Here you are…
… where you thought you’d never be:
Sitting ~ only briefly, mind you (they’ll be along in a moment to make you get up and start walking again) ~ on the curb. Feet in the gutter, head in hands.
What to do?
You were hoping it was their fault, right? All those times you didn’t meet their eyes, afraid they might ask you for some of what you……
Now you know it wasn’t.
In fact, now that you’re here yourself, you’re sure that it would take doing something pretty terribly awful to deserve this.
You just had to stop moving for a moment, or scream aloud from frustration, fear and the pain of unbelievably blistered feet, aching muscles and a heart which was broken when you heard your former front door close behind you, and has already been broken many times more by the unnecessary, sometimes gleeful cruelties of your fellow human beings…
Screaming aloud, however…
… or for that matter anything you would naturally do (did naturally do when you had a place to do it) to mourn, grieve or blow off steam ~ like weeping, moaning or even just rocking to relieve physical or emotional pain ~ is on the long, long list of actions to which you used to have the right (and which those who deny them to you still do), but which now will get you arrested.
For actions like those above, you are taken for evaluation to an insane asylum, where homelessness is one of only three criteria (the other two being danger to yourself and danger to others) which all by itself ~ check California state law if you doubt it ~ will get you classed, along with the sadistic serial child-murderers, as dangerously insane.
Once you are issued this classification
… you can be kept indefinitely and drugged into submission against your will. A county doctor will see you, drugged out and freaked out, for fifteen to twenty minutes before writing that yes indeed, just as they suspected, you’ve been sleeping in the cold and in fear…If you do manage to get your case to court, His Honor will gaze on what’s left of you, condemning you to any period of confinement that doctor might have been in the mood to recommend the day he saw you.
So don’t cry.
Other Items on the Arrest List
Don’t do any of these things, ever ~ you’re horrible for even wanting to, you disgusting creature!…
1) Sitting Down:
Unless it is a sunny day and you happen to be passing a city park when you drop ~ or you have money to spend (and inner strength to deal with scornful service and the dirty looks) in a cafe ~ never do this.
Oh, you may think what you are doing is resting because blisters half an inch thick and the size of silver dollars cover more of the sole of each foot than not (don’t think this is possible? think again), your entire body hurts almost as badly as your feet do, you’re sick from tsleeping in the cold and weak from lack of food and despair, and if you don’t sit down you’ll fall down (please see above).
But you’re not. You’re actually loitering.
That’s not a tree on a grassy lawn, there…
..with no one to disturb if you sit under it, either.
That’s either public (government), or private property. Any piece of ground that doesn’t fall into one of those two categories is a “public thoroughfare”.
You are subject, if you “loiter” in any of these places, to arrest.
If you’re lucky, you will be notified of this by a citizen or security guard rather than by the police themselves.
This security guard will stand right there and watch you the whole time you are gathering your belongings to move along, move along, move along…
Don’t try to shake his hand, though. Though empowered to arrest you, very often, by regulation, he can’t do that.
2) Lying Down
Public parks (miles in between them, of course, and no bathrooms in many even so) are supposed to be legal to lie down in between dawn and dusk.
If you have a home in which to leave your possessions ~ which, if you don’t, brand you for disfavored treatment every single place you go ~ this is actually true.
So then, you’d have no way of knowing that to be in that park for other reasons ~ because there’d been no rest, for instance, but constant stress, little food and way too much strain on your body, and you’d been to all intents and purposes asleep on your feet even before you collapsed on the grass ~ the next passing policeman very likely awaken you as jarringly as possible, to discourage the practice…
3) Talking to another homeless person where you can be seen by passers-by:
Just try this, as a homeless person yourself, anywhere except a park bench, and see how fast the heat shows up.
For the duration of your homelessness it is unwise to object to rudeness, false charges, screamed abuse, or any other mistreatment meted out to you by anyone who still has a home.
yours foolie writes from personal experience.
You may not realize it yet, but you have no more legal rights. The sleaziest of obvious con men will be believed before you will.
Usually, you won’t even be given much of a chance to speak at all.
5) Needing to go to the bathroom:
It’s three in the morning.
Your digestive system (along with every other system in your body) has taken as much punishment as it’s going to without protest.
You’re in a state of emergency.
You do have two dollars for a cup of coffee ~ three hours from now, when the coffee shops open …
… and, as well, after you’ve found a way to disassemble your sleeping arrangement completely, and pack it all into your bags ~ bending, straightening, heaving, tugging and tying, all without creating enough of a mess to refer you back to this arrest list …
You look around.
No shadows left in this modern world ~ floodlights everywhere you gaze.
