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Homeless Tips: Surviving the Streets – What To Know And What Not To Do
Homeless tip 1: Know the difference between being a bum and being homeless! I’m homeless but not a bum! I have drive, ambition, dreams, and determination! A bum has none 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 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.
Homeless tip 2: Do not buddy up! Very bad idea. And 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…… Its a quick way to get hurt or stolen from. 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 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 time in your life to be trying to make friends. And simply put a friendship of this mature will never work for you. Just stay away from them. you are better off!
Homeless tip 3: 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 has 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 they where stuck. And they had everything from that truck with then. Makeup, cloths, 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!
Homeless tip 4: If you are caught in the rain and have one one garbage bag do not but holes in it and where it like a rain coat. Instead, cover your shoes and feet! If you can keep your shoes and feet dry when use it as a rain coat. Any homeless person will tell you this: when you are homeless the most important part of your body is your feet. Wet shoes and feet do not mix. If your walking around with wet shoes you will get blisters and sores. It will be the worst pain you feet have ever felt do to rain. 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 cough with wet shoes get them off ASAP and dry them out. Like I said…. any homeless person will tell you this, that I promise!
Homeless tip 5: 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 tho! My advise is to take full advantage of every public bathroom you can, to the fullest. 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 with 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 bast. Just be fast about it.
Homeless tip 6: Outlets…… find them! Remember I said you need your phone with you? You need it rather it has minuets or not. Your phone is very handy. It has all your friends numbers in it, you can also store new number if you need to, its an alarm clock (which you will need), its your calender, 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 booth, and other random places. When possible use then in fast food restaurants like McDs or Burger King. If you have the money bye 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 just to do it. And avoid sitting right in front of the workers. Usually they wont bother you anyways, but no need to draw attention. If you are using an outside outlet just try not to get cough. Sit in front of it and do your best to make like you actually have a reasion to be there. Do what ever you can to keep powered up. My I power my phone and computer mostly at McDs. They know people are gonna use the free WiFi here. 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 any way possible!!!
Homeless tip 7: Reorganize often! Once every 3 days or so I take 30minuts out to go through all my stuff and reorganize. It helps keep me sharp, fast, and feeling better about my living condition’s. 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 how you are (someone living out of a bag). So, keep it clear and keep it light.
Homeless tip 8: “The homeless credit card”! What? LOL, let me tell you1 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 keep noticing this woman watching the same spot. After some time she came over. She know I was homeless…. because she was to. And she know we where both doing the same thing. We got 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, we where 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. We shacked up 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 to leave. She was kind of a hippie I remember thinking to. NOT that being a hippie had anything to do with it. Well, being a bum and surviving 20 years on the streets you can believe she was a wealth of knowledge. After she told me a story about how she once ran into Will Smith and his son she told me about “The homeless credit card”. “The homeless credit card” consist of two things. A black sharpy, and I piece of cardboard. I know what your thinking “I’ve seen this several times”. I’m sure you have. But I doughty 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. She NNNNNNNEEEEVVVVVEEERRRR asked for money. Why? because she didn’t need it. What she did need…. toothpaste. A sleeping bag, a hair brush, shampoo, even a cheeseburger. And she always got what she asked for. Every time! People are feed up with the homeless asking for money all the time. With this recession things are ever worse and people are even tighter with money. But, people are kind hearted (I believe that very much) and are willing to help someone in need out. They just don’t want to toss away there 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 woad of cash (unless you get very lucky, don’t hold your breath).
My friend for the night understood that. And on every card she made she was very specific about what she needed. If your in need you should be to. People will help!
I never saw her again. Through out 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 want across the street to a hotel and got us some free coffee. Me, following one of my major rules……. left!
Homeless tip 9: Know your surroundings. When you are homeless and on the move it is very easy to wind up in the wrong neighborhood. Always be aware. If someplace you just walked into makes you feel unsafe…. get out! trust your gut and avoid the risks. I didn’t always follow this tip myself. And I had to learn to trust my gut a little bit. But now I know. I once had a friend that lived in a very bad neighborhood. She was new there herself and told me several times it was bad. However she was helping me. I wound up going through this place about 5 times. Three of those times was in the day. During the day it wasn’t so bad but I still had a bad feeling about it. But the two times at night I was scared out of my mind. People where everywhere. And by “people” I mean drug dealers and gang bangers. I’m a white, and I was clearly in a place where white people weren’t living. I’m not resist by the way but safe is safe…. and I was not safe! Now, the last time I want through I got stopped….. by about 5 cops! They where just standing around on the side of the road. They stopped me when I walked bast them. They patted me down (with my hands behind my head), got my i.d and other info, want through my stuff, and let me go! They where asking me questions like what I was doing there and had I been “taxed”. I had to ask him what that meant because I told him “yes”, “I get taxed every day”, LOL! These cops where the only ones that gave me any hard time at all. Now, I never want back there because they told me not to (at least not at night) and after I left and had a second to think about it all I figured they where right and I shouldn’t. Not because of the gangs on the street, but because those cops exposed me. You see, when I was walking through this place no one messed with me. The reason was because they didn’t know me and didn’t know what I was doing there. I just walked straight through and got to where I needed to go. Without relieving what I was doing….. I tricked them. I didn’t act scared. I didn’t “eyeball” anyone. I simply want about my business. And that’s what you should do in this situation. If you find yourself in a bad spot do NOT panic. Do not talk to anyone, that will expose you. Simple walk out! The cops exposed me. Had me standing on the corner,in front of everyone, and let me go. What that told the people of those streets was that I was a guy that was not into trouble, had nothing to hide, and didn’t belong there. I asked myself what I would have done if I had been stopped by someone out there. What I would do is this: quickly ask him (or her) where I could get 300$ worth of crack, and ask him (or her) if they could meet me there in 30 minuets while I ran home (around the corner and down the street I don’t know because I’m new there) and got some money together. I would then ask for a phone number (in case I get lost on the way back) and walk away like I’m on a new mission in life.
