really cuts to the bone.
Okay, you can try to find a shelter, and if you can manage to walk there and if they have space available and if you can stand the utterly dehumanizing environment, you might have taken care of that problem for one night.  But take note that there are a lot of 'ifs' involved in that last sentence.
 So.  What IF (and it's likely) a shelter isn't an option.  Now what? 

-Busnapping.  No this doesn't have anything to do with kidnapping or hijacking a bus.  Nobody would pay the ransom anyway.  If you can scrape up enough money for an all day bus pass, you can get on a 24 route and try to catch a little sleep that way.

Advantages:  Dry, relatively safe, buses are heated and air conditioned.
Disadvantages:  Costs money that you might need for food.  Difficult to sleep sitting up.  Most of the time you are kicked off the bus at turn-around and must wait for the driver's break to end or the next bus to come.  Also some day passes expire around 2-3 in the morning.  Meaning you either get another pass or get off… since you're broke, it really means get off the bus… just hope it's not raining.

-Park or Bus Bench

Advantages:  You aren't sleeping directly on the ground.  At least you are laying down.  Park and bus benches are fairly numerous.
Disadvantages:  Completely exposed to weather in most cases. You will get rousted.  You will get harassed.  You will get chased off.  If you are lucky enough to have a blanket you cannot use it because most cities have these compassionate laws that say one cannot cover themselves with a blanket in public.  I won't bother to list the litany of pathetic 'reasons' for these laws.  The fact is they are aimed at YOU the homeless.  The city leaders don't want you around.  Period.  Any tactic to discourage you from being in THEIR city WILL be employed.  -Does it suck to be you or what?

-Abandoned buildings

Advantages:  Perhaps not as likely to be rousted by authorities. Usually very little traffic from the mundanes.
Disadvantages:  Generally unsafe and dangerous, sometimes a magnet for other homeless or kids.


-Under the over pass.
 Ah, the classic.  Become a bridge troll. 
Advantages: reasonably dry, some protection from wind. Quite a few locations.  Minor hassle potential in many locations.
Disadvantages:  Cold, dirty, LOUD, attracts other campers.  Also very low, shall we say, coffin like, overhead on what I like to call the sleeping lip.  That's the flat area near the top.  You know,  your new home.  Better run out and get curtains.


-Become a Bush Baby.
Advantages:  Vast number of locations.  Easy to find quite, dark area.
Disadvantages.  No protection from weather at all.  Dirtier than the underpass even.

-The electrical transformer is your friend.
This is sort of a subset of bush baby, and like bush babies you'll have no protection from rain.  However the advantage is that them thar transformers can sometimes be pretty darn warm… ergo so will you.

-To the restroom!
Many small office buildings, especially older ones have exterior public restrooms.
Advantages:  If you can find one that you can access this is really a great place, especially the upper floor restrooms because they are warmer in winter.  Also you have a convenient ready made place to clean up and use the facilities.  Very much one stop shopping.
Disadvantages:  Janitors and people walking in.  You may not be able to bed down till late and you'll certainly need to rise and leave very early in the morning to avoid discovery.

-Vacant homes and apartments
On first blush they seem like the best of the best, but the risks really far outweigh any potential benefits.  For one thing, you know that on any given evening you could return to find the residence now occupied.  Late at night is bad time to have to search for a place to sleep.  Also, if you are caught, it is unlikely you will be simply shooed off.  Though most of your Extreme Camping options technically involve trespassing, unlike the others, chances are you'll be going to jail on this one… life sucks in the streets but jail is worse.  Maybe that would make a nice bumper sticker.  The worst day homeless is better than the best day in jail.  It's up to you, but ol' Harv's advice is to never do anything that's likely to land you in jail.  Notice I said likely.  Simply being homeless is enough to possibly land you in jail… just not likely.  Don't do anything to raise a possible to a likely.

-Trains Planes and Bus Stations
Bus stations, airports and the like… places with people 24 hours… might work for a night or two but security will eventually give you the heave-ho.  Use these only if you have to… for instance if the rains have turned your bush bed into a water bed.

-In the dumpster
Come on now.  Better to just stay awake tonight.


Lets pause a moment to review:
    It sucks to be you.

 Moving right along, there are still a few related tips that you need to know about.  The big one is the late night potty break.  Hey, it happens to everyone and if there is no restroom nearby then ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  BUT, that doesn't mean you have to disengage the brain.  A big I Hate The Homeless rationale is the FACT, not belief, but fact, that so many of my fellow urban adventurists think they are cats out scent marking.  When nature calls, here are some do's and don'ts.  Do if possible have a large tinkle bottle (with cap please) handy to use.  Don't  empty it anywhere except a toilet.  If for some stupid reason you don't have a bottle....Do find an out of the way, little travelled spot.  Don't  make wee wee near ANY doors etc.  In fact, not near anyplace a person is likely to be.  Places like out by the dumpster maybe?  This may be your supermarket soon, so you certainly don't want to relieve yourself there.
 Do look for a patch of bare dirt.  Don't tinkle on the plants and especially lawns.  Your wee wee contains a little something called Uric Acid.  This acid will burn lawns and kill plants dead.  This is a no-no and seriously bad Ju-Ju.  Do look for a puddle of water or better still, running water etc.  Don't (for you guys) piss on the walls... it stains.  Or concrete... same deal AND the odor lingers in either case.
    "But I gots to take a poo Jen-ny."
Did I mention that it sucks to be you?
Not much in the way of options here, Extreme Camper.  Use a bag.  Just because dogs poop on lawns is no excuse for you to. 

