Monday, June 25, 2012

Shelter To Shelter

There are plenty of options available to a drifter as far as accommodations. Beaches, churches, a tent in the woods, sidewalks, etc.. Also, there are certain missions that offer “discipleship” programs but unfortunately that requires selling your soul and I serve no master. If you can find one, you may also be able to get into what is known as an Emergency Homeless Shelter.. if you're lucky.

This is usually dependent on three major factors:

1. Perfect timing
2. The mood of the workers when you get there.
3. A delicate blend of 1 and 2.

Availability is the key issue. These sites fill up quite rapidly so whatever you do don’t be late.

The first shelter that arrived at seemed livable at first. A relatively small warehouse, although I would probably describe it as more of a sweatbox. Army cots in the front, with bunk beds to the rear in a separate back room. I noticed right away that the bunk beds were always the last chosen. At first I thought it was because the back room was a literal sauna as there are no windows or air conditioning so ventilation is poor. After one night I quickly realized the true reason why these cushioned mattresses never found their way to being the primary choice..

Bed bugs.

I had only heard of these tiny bastards through myth. Now the myth has become legend. These vicious little demons relentlessly tear away at your flesh all night long making any attempt at slumber an excruciatingly agonizing affair. Oddly enough, I probably would have suffered through the nightly attacks just to have a place to sleep if it were not for one fateful day. One of the workers handed me a large ziplock bag claiming that this was my own personal container to store my pillow. Upon inspection, I found that the interior was laced with traces of someone’s blood and that’s when I knew that would be my last night.

The second facility that I found is a little larger. A warehouse that almost looks like a giant hanger storing somewhere around 300 people. The same army cot formation. Packed side-to-side like sardines in a can no further than two to three inches apart. Because of the large capacity, this facility is a little more high profile requiring security with scanning devices and a bag check. Large bags are not allowed. And I wouldn’t recommend bringing anything valuable like a laptop because there is no doubt about it, it will get stolen. Which is pretty much to be expected in this particular environment. That’s all a shelter really is, an asylum for the mentally and criminally insane. And like all shelters once you enter you are officially on lockdown,  stepping outside only for the routine release of a ten-minute cigarette break which usually occurs at one to two-hour intervals. In many ways it’s a lot like being imprisoned, just minus the dandy uniforms. The security is definitely necessary, these places can get a little rowdy. Fights tend to break out on a regular basis, and there have been many times when I have seen the residents challenge the guards themselves although that rarely ends off in their favour. But usually if you just stay to yourself and don’t get involved you’ll be fine. You can expect this type of chaos and loud ruckus to extend throughout the entire night so don’t expect a quiet slumber anytime soon. And when they finally do turn the lights off (most of them), which is usually around midnight, the orchestra will graciously serenade you to sleep with a lovely symphony of coughs, snoring, heaving breathing, and flatulence. Then it’s lights on around 5:00 am at which point it is time to receive the boot. I wouldn’t exactly describe this as luxurious living but I guess it could be a lot worse. So, I can’t really complain, it’s still a better alternative to sleeping on the sidewalk (though not by much).

14 comments:

  1. ange11216/27/2012

    Whatever you do...do not stop writing! As I've told you before, you have such talent for it! Stay positive, blog (and twitter!) friend!! It's the ultimate secret to surviving!!! ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll admit, it gets more and more difficult.  But thanks for the vote of confidence.  I'll try.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ange11216/28/2012

    I find that when I am down or having a rough time I go to my photography. It gives me a way to see things from a different perspective and helps me see things clearer. I'm in a different world when I see things behind that camera lens. I can't say that I've ever experienced what you are experiencing but do you think that if you find your true calling or your talent (writing!!!), you can resort to that? It may not keep the bed bugs away (sorry about that!) but I bet it would help clear your mind. Find your own happiness--no one can take that away from you. Own it! ;o)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nicole6/29/2012

    Are you due for a little visit to Ocean Beach, Venice or where ever? Have you been to Chinatown lately? Did you give up your exploring outside of Skid Row? I check your blog everyday. I consider you a friend, what can I do to help? Please know I'm in your corner. 
    Your friend,
    Nicole

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nicole6/29/2012

    PS. I believe you have my email address, do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    Nicole

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'll admit, there does seem to be a bit of therapy to writing.   I don't know if I am good enough to label it a calling, but it does help me take my mind of of things once in a while.  Even though lately I am not having many inspiring things to write about.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you for the kind words, Nicole.  And special thanks for continuing the to follow.  I hope you don't mind but I would like to consider you a friend as well.  I'm sure that I have lost many subscribers by now but I can only write about what I am going through as it is more of a journal than anything else.   So lately, I've been kind of stuck.  Every solution I try to develop crumbles rapidly and I'm just struggling to pick up the pieces.  But I'll eventually find a way.  I have to, I have no choice.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love emails! Mmmm.. yummy email.s..

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree with Ange...you have a wonderful way of writing about your experiences...stay with it and you never know how it will help, or where it will take you.  Of course, as long as you enjoy the process.  Stay safe and I hope you find whatever solution that is best for you and your journey.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks, I really appreciate the comment. I guess I'm just trying to find my way in this world. Just like anybody else.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nicole7/21/2012

    Just wanted to stop by and say Hi!

    Take care

    Nicole

    ReplyDelete
  12. Aw thanks, Nicole.  You really are a sweethart.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Soxandnicole8/20/2012

    How is it going? Have you been to Chinatown lately?
    Thinking of you.
    Your friend
    Nicole

    ReplyDelete
  14. Unfortunately, I haven't but I really want to because there's a dragon bracelet that I really want there that I was unable to procure at the time because the only store that had it sold out of them quickly due to popular demand (Year of the Dragon). I'm just trying to loosen this noose around my neck a little so I can venture out a bit. You're such a great buddy, Nicole. Thanks for always checking up on me. You can e-mail if you like so you don't have to come back to the same post :) nowhereman@nomadwayoflife.com

    ReplyDelete

Write anything you want..