Homeless tip 10: Scope out your spots. Do this from a distance and make sure no one knows what you are doing. Watch for people going in or around the spot. Watch for cops. Watch for anything that gives you any idea about how early you need to be up in the morning. Look for resources that you might be able to use around the spot (sink, charger, things of that nature). Find security in the spot. How well lit is it? Will anyone see me? Is there any kind of lock? Will I be safe? will I be worm? Ask yourself these questions. Sometimes you might get a good spot. Sometimes you might have a bad spot. Safety should always be your first concern. Scope it out and ask yourself these questions then make a decision. And remember, have more then one spot! Intel you actually win the fight you will need as many spots as you can! Homelessness is not an easy life!
Homeless tip 11: I tell you all the time the image is everything when you are homeless. And I also tell you all the time to stay away from other homeless people (unless you are pumping them for info, homeless people are a wealth of information about resources). But somethings you just plain run into homeless people that know you are homeless. DO NOT BEFRIEND THEM. But its OK to be cool with them for a minute or two in passing. Its kind of good for you. It keeps you on a train of thought that says “hey, your not the only one”. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one. Its easy to stand on a street corner watching the cars go by and say to yourself “why me”. That will bring you down and as a homeless person you cant afford to think like that. And besides “who cares” “why you”? It happened and that’s all there is to it. Just remember that you are not the only one out there on the streets. I still stay stick to yourself. I’m heavy about that. That’s for survival reasons. But there is no shame in lifting someone else’s spirits and saying “ya man, I’m like you! Just trying to get bye. You are not alone”.
Homeless tip 12: Don’t take what you don’t need! This woman in the blazer was not gonna give me money. But she know I wasn’t going to take it as well. This whole thing was about a minute long. Inside that one minute I earned her respect and possible changed her view on homeless people. “How could a homeless person not except what he and I both know he wants, rather he needs it or not”? Truth be told, I did want money! But I had some and know that nothing she gave me was gonna make my night better. That’s why I wasn’t going to take it if offered. The respect I earned from her was priceless anyways! Respect will probably not get you off the streets. But the affects of being respected by others is worth wild.
I don’t talk about being homeless. Ive gone long periods of time being homeless with large groups of friend that never know. I hide it very well. I’d rather do things the hard way. How can I maintain something that was given to me when I couldn’t maintain the same thing when I earned it before by myself?
So, Don’t take what you don’t need just because you can. And earn respect! This will help you feel better about being homeless. Homeless people often feel they are being looked down on. I don’t feel that way. I will be respected! I will stay focused!
Homeless tip 13: Never invite another homeless person into your spot. As much as I’d love to say “hey man, I know a better place! Come check this out” I know that will only lead to trouble. Every time I leave a spot I clean up my stuff. I do this because I don’t want anyone to know I was there. I check and check and check to make sure that my time there is erased completely. I leave nothing behind. When you invite another homeless person into your spot basically have to tell him (her) the house rules. And watch over them. Now you have to double check they didn’t leave anything behind. I”d set some rules like this:
1) Don’t go there before 10:00 pm!
2) Don’t smoke!
3) Don’t tell anyone!
4) Be gone by 5:20 am!
5) pick up your stuff
Simple, however I can promise you that within two week you have this: You show up at 10:00 pm on the dot and there is already 3 other people there. They are all drinking and smoking. Its like a little homeless party. The place is trashed with spilt beer and ash. You friend you told first doesn’t know what to say to you. No one is listening to you. It smell, and you knows that not just a cigarette they are smoking. Now you see flashing lights. Now you are all arrested and going to jail. You lost the spot. Never invite anyone into your spot. Its one thing for you to get into trouble on your own. But its another for you to get into trouble because of a bunch of other homeless people!
Homeless tip 14: Have fun in your down time. I know this sounds funny but I do believe it is something you must do. Time for homeless people is a little different then the time of an average person. However, homeless people to wind up with free time (usually on the weekends). And I say there is no harm in doing something for you as long as its not going to make your situation worse. Read a book! Go to church! Maybe see a friend or family member if you can! Make a phone call to a loved one! Hit the beach if possible! What ever it take to free your mind from the stresses of being homeless and makes your free time go faster for you.
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