Also another point here.  Like our restroom visits to clean up, we ideally want to leave no trace of our ever having been there.  This along with being common courtesy is also in line with the TABS strategy.  More on TABS at a later date.

Alrighty then.  That about covers this thrilling topic.  Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.  Oh, no bed.
Well then.  No bed, no bugs!
See?  Another unexpected advantage to Extreme Camping!

Next time:  Fine Homeless Dining, or why mold can be yummy.
Till then, Take Care

 I don't profess that the above is a complete list of stylish homeless accomodations but it should give you a broad overview of the possibilities and with any luck keep you a little drier. 

| This page created with popcicle sticks and glue |

 

 

 

PART  FOUR ENTITLED :

Fine Homeless Dining

 

 

Just because you are homeless doesn't mean you should be homely....

 Do you know the primary reason that the general public tends to think of the homeless as being smelly and icky?
                                           Because they are.
That's why your first priority as the newly minted homeless should be appearance and hygiene.  Yeah, that's right, appearance.  Think you've got bigger things to worry about?  Wrong!  Appearance and hygiene, or rather the painful lack of same,  is one of the prime reasons your company isn't welcome.  Nobody wants to be around dirty, stinky people.  Got it?  Good.   Here's a stale cookie for you.
  Make no mistake, staying clean and maintaining a civil appearance can be a nightmare.  I know.  Doubly so if your situation forces you to become a 'bush-baby' at night to get some sleep.  What most people take for granted every morning may take you, the intrepid camper, half a day to accomplish.  Still, unless you like your present situation or can convince people you are a French national, you'd better make the effort.
  Staying clean and somewhat presentable not only helps you stay healthy, but allows you to move amongst the mundane with nary a sidelong glance, up-turned nose or hassle.  As you will discover, this is a priceless key to elegant homeless living.  And don't you deserve the very best?


  Except for the time involved, keeping yo nasty self clean is probably the easiest part about Extreme Camping.  Unlike food or shelter, places to clean up are plentiful.  All public buildings have that fancy new fangled indoor plumbing,  or restroom for the rest of us yokels.  And I'll be darned if some clever rascal hasn't done gone and put soap in there too!  A sink and towel bath may not be that refreshing but it's a lot better than being dirty.
  Here's another idea if you live near a lake or beach.  Jump in!  Or maybe not, after all the idea is to get clean.   Fortunately there are often public showers available there.  Granted, it's cold water.  Most people view cold water showers with the same enthusiasm they reserve for root canal and rashes.  Still, it is a shower, and as you will have hammered into your pointy little noggin, cleanlieness is everything.  But wait!  It gets even better.  If you happen to be near a university or jr. college.... Ahhh Bonus!  I think I just saw the lightbulb go on over your head.

  Here's another point that is very very important.  If you are a man, you must shave everyday.  EVERYDAY.  Not shaving on weekends is a luxury reserved for people with a place to live.  So shave, even if this means using a dull razor.  It will still work, it just takes longer.  Again, I know this from experience.
  "But why why why?  I've had a beard since I was six."  you say.
Tough.  Stop whinning, it's gotta go.   Even for guys not facing your challenges, keeping a beard from looking like a rat's nest is a chore.  It doesn't matter what some drunken trailer troll once told you, the ZZ Top look was never sexy or presentable.  Trust me, neither the girls nor anyone else goes crazy over a homeless man, or that mess.
  Here's another important reason for shaving.  Do a quick inventory of your wardrobe.  Not much there huh?  As you will be/are sleeping in your clothes and washing them (more on laundry in the future) frequently and brutally, they are going to begin to look worn out faster.  At this point even a neatly trimmed beard fails.  So shave.  Everyday.  It's part of the package and you can grow it back when you're life has stabilized.

 Now, if you are worried about people seeing you performing your daily cleaning rituals, congratulations, you should be.  The vast majority of people are going to be less than thrilled to see you doing this.  The obvious solution then is To Avoid Being Seen.  Who'da thunk it?  This means careful timing and scouting (remember the word scouting, you'll be seeing a lot more of it).  Do your clean up when the flow of people is at its lowest.  If you have the college shower option available, being seen isn't as critical but you still want to maintain a low profile.  Try to hit the showers right after classes begin.  Usually about 10 minutes past the hour.
 If you are fortunate enough to have access to a restroom with a locking door, use it, but remember that timing is still important.  Though you won't have to worry about someone walking in, you don't want a line of people waiting for YOU.  Remember, you are homeless.  Your tolerance/slack quota from the general public is nigh about zero.

 So.  You've done your scouting, you've timed it out, you're inside and ready to go.  Now what?  First of all common sense.  If you are taking your street bubble bath in a salle de bain without a locking door, for the love of God don't drop trou' in front of the sink and hope nobody walks in.  There is a word for a person who does this:   Jackass.
If the restroom doesn't have a locking door, use the stall to clean your naughty bits.  Furthermore, you should wash yourself in stages.      This means don't get all nekid.
Wash each area separately, keeping the remainder of your clothes on.  If you have personal grooming supplies, keep them in your bag unless you are using them.  Don't have it all spread out all over the place.  You observe these precautions because someone might walk in.  Seriously bad Ju-Ju.  If someone does walk in on you, the appropriate response is to STOP what you are doing and vacate as quickly as possible.  The above mentioned practices help facilitate a quick exit.

