As someone who was once homeless and almost was again, I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. My experience was not like the people you see begging out on the streets, that I can say for sure. As a former homeless person, I see them out there and I just get so confused. If I got by on being homeless, why can’t they?
I’m not saying that being homeless didn’t suck. During the two months I was homeless, I got sent home from work for pink eye. Where was I supposed to go? What was I supposed to do on my weekends? What about after work? You never know when this might happen to you and if it does, I want to help you be, what I consider, “effectively homeless”.
First things first, being homeless does not also mean that you don’t have a job. This happened to me the first year of my big corporate job, and as long as you keep your appearance up, there shouldn’t be any problems. Hell, only one person at work knew that I was homeless at the time, and that’s because I had told her (because we were friends). Being homeless doesn’t mean you have to lose your job as well. It’s better if you don’t because then you can bounce back after. How to not lose your job is to still dress well, be cleanly (I’ll go into this), and don’t let people know. I told that girl because she was my friend and I trusted her. I didn’t tell anyone else, because if it had gotten around to my boss, I’m sure he could’ve found some way to fire me. I don’t know if that’s legal, but I don’t push my luck, either.
If you don’t have a job, spend all your time trying to get one. Give old addresses or parents’ addresses or if need be, get a P. O. Box. They come relatively cheap. Need internet to submit applications, you say? Try coffee shops if you have a laptop and a library if you don’t. Perserve! Apply for any and every position! Waiting tables or bartending can make good money, and they hire just about anyone! (Trust me, they hired me.)
So, being clean when you don’t own a shower. Sounds hard, right? Well, you don’t have to shower every day. As gross as this may sound, go every three days, or however long it is until your hair gets greasy or your b.o. appears. If you have a gym membership, it’s an excellent place to go take showers. If you don’t, sign up for a cheap one (Planet Fitness is only $10 a month) or see if you can use a friend’s. Speaking of friends, I’m sure some of them may let you use theirs whenever you go over there for dinner. If it’s not cold, there’s rivers and lakes and oceans, depending where you live. Unfortunately, my homelessness began in October, so that didn’t help me. There were definitely some days where I was pushing that clean line.
So you know how to clean yourself up and how to get money. The next question is, where do you sleep? I really wish I had been homeless during the summer. I would’ve just pitched a tent in some woods. Unfortunately, it was cold, so the backseat of my car had to do. It was a little cramped, but otherwise, very similar to camping. And hey, now I’m not so opposed to sleeping in my car! But then comes the question of where can one park their car to sleep? Legally, Walmart must allow you to sleep in your car in their parking lots. Don’t make a huge habit of it, but it is useful knowledge. Don’t sleep on the literal side of the road. Find a park and ride, or one of those side of the road pull-offs with a bathroom and some vending machines. It’s not your safest choice, but it is an option. Otherwise, check in with friends. See if you can crash there. Don’t overstay your welcome, but maybe one night a week, stay over Ashley’s house, then Brenda’s house the next night. There’s also your parents’. If you don’t want them to know, come over with the guise of “doing laundry” and then get too tired to go home. I would strongly not recommend going to sleep out in the open in the city. Just because the other homeless do it, doesn’t mean you should, too. They get pretty territorial and some may stab you in your sleep just for your shoes.
What do you do as a homeless person? Well, any time not spent trying not to be homeless could be spent on a variety of things. Remember that gym membership? Want to lose those pounds you’ve been putting on since all you do is eat out now? Well, that membership can definitely come in handy. There’s also the library. Check out some books or use their free computers. Go hiking. Visit with some family or friends. But seriously, those books will become your best friends. You’ll knock out most of your summer reading. And if you don’t like that idea, stay late at work. It shows initiative and gets you overtime. Not a bad deal.
Now, you may think that by reading this, homelessness doesn’t sound so bad. It sucks. It really just sucks. I yearned for my stuff and a bed. I wanted nothing more than to just lay in my bed, to just have a place to put my stuff. I longed for stability. When time was getting short and it looked like I would be homeless again, I honestly couldn’t handle it. It’s not easy and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But if this somehow does happen to you, I hope you find this post and it helps you.