Sunday, February 2, 2014

FYI Freeways Suck

I bailed out of my place at around a quarter after six, Tuesday, having woken out of a nap sprawled out on the floor with my head propped on my rolled-up sleeping bag; I was waiting for a couple neighbors to swing by earlier with a bit of chronic to send me off into the rainy night with some cheer. Of course, no one showed up, so I stumbled out of my "home" for the past four-and-a-half years with my monster trekking backpack loaded with my clothes and sleeping bag, while wheeling a heavy-ass K-Mart-special Mongoose in one hand and lugging my “homeless swag” in the other ... after having tossed a can of "ultra premium" to one of the neighbors who flaked out on me.

Go figure it would rain as soon as I was scheduled to beat my feet, after weeks of abnormally dry and even sometimes balmy days. It was dark out, of course, and I couldn't carry all that crap, so I ended up schlepping a few blocks down to the side of a freeway on-ramp I used to occasionally drink and crash at years ago when I was a street drunk. There I inaugurated my return to homelessness, spending the first four nights until I moved my spot close to the Northwest industrial district. It was no place to be, and three events in particular underscored how vulnerable I was while there: 1) on my first night there an obvious street druggie girl came by shortly after I crawled into my Gore-Tex™ coffin motel, asking if I was Jesse (or some similar-sounding name); 2) early Friday morning I woke up to what sounded like a shopping cart being thrown on its side nearby and when I took a look I saw that some guy had nailed a cyclist in his car, making me grit my teeth for the next forty-five minutes in anticipation of police harassment after the incident had been reported — fortunately I was left alone (and fortunately for the cyclist it wasn't a hit-and-run!); but 3) the most portentous event occurred at around 8:00 AM on Saturday while I was breaking down my shelter and getting ready to break fast at St. Stephen's, when I saw three shady-looking guys creeping down a street nearby with beer-shaped plastic bags in their hands — the kind of people who look like they'd date rape and rob a hooker, and as such wouldn't be above rolling a homeless guy for some cash and gear to sell.

Racial profiling? Don't give me that; I've found that on the streets and in welfare hotels and flop houses that you're at least waist-deep in petty predation, and I would have felt sketched out if it was a gaggle of rough-and-tumble Mexican illegals or a single scrawny white guy obviously spun out on bathtub crank. Or a cop, for that matter.

I'm definitely pleased with the move! It's noisy beneath the freeways perched on pylons far above me, but I actually felt pretty safe last night, and with the ear plugs the noise didn't deprive me of sleep any more than the previous did. Unless the thick foam mat I found Friday night gets stolen along with the brown tarp it's wrapped in, tonight should be a similarly pleasant rest. You see, it's not just the noise that causes homeless people to sleep poorly — or even the discomfort — it's the fear that jerks us out of slumber at the slightest suspicious sound. Once I manage to get a small one-man tent and a compact air mattress I'll probably make that area my new home, at least until the encroaching gentrification summons police harassment or the sketchy ghouls migrate in en masse. It struck me yesterday at a feed that I've regularly gone to over the years just how low the creep index always has seemed to be in that area, is why I chose that location. Alas, being below two freeways means there's a lot of vehicle emissions, which my smoker's and asthmatic lungs don't need, but I plan on getting a filtration mask before summer.

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