 What you should NOT DO is cop an attitude or brass it out and go on as if they hadn't walked in.  Or act as if there was nothing unusual about bathing in a sink.  It's VERY unusual!  Unusual things get people's attention.  These people might very well then complain.  Complaints can lead to actions.  Actions like you being asked to leave and not return.  Or the police being called.  Or any number of other things that might tend to spoil your personal poverty party.
 Remember, in the pecking order of life, right now household pets and flowering plants rank higher than you. (That is no exaggeration, if you type in - Orange County  homeless - on Google, the number one hit is for Homeless Pets)
Yes, you are only performing a function essential to human dignity, but perforce you are doing so as an interloper.  I don't say these things to shatter the remnants of your self-esteem.  I say these things as a reminder to do constant reality checks.  Reality checks that will help you to avoid making things worse than they are.  Sort of like, umm, Tough Love!  Aww shucks, come on, group hug.

 A final point.  Once you have finished cleaning yourself, clean the restroom as well.  Repeat after me:  Puddles on floor, hair in sink BAAAD.  Neat and clean GOOOD.  Got it?
Give yourself another stale cookie. 
 If you don't leave a mess, and you are as quick as possible in the restroom there is a fair chance that a) you won't be noticed, or b) the proprietor might turn a blind eye to your activities.  Besides, it's just plain common courtesy.
  Leave a mess, use up all the paper towels, tie up the restroom and I guarantee it won't be long before you are looking for another place to clean up.

Okay, that's it for our first lesson in becoming HC (Homeless Chic).  Our next topic is, "Where do I lay me down to sleep?" Which in some respects is at first (second and third too) the most frightening aspect of joining Club Homeless.

By this stage you should be overflowing with questions, all of which I will be happy to answer.  Even the stupid ones.  Yes Virginia, there are stupid questions.  No worries though, I'll answer anyway.  In fact, that's part of the fun of this site.  Your questions mold future topics.  I know what you're thinking.... "tight".  And well you should, I'm a clever little monkey.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a stale cookie waiting for me.
  
 Gee a home.  I sort of remember what that was like.
Wish I had one to go BACK to. 
BACK
|  This page created with 40% post-consumer recycled materials.  |

 

 

 

 

 

Just because you are homeless doesn't mean you should be homely....

 Do you know the primary reason that the general public tends to think of the homeless as being smelly and icky?
                                           Because they are.
That's why your first priority as the newly minted homeless should be appearance and hygiene.  Yeah, that's right, appearance.  Think you've got bigger things to worry about?  Wrong!  Appearance and hygiene, or rather the painful lack of same,  is one of the prime reasons your company isn't welcome.  Nobody wants to be around dirty, stinky people.  Got it?  Good.   Here's a stale cookie for you.
  Make no mistake, staying clean and maintaining a civil appearance can be a nightmare.  I know.  Doubly so if your situation forces you to become a 'bush-baby' at night to get some sleep.  What most people take for granted every morning may take you, the intrepid camper, half a day to accomplish.  Still, unless you like your present situation or can convince people you are a French national, you'd better make the effort.
  Staying clean and somewhat presentable not only helps you stay healthy, but allows you to move amongst the mundane with nary a sidelong glance, up-turned nose or hassle.  As you will discover, this is a priceless key to elegant homeless living.  And don't you deserve the very best?


  Except for the time involved, keeping yo nasty self clean is probably the easiest part about Extreme Camping.  Unlike food or shelter, places to clean up are plentiful.  All public buildings have that fancy new fangled indoor plumbing,  or restroom for the rest of us yokels.  And I'll be darned if some clever rascal hasn't done gone and put soap in there too!  A sink and towel bath may not be that refreshing but it's a lot better than being dirty.
  Here's another idea if you live near a lake or beach.  Jump in!  Or maybe not, after all the idea is to get clean.   Fortunately there are often public showers available there.  Granted, it's cold water.  Most people view cold water showers with the same enthusiasm they reserve for root canal and rashes.  Still, it is a shower, and as you will have hammered into your pointy little noggin, cleanlieness is everything.  But wait!  It gets even better.  If you happen to be near a university or jr. college.... Ahhh Bonus!  I think I just saw the lightbulb go on over your head.

  Here's another point that is very very important.  If you are a man, you must shave everyday.  EVERYDAY.  Not shaving on weekends is a luxury reserved for people with a place to live.  So shave, even if this means using a dull razor.  It will still work, it just takes longer.  Again, I know this from experience.
  "But why why why?  I've had a beard since I was six."  you say.
Tough.  Stop whinning, it's gotta go.   Even for guys not facing your challenges, keeping a beard from looking like a rat's nest is a chore.  It doesn't matter what some drunken trailer troll once told you, the ZZ Top look was never sexy or presentable.  Trust me, neither the girls nor anyone else goes crazy over a homeless man, or that mess.
  Here's another important reason for shaving.  Do a quick inventory of your wardrobe.  Not much there huh?  As you will be/are sleeping in your clothes and washing them (more on laundry in the future) frequently and brutally, they are going to begin to look worn out faster.  At this point even a neatly trimmed beard fails.  So shave.  Everyday.  It's part of the package and you can grow it back when you're life has stabilized.

 Now, if you are worried about people seeing you performing your daily cleaning rituals, congratulations, you should be.  The vast majority of people are going to be less than thrilled to see you doing this.  The obvious solution then is To Avoid Being Seen.  Who'da thunk it?  This means careful timing and scouting (remember the word scouting, you'll be seeing a lot more of it).  Do your clean up when the flow of people is at its lowest.  If you have the college shower option available, being seen isn't as critical but you still want to maintain a low profile.  Try to hit the showers right after classes begin.  Usually about 10 minutes past the hour.
 If you are fortunate enough to have access to a restroom with a locking door, use it, but remember that timing is still important.  Though you won't have to worry about someone walking in, you don't want a line of people waiting for YOU.  Remember, you are homeless.  Your tolerance/slack quota from the general public is nigh about zero.

 So.  You've done your scouting, you've timed it out, you're inside and ready to go.  Now what?  First of all common sense.  If you are taking your street bubble bath in a salle de bain without a locking door, for the love of God don't drop trou' in front of the sink and hope nobody walks in.  There is a word for a person who does this:   Jackass.
If the restroom doesn't have a locking door, use the stall to clean your naughty bits.  Furthermore, you should wash yourself in stages.      This means don't get all nekid.
Wash each area separately, keeping the remainder of your clothes on.  If you have personal grooming supplies, keep them in your bag unless you are using them.  Don't have it all spread out all over the place.  You observe these precautions because someone might walk in.  Seriously bad Ju-Ju.  If someone does walk in on you, the appropriate response is to STOP what you are doing and vacate as quickly as possible.  The above mentioned practices help facilitate a quick exit.

 What you should NOT DO is cop an attitude or brass it out and go on as if they hadn't walked in.  Or act as if there was nothing unusual about bathing in a sink.  It's VERY unusual!  Unusual things get people's attention.  These people might very well then complain.  Complaints can lead to actions.  Actions like you being asked to leave and not return.  Or the police being called.  Or any number of other things that might tend to spoil your personal poverty party.
 Remember, in the pecking order of life, right now household pets and flowering plants rank higher than you. (That is no exaggeration, if you type in - Orange County  homeless - on Google, the number one hit is for Homeless Pets)
Yes, you are only performing a function essential to human dignity, but perforce you are doing so as an interloper.  I don't say these things to shatter the remnants of your self-esteem.  I say these things as a reminder to do constant reality checks.  Reality checks that will help you to avoid making things worse than they are.  Sort of like, umm, Tough Love!  Aww shucks, come on, group hug.

 A final point.  Once you have finished cleaning yourself, clean the restroom as well.  Repeat after me:  Puddles on floor, hair in sink BAAAD.  Neat and clean GOOOD.  Got it?
Give yourself another stale cookie. 
 If you don't leave a mess, and you are as quick as possible in the restroom there is a fair chance that a) you won't be noticed, or b) the proprietor might turn a blind eye to your activities.  Besides, it's just plain common courtesy.
  Leave a mess, use up all the paper towels, tie up the restroom and I guarantee it won't be long before you are looking for another place to clean up.

Okay, that's it for our first lesson in becoming HC (Homeless Chic).  Our next topic is, "Where do I lay me down to sleep?" Which in some respects is at first (second and third too) the most frightening aspect of joining Club Homeless.

By this stage you should be overflowing with questions, all of which I will be happy to answer.  Even the stupid ones.  Yes Virginia, there are stupid questions.  No worries though, I'll answer anyway.  In fact, that's part of the fun of this site.  Your questions mold future topics.  I know what you're thinking.... "tight".  And well you should, I'm a clever little monkey.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a stale cookie waiting for me.
  


Gee a home.  I sort of remember what that was like.
Wish I had one to go BACK to. 

BACK

|  This page created with 40% post-consumer recycled materials.  |

 


 
*Be certain to read  the chapter on scouting and TABS.  This really should be the companion chapter to this one.*

 The lucky homeless still have their cars.  Oh such luck.  And really, on the pecking order of the homeless, those with cars are right near the top.  See?   Even the homeless have their own brand of snobbery.  They still face many of the challenges of being homeless,  but they at least retain some degree of mobility and a place to sleep and store clothes etc.  Regardless, though to a lesser extent, you will need to find a place to sleep, you upper crust Extreme Camper you.
 In most cities it is illegal for you to sleep in your car.  If you do, you will get hassled etc.  So where do you park to avoid or minimize hassles?  First off, you can absolutely forget about public parks.  It might be the first thought to come to your head but guess what my little homeless learner?  It's the first thought that comes to everybody's head.  Parks are frequently patrolled by the local police, not just because of you, the homeless, but also because of the fact that kids gravitate to them for many of their 'activities'.  i.e. Smoking, drinking, fucking, and graffiti or vandalism if they can't do one of the first three activities.
  Most industrial parks and shopping centers etc. aren't much better. These are the areas that the police are truly hired to protect and serve.  They are regularly patrolled and you will be noticed and hassled.
So where can you go?
There are a number of places that can be made to work.  However you MUST scout (There's that word scouting again) them first.  Don't actually sleep, just hang out and notice the flow of people and traffic.  Is there anything nearby that would commonly cause attention to be drawn to your vicinity?  What's the lighting like?  Kids around?  Other homeless?  Cul-d-sac??  Use common sense and let your instincts be your guide.  Much of what you decide will be based on the strategy you adopt.  Basically there are two strategies, herd and hermit.  The herd strategy relies on you being able to get lost in the crowd, while the hermit strategy requires as little contact with others as possible.  Both have their pros and cons, and the truth of the matter is you will undoubtedly use a combination of both.  But always scout ahead.  This isn't fool proof of course, but it will tend to minimize your risks.  So with that said, lets take a look at your deluxe street side accommodations.