No bushes, either, you’re realizing, now that you’re in need of one ~ they’ve all been cut back at ground level so they won’t provide any cover for those whom we force to hide.
New homes and office structures are being built without eves, too. Can’t have people finding a little less misery there when it’s raining, after all ~ what kind of a world would that be?
Wrestling your half-dozen layers of clothing’s a difficult and time-consuming feat even in a bathroom, where you can stand up, pull things up and down, wriggle freely. In the situation confronting you now, even this single aspect of its complications is a daunting one; especially if you’re weak from disability, malnutrition, exhaustion, disease or lack of sleep over moments like this one.
You decide to try just holding on, see if the urge will fade.
You spend a lot of time this way, adding one more excruciating discomfort to all the others you are enduring at those same moments.
Ah, same hours…
This time, though, it’s not going to work
Something’s got to give.
The last thing you want to do is add to the growing reputation of the homeless as uncaringly filthy by leaving your excrement for Mother Nature to dry up in a few hours and blow away ~ as it is, after all, designed to do when everything in sight’s not covered in cement …
Fortunately, you had sufficient money to make a store purchase in between the last time this happened and this one, so you do have with you a plastic bag. That’s lucky.
And since you carefully didn’t spill a single drop on your last visit to civilization, you’ve got a napkin, too.
That’s where this moment’s good luck stops, though…
You’re certainly in no condition to pack your bags
or to carry them however far you’re going to have to limp, with belly cramping and knees twisting ~ and freezing cold to boot ~ before you can call this business taken care of.
That means you’re going to have to walk away from your belongings.
You’ve had belongings stolen no more than fifteen feet from you. In the presence of other people. By someone who coolly strolled back over to their table and sat down, continuing their conversation with a lunch companion as though nothing at all had occurred.
And nothing did.
If you knew what was good for you.
You’re breathless, disgusted, maybe crying, and worn out before your day’s even begun ~ but you have indeed ousted from your body that which had been screaming for exit. All without either getting immediately arrested, or making a sufficient mess of things to get you arrested later.
Now you have possession of a warm, heavy, smelly, very obvious white plastic bag ~ just like the dozen or so which these days, anyone who looks will find filling every publicly available trash can in every city in the US ~ and which you are holding as far away from your clothing as possible…
Public trash cans, however, have become few and far between.
Even though it may well involve walking even further from your belongings your rational solution, of course, is to drop it into the next domestic sidewalk-wheeler you find.
Don’t get caught doing that, though.
~ yep, you guessed it ~
Nails in Your Coffin
You told yourself (back there on the other side of the line separating the touchables from the untouchables)
when you did remember their suffering existence right beside you ~ that if it ever happened to you (which of course it would not) at least you’d keep your hands and nails clean, right?
As a superiorly civilized being, you’d have a little dignity about it all…
But you’re finding out, now, how long it takes, in a weakened condition, to wrestle all those layers of clothing ~
without which you would be perpetually, dear God, cold …
cold … cold …
… even colder than you are with them ~
… out of place to use the public toilet you finally made it to, and then back into place again afterward…
You’re learning that the instant you enter a public bathroom
(more correctly: if you are allowed to enter one ~ when you’re homeless this is far more often a “no” than a “yes”), an attendant will enter right behind you.
This attendant will not exit the rest room until you do so, but will instead remain to monitor your behavior until you leave.
He or she will not look kindly upon the unpacking of toilet articles such as skin and nail brushes from your bags.
The attendant has more authority than you do.
Everyone has more authority than you do.
That same attendant or mystery-shopper will also appear, elaborately doing nothing (except enjoying your humiliation) on entry to every store to which you bring your business.
In coffee shops
they will materialize the moment you head for the counter holding the sugar, cream and napkins.
The very customers will feel free to comment in loud tones regarding the amount of cream you like to take in your coffee.
The number of napkins you take will be scrutinized.
No one will stand at the counter near you, but will qeue up a few feet away until you abandon the premises.
You’re learning that when you sit, you will sit on the ground
~ or just the same as.
What you put down mid-use must be painstakingly replaced in ~ and then retrieved from ~ the appropriate pouch or pocket in the appropriate bag, or placed upon the ~ yep, ground.
When you pick it up it will have dirt on it.
So will your clothing and any bags you remain strong enough to drag or carry with you on every one of the many, many steps you are made to take this and every day.
That dirt will come off on your hands. They will be dirty again within thirty minutes of your most recent opportunity to wash them.
This would result
~ if you had that many chances ~
in over thirty washings in the course of an average day.
You may have thought (if you thought that far), that you’d carry water for the purpose …
… but now you know better, don’t you?
Water’s heavy, after all.
And it’s a staggeringly heavy load you already carry or drag with you all day ~ every day ~ long…