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Homeless: Safety from what?

This is the third post in an 8 part series on being homeless, by a guest author who goes by the name Dreamscaper. It’s my honor to share his story with my readers.

I was homeless with my life possessions in my backpack. I was (am) bipolar. If you never been truly homeless in your life, what could a homeless person be afraid of? What could a homeless person be afraid of? What do they have to lose?

The first weeks I was homeless I hustled poker and blackjack. I found people playing for quarters. Previously I was a card counter so blackjack was easy for me. I’d play either the house or had a nice bet spread while playing the player. I made a few bucks here and there. One day I was hustling a guy in this variant of poker that was forced. I was down $150 at that point and the next had I would have been up $300. The person I was trying to hustle called it quits at $150. I bounced him a check and he threatened my life. I laughed at him. Another person I was hustling in poker I found out was a gangbanger. I actually wasn’t too concerned. A gangbanger attending a university? Besides, I was homeless – I was suicidal. Please make good on your threats. Please.

I was sleeping on sofas and chairs in a dorm I used to live in until I was caught. I learned how to sleep while still being awake so if I heard footsteps or a door open I could wake up and walk outside as if I was never there. One day I got busted and took into an office with someone who was used to my residential adviser. He told me if I wasn’t 100% honest I’d be arrested for trespassing. I was. He let me go but said if I ever came back I’d be arrested. Weeks later he saw me on campus, and gave me his last $20 because he knew I needed it.

The things I didn’t experience include getting beat up, stabbed, killed. Who would try to find someone who stabbed or killed a homeless person? Doesn’t happen. Nobody cares. It’s almost the perfect crime for wannabe gang bangers. Luckily, my shoes have never been stolen. I had no backup supply. Who cares? Stores do. Stores have a no shirt, no shoes policy. How would I be able to steal food to get by if I didn’t have shoes? How could I still pretend to be a student on a university campus without shoes? Even if I recycled enough cans at night, how could I get in a store to buy shoes?

I was harassed by other homeless people. Walking downtown asking for some change? Nope. How about my watch? Nope. How about my headphones? Sorry. My little life possessions that couldn’t even fill up a shopping cart and here was some homeless person trying to get it. I had cans stolen when I tried to hide them.

Next Week – Eating and Survival

  • Get Out of Debt Guy August 9, 2011, 7:41 pm

    I’m always amazed at the stories homeless people have to share. I’ve interviewed homeless people before and I’ve always found them to be people just down on their luck. It’s amazing these days how close many people are to homelessness and never think about it. Great post.

  • JOE August 9, 2011, 7:45 pm

    Hi Steve, thanks for the visit and comment. More important, thanks for the great work you do, it’s my honor to know you.

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