A dark section of a residential neighborhood.
 This is a good option if done correctly.  Here are a couple of hints and things to remember though.  First, when parking make sure you park exactly between houses.  That is to say make sure that half your car lies parallel with one house, the other half parallel with their next door neighbor.  Why?  Attend and be amazed.
 Because people generally know what cars are parked on their streets. They certainly know what cars to expect parked in front of their own house.  In fact some people get positively territorial and will actively inspect any vehicle parked in front of their homes.  So, by parking right in the middle you allow both neighbors to assume that your vehicle is in fact the other neighbor's guest.  Oh the sublime joy! Applied social engineering can be fun!
 Important anti-hassle tip: No matter where you park, even though it may be cold and even raining, you must leave some windows cracked open in the car.  This is to prevent or minimize interior fogging of the windows.  Fogging is a dead give-away from the outside and will always draw attention.  Especially from police.  Yes yes yes, some evening you might get lucky and have dew condense on the windows which would hide the fogging from the inside.  But guess what Urban Camper?  That dew takes a lot longer to condense than it does for you to fog the windows from the inside, so again, its a dead give-away. 
 During summer you won't be as prone to fogging, but you'll probably need to keep the windows open wider and longer just because of the temperature.  This turns into a real blood sucking thrill because mosquitoes are in large part attracted by heat and carbon dioxide.  Both of these will be streaming from you and your car in huge concentrated quantities.  It's very much like ringing a dinner bell. Yum.  Can you say West Nile Virus?  Gooood.  Can you say Encephalitis?  Nice try.  Tomorrow we'll have a nice visit with the man from Vector Control.
  Do you want a quiet street or a busy street?  Yes. 
There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Obviously on a quiet street there will be fewer people to observe you and you are more likely to get a good nights rest (In as much is that is possible under the circumstances)  However, you will stand out more and be more readily recognized as something different.
 On the busy street you will certainly blend in far more readily.  You're far less likely to attract attention by your mere presence.  The flip side of that coin is you are more likely to be observed by someone, including police, and the noise etc. makes it more difficult to rest.
 A final note on neighborhood parking.  No matter where you decide to park the best you can hope for is a couple of nights in a row… especially on the quiet street.  If you want to avoid being hassled by the police, and I assume you do, you have to find a new spot every few nights.  A strange vehicle on the street will eventually cause people to talk and usually sooner rather than later.  Also its only a matter of time before someone sees you sleeping.  Remember that camper.  It's not a matter of IF, but WHEN.  If you stay in one place long enough you WILL be seen.  Sucks to be you. 
 Which also brings up another point.  Blocking the windows.  If your car has tinted windows then hurray for you, its one less thing to worry about.  If not, it's fine to put up a sunscreen on the windshield but that's it.  Blocking all the side windows and rear window with other 'stuff' is like putting a sign on the roof that says, "Someone is sleeping in here". Bad Ju-Ju for you.

More Temporary layovers for the vehicular urban adventurist.

 Here's one for the bold, but the psychology of the idea is sound. Park in a quite corner of a police station or courthouse parking lot.  It relies on the fact that many times the police (usually for good reason) don't check things out THAT close to home.  Do your scouting first, but in general it can be a good and reasonably safe place to be.

Parking structures.
 These can be a very good place to go but they too have there good points and bad points.  If youve scouted the location properly  you already know if they have rent-a-cops on duty.  Don't scoff at the rent-a-cop.  True they are mostly just there as a form of mental masturbation for those that hired them, yet still they know how to use a phone just as well as you do.  So lets assume that there are no security guards and the gates are left open during the off hours.  Or in some cases they open automatically very early in the morning to allow customers to enter before the hired staff arrives.  They are also rarely patrolled by regular police. Bonus!  Dance a Happy Homeless Dance.   This can be a great place to sleep because you don't have to worry about suspicious neighbors.  However being the only car in the structure makes you not only memorable and conspicuous, but a target for bored teenagers and the occasional car thief.  A variant on this theme is the hotel self parking area, again with proper scouting, this can be a very good place to park.  See below.

Hotel Parking Lots
Can be a surprisingly good place.  Careful scouting is as usual important.  But if they have a fair flow of traffic and minimal security, this can work.  Truck stop type hotels are ideal in this situation. 

Roadside Rest Stops
Fine for a night or two but no more, the CHP or local equivalent patrol these zones regularly and dat da name o dat tune.

WHAT, NO CAR?

 The sad fact is, that it has often been costly automobile repairs combined with job loss, illness etc.  that cause a person to become homeless in the first place.  And that is an awful moment.  The first night, no car, probably just the clothes on your back and maybe what you could shove into a back pack, and nowhere to go or to sleep.  Where am I going to sleep tonight?  This is the one that really cuts to the bone.
Okay, you can try to find a shelter, and if you can manage to walk there and if they have space available and if you can stand the utterly dehumanizing environment, you might have taken care of that problem for one night.  But take note that there are a lot of 'ifs' involved in that last sentence.
 So.  What IF (and it's likely) a shelter isn't an option.  Now what? 

-Busnapping.  No this doesn't have anything to do with kidnapping or hijacking a bus.  Nobody would pay the ransom anyway.  If you can scrape up enough money for an all day bus pass, you can get on a 24 route and try to catch a little sleep that way.

