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My Daily Life and Thoughts while in San Diego | List of Best Posts
This blog is where I express myself to the world or at least to those who might stop by to read what I post . Maybe God will use what I post (I am a Christian and this blog will have a most decidedly Christian bent to it) to good effect in the lives of my readers.

I may turn some of my posts into a book. I may cease blogging here altogether. Who knows. But for now..I am content to post away in this, my own little corner of the world.

Rather than reading through my now lengthy list of posts you may wish to read what I consider to be my very best posts or you can just read the posts that deal with a single subject category that might interest you.

Please know that I am open to any input on any topic I write about. If you have something to say about anything you see written here please....feel free to speak up in the form of leaving a comment or sending me a PM (private message).

And if you are in San Diego and wish to meet the one and only Carlos (that's me )...drop me a private message. I always enjoy meeting one of my readers!

Thanks.

Carlos

PS. If you want to follow my blog such that you will get an email when I write new posts you can subscribe to my blog.
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I spy out the homeless lifestyle...

Posted 03-12-2010 at 03:28 PM by carlos123
Updated 03-13-2010 at 08:39 AM by carlos123 (Changed to prevent possible identification of where some persons are staying and who I talked to.)


This is the story of how my first day spying out the homeless lifestyle went.

I went downtown the day before yesterday on Wednesday but really didn't have time to blog about it till now.

It was both a very refreshing day and a very discouraging day.

Refreshing in the sense that I got away from the middle to upper class suburbia existence I have lived in for the last few months and got back into interacting with people at a real level without all the facade.

And depressing in that it seemed that I was headed to be homeless.

It's not that the homeless part was all that discouraging to me. It's not. I mean it's rough but kinda of an adventure at the same time.

The really discouraging part was the thought that my Christian brothers and sisters were leaving me alone to go live on the streets. That was the part that was most discouraging though the Lord encouraged me later on to realize that if that happens that this is the way they are treating Him (see previous post for a fuller explanation of this).

Anyway I first headed to the St. Vincents soup kitchen. As I walked over to the soup kitchen I felt a bit out of place. I mean I did not have the proverbial shopping cart with my sleeping stuff that homeless people are always attached to. I was reasonably well dressed and groomed.

I just didn't fit the stereotypical homeless looking person.

But...I went forward knowing that I had no choice but to start immersing myself in learning how to survive on the streets.

So I walked in and did what I usually do when confronted with circumstances I am not familiar with. I started asking questions of anyone around me that looked anywhere reasonably willing to answer some.

You know...the kind of face that doesn't say, "Get Lost!" at first glance LOL.

Yes...there were some of those around.

I went to the soup line and in answer to my questions some gracious homeless (I guess they were homeless) persons told me I needed a badge. So after a few more questions to some other down and out looking and other assorted individuals I made it to some kind of line composed of persons milling about for who knows what (a young woman eventually came out and like a good natured, really good drill sergeant instructed us to get up against the wall and form a couple of proper lines...you could tell that she was all kind underneath but I guess that was just the way of getting people to do what needed to be done).

Anyway, once we were more or less properly lined up, I proceeded to tell the nearest reasonably nice looking (I don't mean in looks but demeanour) woman that I was about to become homeless and was wondering where one might go to sleep?

She looked at me kinda funny at first like one might look at someone wondering if they are really serious but...I guess she believed me because she started sharing all kinds of tips with me. I hit the jackpot!

She told me about an abandoned campsite, a secret place you see, out of town where her and about 8 or 9 other homeless persons were camping. That the cops out in (name of city withheld to protect the privacy of homeless persons) where much nicer than the cops in San Diego and that they only checked on them once every four weeks. