No matter how well-informed one may be, some knowledge and wisdom can only be gained through experience. Here is a little list of duh! moments I´ve had while living the houseless life.
- Tamed nature doesn´t make for a good sleeping spot
I typically make an effort to sleep in natural areas. I enjoy waking up to the view of mountain ranges and lush nature. Unfortunately, I am not always able to sleep quite that elaborately. One night I settled for a nice spot next to a well-groomed park. About three hours after going to sleep, I was rudely awoken by what sounded like a mad animal jumping up and down on my vehicle. My heart was pounding in my chest and I grabbed my pepper spray and taser ready to fight of the monster on my vehicle. When I moved my curtains, I saw that the “monster” was nothing but the sprinkler system watering the park (and my SUV).
2. It´s not written on your forehead
Wherever people go, they see what they expect to see. At a store, they expect shoppers. At school, they expect students. In a neighborhood, they expect residents. What does this mean? It means that unless you´ve had a really rough night or don´t have the means to keep up your appearance and hygiene, most people will never guess that you are houseless. When you sit in your vehicle at a store, people don´t automatically assume that you are waiting for the right moment to sneak in the back of your car. They see a person waiting for a friend or spouse.
3. Air is more useful than you think
When it is particular cold outside, the tendency is to stay mummied up pretty much all day (and all night). A shower or spit bath is sufficient to stay clean, right? Nope. Bacteria thrive in warm stuffy conditions and thus it is necessary to let some air get to your skin. This is especially true for your feet! Now, your top priority remains staying warm, but whenever you get the chance to take off some of your clothes, and most importantly your socks, do so!
4. It gets dark at night
Although I did know I had to remain unseen for the most part, it somehow didn´t occur to me that this meant sitting in darkness when it gets dark outside. Personally, I have no issues with that whatsoever; in fact, I´ve gotten really good at identifying objects via touch!
5. Not everybody hates you
There are a lot of stereotypes out there regarding the homeless and many people have rather negative feelings towards us. While it is true that some people would like for us to be banned from the city, there are individuals out there who actually care. A cop I met a bit ago who was shushing me away in the middle of the night, was actually just concerned about the recent violent crimes in the area. Keep an open mind.
6. The unwritten rules
Signs stating “No Overnight Parking” don´t always mean just that. Also, you can still get towed at stores who allow overnight parking if you happen to be at the wrong part of the lot. The moral of the story? Scout, observe, and learn. Being a hobo means living in a niche that has no handbook to go by.