Advantages:  Dry, relatively safe, buses are heated and air conditioned.
Disadvantages:  Costs money that you might need for food.  Difficult to sleep sitting up.  Most of the time you are kicked off the bus at turn-around and must wait for the driver's break to end or the next bus to come.  Also some day passes expire around 2-3 in the morning.  Meaning you either get another pass or get off… since you're broke, it really means get off the bus… just hope it's not raining.

-Park or Bus Bench

Advantages:  You aren't sleeping directly on the ground.  At least you are laying down.  Park and bus benches are fairly numerous.
Disadvantages:  Completely exposed to weather in most cases. You will get rousted.  You will get harassed.  You will get chased off.  If you are lucky enough to have a blanket you cannot use it because most cities have these compassionate laws that say one cannot cover themselves with a blanket in public.  I won't bother to list the litany of pathetic 'reasons' for these laws.  The fact is they are aimed at YOU the homeless.  The city leaders don't want you around.  Period.  Any tactic to discourage you from being in THEIR city WILL be employed.  -Does it suck to be you or what?

-Abandoned buildings

Advantages:  Perhaps not as likely to be rousted by authorities. Usually very little traffic from the mundanes.
Disadvantages:  Generally unsafe and dangerous, sometimes a magnet for other homeless or kids.


-Under the over pass.
 Ah, the classic.  Become a bridge troll. 
Advantages: reasonably dry, some protection from wind. Quite a few locations.  Minor hassle potential in many locations.
Disadvantages:  Cold, dirty, LOUD, attracts other campers.  Also very low, shall we say, coffin like, overhead on what I like to call the sleeping lip.  That's the flat area near the top.  You know,  your new home.  Better run out and get curtains.


-Become a Bush Baby.
Advantages:  Vast number of locations.  Easy to find quite, dark area.
Disadvantages.  No protection from weather at all.  Dirtier than the underpass even.

-The electrical transformer is your friend.
This is sort of a subset of bush baby, and like bush babies you'll have no protection from rain.  However the advantage is that them thar transformers can sometimes be pretty darn warm… ergo so will you.

-To the restroom!
Many small office buildings, especially older ones have exterior public restrooms.
Advantages:  If you can find one that you can access this is really a great place, especially the upper floor restrooms because they are warmer in winter.  Also you have a convenient ready made place to clean up and use the facilities.  Very much one stop shopping.
Disadvantages:  Janitors and people walking in.  You may not be able to bed down till late and you'll certainly need to rise and leave very early in the morning to avoid discovery.

-Vacant homes and apartments
On first blush they seem like the best of the best, but the risks really far outweigh any potential benefits.  For one thing, you know that on any given evening you could return to find the residence now occupied.  Late at night is bad time to have to search for a place to sleep.  Also, if you are caught, it is unlikely you will be simply shooed off.  Though most of your Extreme Camping options technically involve trespassing, unlike the others, chances are you'll be going to jail on this one… life sucks in the streets but jail is worse.  Maybe that would make a nice bumper sticker.  The worst day homeless is better than the best day in jail.  It's up to you, but ol' Harv's advice is to never do anything that's likely to land you in jail.  Notice I said likely.  Simply being homeless is enough to possibly land you in jail… just not likely.  Don't do anything to raise a possible to a likely.

-Trains Planes and Bus Stations
Bus stations, airports and the like… places with people 24 hours… might work for a night or two but security will eventually give you the heave-ho.  Use these only if you have to… for instance if the rains have turned your bush bed into a water bed.

-In the dumpster
Come on now.  Better to just stay awake tonight.


Lets pause a moment to review:
    It sucks to be you.

 Moving right along, there are still a few related tips that you need to know about.  The big one is the late night potty break.  Hey, it happens to everyone and if there is no restroom nearby then ya gotta do what ya gotta do.  BUT, that doesn't mean you have to disengage the brain.  A big I Hate The Homeless rationale is the FACT, not belief, but fact, that so many of my fellow urban adventurists think they are cats out scent marking.  When nature calls, here are some do's and don'ts.  Do if possible have a large tinkle bottle (with cap please) handy to use.  Don't  empty it anywhere except a toilet.  If for some stupid reason you don't have a bottle....Do find an out of the way, little travelled spot.  Don't  make wee wee near ANY doors etc.  In fact, not near anyplace a person is likely to be.  Places like out by the dumpster maybe?  This may be your supermarket soon, so you certainly don't want to relieve yourself there.
 Do look for a patch of bare dirt.  Don't tinkle on the plants and especially lawns.  Your wee wee contains a little something called Uric Acid.  This acid will burn lawns and kill plants dead.  This is a no-no and seriously bad Ju-Ju.  Do look for a puddle of water or better still, running water etc.  Don't (for you guys) piss on the walls... it stains.  Or concrete... same deal AND the odor lingers in either case.
    "But I gots to take a poo Jen-ny."
Did I mention that it sucks to be you?
Not much in the way of options here, Extreme Camper.  Use a bag.  Just because dogs poop on lawns is no excuse for you to. 

Also another point here.  Like our restroom visits to clean up, we ideally want to leave no trace of our ever having been there.  This along with being common courtesy is also in line with the TABS strategy.  More on TABS at a later date.

Alrighty then.  That about covers this thrilling topic.  Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.  Oh, no bed.
Well then.  No bed, no bugs!
See?  Another unexpected advantage to Extreme Camping!

