Unlike many homeless who just somehow end up on the streets, I had planned my upcoming move for months in advance. I researched camp grounds and parking sites, familiarized myself with the laws regarding the homeless (don´t get me started on that load of sh…), and created lists of supplies ranging from baby wipes to a portable camping stove. I´ve always had a passion for the outdoors and thus my move appeared to me like an extended camping trip. With tupperware full of neatly organized clothes, canned food, and hygiene items I began my adventure at a Walmart parking lot.
I will never forget my first night as a hobo. After circling the parking lot several times, and surely attracting the attention of every last person parked there, I decided on a spot that seemed the most ideal. I backed up into my spot of choice and simply sat there for a while observing the never ending stream of cars, busy shoppers, and overworked Walmart employees. Being new to the lifestyle, I assumed that I had to be practically invisible. Once I had covered my windshield using a sunshade, I climbed into the back of my SUV and began stacking my tupperware on one side and setting up my bed on the other. Although my windows are tinted and I soon covered them, I ducked for ever car that drove by.
After setting up my camp for the night, I got back into the front seat. I noticed a new vehicle a few spots next to mine and began looking for the driver. A man, probably in his late 40´s, was reorganizing his belongings and seemed blissfully unaware of my presence. With the bicycle strapped to the top of his Jeep, his clean and outdoorsy look, and the fact that the back of his vehicle was full of stuff, he appeared to me like a traveler. I imagined him traveling the country, enjoying his freedom with every breath of air, and not caring about society´s opinion regarding his lifestyle. Clearly, he had noticed me staring; he turned towards me, smiled, and waved. I waved back and was suddenly very busy rearranging my already perfectly organized supplies.
Although I did jump up for every last car passing by, I soon fell asleep in my incredibly comfortable sleeping bag and dreamed of vast forests and mountains. I awoke a couple times and used my thirty seconds of consciousness to peek out of my windows making sure everything looked alright out there. At this point of the year, my hopes of warm spring nights had been massacred by three continuous weeks of rain. Bundled up in my sleeping bag, I managed to stay toasty warm despite the chill.
From what I had gathered during my research of “Walmart Parking” is that it is primarily a place to sleep. Hanging out on the property during the day is very much frowned upon and thus I decided to leave early in the morning. I woke up around 7 am and began my typical hygiene routine. Once I looked and felt like a human, I made my way to the building for some breakfast and a restroom run. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and the Walmart employees treated me like any other customer.
Back in my vehicle, I enjoyed a good breakfast consisting of a bread roll, fruit, and a granola bar. My “neighbor” was in the process of storing his blanket and pillow in the back of his Jeep. In a few minutes of daydream, I imagined the places he would travel to next. Surely, he´d be seeing beautiful landmarks, meet the most interesting people, and enjoy days filled with unique experiences. Coincidentally we both got ready to leave around the same time. As I started my car, he drove past me. Before I could say “Bye, have a great life, be safe” in my mind, something on the back of his vehicle caught my eye. There were a bunch of card board signs taped to the back of his window. One read: “The Lord HATES Sinners”. What? All my preconceived ideas regarding his person crumbled and I thought to myself: “Oh great, he´s nuts”.