This is a response to the Nation Article : “Ten Things You Need to Know to Live on the Streets” To be fair, this is a fine post. Just not the ten things I found most usefull.
- Trust no one. People will lie to you and try to use you. Accept their lies without commitment but do not buy into them. If you think someone is trying to use you, use them carefully for what you need, but do not trust them. At the same time, try to bring out the best in the people around you. Often even crooked people want to see themselves in a good light. Try to encourage that goodness.
- Trust your gut. You pick up signals subconsciously that you may not recognize. If somethings feels wrong, however good it sounds, it probably is.
- The people with the least to lose often have the most to give. Make alliances with other homeless people, remembering to follow rules 1 & 2. Learn as much as you can from those around you. Help others as you want to be helped. Remember to share. Hide anything of value that you don’t want to share (I kept some money in a cloth pad in my underwear). Find a traveling partner, and watch each others backs.
- The garbage can be your best friend. People throw out tons of useful things. Dumpsters, trash cans, ground-scores (things left on the ground), are all good sources of food, clothing and saleables. Thirsty? Dig in a trash can for a water bottle, wash it out and fill it up. For the most part stick to produce or sealed, packaged foods from dumpsters, as restaurants have been known to pour bleach on their food.
- Going to the bathroom is not a right. If you are a girl you must get used to peeing outside. Pooping is more problematic. Use whatever bathrooms you can find, but be prepared to struggle to get to that ceramic bowl. If you must poop outside, try to cover it up or poop somewhere out of the way.
- You are a second class citizen. Expect to be treated that way. If you are underage loose your ID. If you use a false name, keep your story straightforward and simple. Memorize your new birth date. If approached by the cops they can pretty much do what they want. Try not to provoke them or get into phillisophical discussions with them while high .
- Get good gear. You only have what you can carry, so make it count. You need a blanket or sleeping bag, tarp, maybe a tent. Cardboard cam make a softer bed, or get a camping mat. A knife or two is good too. Keep it within legal limits. You can also use a chain or even a fork in self defense if you have to. If you are at all creative, get art supplies or an instrument. Not only will they enrich your time, but they can be tools for making money. Sleep in your shoes. Wipe your feet with alcohol pads regularly to fight boot rot.
- Sleep in shelters only if you are sick. Shelters degrade your the one thing that you have on the streets: your freedom. Likewise make sparing use of youth centers, free meals, etc…(Although these are excellent sources for free clothes and showers.) They dehumanize you with excessive rules. Campsites in the woods or in parks are the best, but be careful who you invite into your space, and always get up early in the morning and clear out. Be prepared to go for days or weeks without enough sleep.
- When you ask for help, try to put out some positivity and/or humor. Remember that the more desperate you come accross, the less people will want to help you.
- You are not homeless. Your home is in your heart. You are house-less.
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