Next time:  Fine Homeless Dining, or why mold can be yummy.
Till then, Take Care

 I don't profess that the above is a complete list of stylish homeless accomodations but it should give you a broad overview of the possibilities and with any luck keep you a little drier. 

| This page created with popcicle sticks and glue |

 


Ahhhh, the smell of urine, mold, flies and rot. It's time to go grocery shopping in the world of the Extreme Camper.
 Though finding a place to sleep is in many ways the scariest part of being homeless, finding something to eat can be a real trick. But that's okay campers, ol' Humble Harv has got some tips for you.
 
 Food banks.  Well, unlike your more mundane money type bank, food banks are fairly few and far between.  The one nearest to me is about a 3 mile walk.  Fine as far as that goes.  You are allowed one visit per week.  You get about two days worth of food here IF you stretch it.
 So.  You could have failed elementary school math and still figured out there's going to be a short fall here.

 Soup Kitchens.  Like food banks, fine if you can find one but locations are limited and there may not be one in your area.  There aren't any local to me.

 Panhandling for food.  Oddly enough, I've never seen this one done, nor have I done it, but it seems reasonable.
I've seen plenty of people panhandling in front of grocery stores, but they are invariably looking for money, not food.  My hunch is that this is probably a very good, very safe method and probably carries a very high success rate.  Most people will wisely hesitate to hand over money, even change, but ask a person for a sandwich and my guess is that the asshole ratio drops pretty close to zero.

 Holiday spreads.  Many places including some restaurants give out free food on certain holidays.(I'd like to make a point of highlighting one in Huntington Beach, Tumbleweeds, that every year opens its doors at Christmas and Thanksgiving and serves free meals to those in need.  Bravo Tumbleweeds.  If you live in or visit the area make a point of dropping by and supporting them with your business.)  Only problem here is you'll most likely be dead if you wait between holidays to eat.

 The dumpster dive.  Ambiance, wide menu selection, handy locations, this is frequently where the homeless 'in-crowd' prefers to dine.  Why is dumpster diving the method of choice for so many?  I've given this some thought and it  seems to have a couple of key psychological advantages.  To understand these advantages you have to realize that the homeless person's pride and dignity are basically non-existent.  Still, not even the homeless want to add humiliation to their misery.
Believe it or not, going to a food bank or panhandling for food etc. is humiliating.  Certainly a better choice than starving, but the emotional cost can be pretty high.
 But not dumpster diving.  First off dumpster diving is a mild form of work.  Secondly (at least ideally) no one is going to see your humiliation.  You get to retain some sliver of dignity.  Though mind you, dumpster diving in-and-of itself is not exactly what anyone would deem a self-esteem builder. 
 There are also risks to dumpster diving.  The primary risk is that it is illegal.  Yup.  It's called Scavenging and it's basically a city's  way of showing the homeless how much they are loved.  Oddly enough, if you do the same procedure with a several million dollar boat over an old shipwreck this is called Salvaging and they make movies about you.  Go figure. 
 One note on scavenging laws.  Aside from the unstated general distaste for the homeless, one of the rationale behind these scavenging laws is that the scavengers leave a freakin' mess.  Sorry camper but on that score they are frequently correct.  If you are going to dumpster dive, don't mess up a good thing.  If you remove anything for better access, put it back in the dumpster.  In fact if you come upon a mess left by some homeless person who is less enlightened and considerate than yourself… clean up the mess.  Even though you didn't make it.  You aren't doing them a favor, you are doing yourself a favor.  By keeping the area as clean as possible, people are far more likely to turn a blind eye to your activities. Just like the bathrooms, if you leave a mess you will quickly become unwelcome.  That's why you also clean up the other slob's mess.  People who find the mess don't know that it's not YOUR mess.  All they know is that it IS a mess and some dumpster Cousteau did it.  You can suffer for another's stupidity.  It also relates to TABS (don't worry we'll be going into TABS at a later date)
 Another side note here, this one a positive and one that I will go into in greater depth in the section; Scum! You, the law and society at large.  The police.  Now I can with very little effort go into detail about what A-holes and pseudo-nazis many of the boys in blue are… just a sad fact.  But only the very worst of the worst want to bother some poor homeless schlep.  Generally the same guy who goes home, gets drunk and beats his wife.  Consequently you have to give them a real good reason to bother you before they come to investigate the dumpster diver.  Even then I suspect that it is with some reluctance on their part.  So give them their due on that score and a friendly nod on the street.
 So where are all the IN spots for dumpster dining? Well the first thought that comes to many people's minds is restaurants.  Actually this is not a good idea.  To begin with, it's horribly messy and considering the pain in the dorsal cushion it is to keep clean, you'll need to avoid those activities that get you dirty faster. (Mind you, dumpster scuba isn't exactly clean to begin with.) Also the left-overs from restaurants are generally scrapped into a trash bag before hitting the dumpster.  The result is a bag full of food goo. 
 Secondly, you're taking a huge chance with your health because this stuff used to be on someone else's plate and perhaps in their mouths as well. Add that to the inherent dumpster filth and do the math.
 Okay, so restaurant garbage isn't the preferred location for the discriminating dumpster diver.  What next?  Why your friendly neighborhood grocery store of course!  Ever notice all those expiration dates on food?  What do you think happens to those expired goodies?  Bingo!  And don't get too upset about those expiration dates.  The suppliers typically make the expiration dates a bit sooner than they need to.
 Why?  First of all it's a safety margin for them… should something go bad a little sooner than expected, they're covered.  Secondly, surprise surprise, they do it in hopes that you the gullible consumer will notice the expiration date and toss out the food and then go buy more.  Clever little monkeys huh?
 I won't go into huge detail about food spoilage and what keeps and what doesn't, but a few words are probably in order. 
 Dairy (except for some dry cheeses) and poultry and fish don't last too long so be extra cautious with these.  Beef and pork are only a little better.  However there is an exception to this rule.
 Anything which is heavily salted will also have a long life.  (Salting and smoking are perhaps the oldest methods of preserving food.)  Same goes for pickled products.
 Always keep an eye out for canned goods.  Many stores will throw away cans with dents or missing labels.  Of course with missing labels you don't know what's in the can either, and yes it could just as easily be pet food.  But hey, Mamma always said that life was like a can from a dumpster… err.. um.. or something like that. 
Anyway.
Eggs get thrown out in huge quantities because if one gets broken, the whole dozen is pretty much shot as far as sales goes.  Another thing about eggs is that they keep very well.  Even unrefrigerated eggs keep for a very long time.  You'll also find lots of day old bread etc.  It might be less than its peak of flavor but still safe and edible.  Same goes for our friend the stale cookie.  Yum.

