This is the second 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.
Going a few days without food isn’t hard for most people. So, before you hear the rumbling of your empty belly, a new threat happens. Buildings are closing. Night is approaching and you are officially homeless for the first time in your life. Maybe you were smart enough to sleep during your first day so you can roam the streets at night. You probably have a couple options:
1. Breaking and entering
2. Finding a safe spot you won’t be bothered.
When I was homeless I chose number one. At night I would try every single door handle on campus. The janitors were usually cleaning and could find something. I’d prefer buildings I could have an excuse to be in and lock like an outdoor bathroom. If questioned, I could say I had to use the restroom while up and about and this was open. If questioned, I could say I locked the bathroom because it was the middle of the night and I was scared. As a final precaution, I usually preferred to sleep on the toilet with my pants on my ankles. I always wanted an excuse to be where ever I was. If I heard the janitor coming in I had my excuses, pulled up my pants, flushed the toilet, and nobody would be none the wiser. Luckily I was never caught. Plenty of times someone checked if the door was unlocked.
(The above image was taken by JoeTaxpayer in 1994 on his honeymoon in Paris)
Next best building was a building with a 24 hour computer lab. I slept in computer labs plenty of times where the lab monitor just told me to close the door behind me when I left. He thought I was a student. But typically a building with a computer lab if I had access to the first door (wasn’t locked) I could safely roam the entire building.
Other buildings that were opened I was thankful the cleaning crew listened to music. I just had to be on the opposite side of where the music was coming from and look for the cleanest rooms. They would have cleaned that room already and had no reason to be back if I was quiet. Once found, I’d look for parts in the room that was hidden from the door. Closets were good. Hallway bathrooms weren’t as good because I couldn’t lock them and had no excuse of being in them if the janitor needed to use it.
When no doors were accessible I started to check windows. I think one night I found a window. I had to crawl under tables to find a door to a hallway then was safe. I didn’t want to be spotted outside. One night I found a frozen burrito in the teachers’ lounge. I didn’t dare use the microwave. I ate it a few hours later when I thought it would be less frozen. It wasn’t. One night I fell asleep pretending to read a book. I got woken up by the janitor and a cop. They looked at my “stay awake” pills, ran my ID to see if I had a record, and told me to try to stay awake next time.
When nothing else was available I found myself on the streets, looking for a locked dumpster or anything else that would provide a couple hours of safety. This happened every single night I was homeless. Luckily, during the day time I found a spot I felt safe. During the weekends, though, even that wasn’t safe as buildings were closed.
Next Week – Safety From What?