I’m still sleeping rough (residentially challenged), so starting my day around 3 or 4 in the morning is the norm. I found some clean, dry cardboard and slept behind a church last night. The weather wasn’t too bad, cool but at least it was dry. I walked about a mile to the Harris Teeter grocery store (HT) for my coffee run. They have a small café area with microwave, coffee machine, little tables, and wifi. I buy Folgers instant single packs of coffee. I get seven for a dollar. I finally applied for and received my EBT card, so I have a little money to eat with - about $6 a day. Did you know a chicken salad sandwich is $5.99? Just one sandwich and I spend all I allot myself for the day. So I end up eating lots of oodles of noodles and canned beans.
I didn’t apply for a card right after my last one lapsed. You know why? Going to sign up at DSS would have cut into my drinking time. I swear that’s the truth. So I set up my little office at HT every morning. Coffee, computer, legal pad, earbuds, and wifi. I’m good to go.
After coffee this morning, I was walking toward town and noticed a guy asleep in the Parks and Recreation flower garden with traffic whizzing by on two sides of him. Maybe he wasn’t asleep. I know how this guy feels. I hope he is getting sleep. Total exhaustion will cause you to lay down anywhere, anytime. Better that than falling down. I get so little sleep. One time in Wilmington, I went without sleep for so long that I started hallucinating. Sleep deprivation cause can cause irritability, anxiety, depression, as well as higher cognitive thinking such as planning and judgment. It has even been known to cause death.
Just a bit further up the sidewalk I see this. This is what happens when you try to hide some of the things you just can’t carry all the time. People will be looking for a spot to hide their own clothes, run across yours, rifle through all your stuff, take what they want, and fling the rest to the dirt. Hell, probably the only thing they got was something like a tube of toothpaste and a stick of gum.
I saw two other similar piles of clothes strewn about like this on the same day. All three were women’s clothes. Not having a safe convenient place to store things makes a difficult situation even worse. In a few cities I’ve been to, occasionally a non-profit will have some storage for the homeless. There’s usually a waiting list to get something like a plastic clothes bin. If you are fortunate enough to get one, you will only have access to it at certain times on certain days, usually being able to access it once a day at the most. I would say that someone could get rich by opening a storage facility with only small lockers since there is such a great need for them in every city. It’ll never happen. Most homeless people don’t have money for the essentials of life, much less for anything else.
It’s about 5pm, and I’m sitting in the Edible Park. It has a boardwalk with fruit and nut trees and will have a vegetable and butterfly garden when it warms up. Anyone is welcome to help themselves to the foods growing here; you’re only asked not to take more than your share. I came here because it’s so peaceful and relaxing. I find the need to get away from people on a regular basis, the need to think without interruption. The stairwell in the Edible Park reminds me of my journey, uphill and steep with few places to pause. Whatever is at the top has yet to be seen.
One Week On the Streets: Read the Entire Series