More dining options for the dwelling challenged.

   Now here's a fairly good idea if your scruples aren't exactly operating at 100%… and if you are starving, that has a way of happening so don't feel too bad.  First off I have to assume that you are a practitioner of Homeless Chic.  This one won't work otherwise.  Many of the larger hotels have meeting and banquet rooms. More often than not, there is at least a continental breakfast of some sort laid out prior to these meetings and available at breaks.  Hmmm just what the extreme camper needs to start out his or her morning right. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Actually, come to think of it, any meal is the most important meal of the day if you are homeless.
  To make this work you need to be able to blend in, so make sure you are HC and don't make the mistake of trying to stuff your pockets or a bag with goodies.  Just do what the natives are doing and then skeedaddle. (That's French for "leave bozo".)  The key as always, is to blend in.  Become one with the buffet.  Ommmmmmmmmmm.  If everyone is wearing a monkey suit, you are probably out of luck though...
 By the way, this maneuver is sometimes available for lunch and rarely, dinner.  Usually there is a schedule posted in the hotel lobby to aid you in your dining plans.  Thoughtful of them huh?
  A variation on this theme is to crash the wedding reception… usually this works out okay, only problem is that like Holiday dining, these events tend to be very spread out in terms of times and locations…(mostly weekends) sometimes the happy couple will be considerate enough to publish their event in the local newspapers to make it easier for you to attend.  As always HC and blending in are key to making this a joyous occasion for you as well as the beautiful bride and her stunned victim.
 Large parties, BBQs and corporate picnics also work much the same way and it's even easier to blend in…
  Another interesting strategy here; I saw one guy who sort of sat in the corner of a fast food joint and waited for a patron to finish and leave without dumping their tray.  He would then slide over and finish off any remnants.  Functional and reasonably safe.  Unfortunately, he didn't have the benefit of Humble Harv's wisdom in being Homeless Chic.  In other words he looked and smelled something awful.  Consequently it wasn't long before some patron or another complained and the management gave him the heave-ho.
Humble Harv's rating:  7.8 on the plan, 3.0 on the execution.

 I live (or exist rather, living mostly includes having a home) in So. Cal.  One little stunt we used to pull in my university daze (just for fun mind you) was to slip onto a location shoot of some movie…. Craft Services almost always puts out a great spread and it's so easy to blend in with the crowd.  Naturally, this isn't of much use to you if you live in other parts of the country.
 The point is to put your pointy little noggin to some other use than a hat rack.  Think of any time or place where you got to strap on the feed bag for free.  I'm certain you'll be able to come up with some ideas that I haven't mentioned here.
 Now, like any hardy pioneer, you will sometimes want to actually cook your food.  Repeat after me: Mr. Mircowave is my friend.  Nuke it till it glows baby.
There are plenty of microwave ovens available for public usage.  Think libraries, snack bars, convenience stores etc.  Many of these locations also have plastic spoons and forks available for you too.  (More on equipping yourself for your Urban Adventure in a later section.)
 Not an accomplished microwave chef?  Many parks have small barbecue facilities.  Yippie!  You should already know that plain old hot water can often be found in restrooms as well.
 Still, despite all the things that have been thoughtfully provided for your comfort and convenience, the fact is you had better get used to eating things straight out of the package.  Oh well, just one of the sacrifices we have to make to experience the thrill of homelessness.
 
All right you homeless Epicurean, hopefully I've given you some ideas to chew on (oh, am I funny or what?) in the meantime good luck and Bon Appetite!
(That's Greek for "Just scrape off the moldy bits.")


 


 
Our next topic will be TABS and Scouting.
or "Look at me, I'm invisible!"
Till then, Take Care


HOME

| This page created by someone fast running out of clever things to put at the bottom of the page. |

 

There are no more chapters after this one.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 You may wonder what Harv's background is.

Here is his resume' :

 

 

HUMBLE HARV'S RESUME'

 

Click here to add your comment...
soulight

I do too , SierraStar! It is really sad to get to chapter 3 and then there aren't any more postings. Holly

Talk to soulight
Lady Christie

I wonder what happened to Harv?

Talk to Lady Christie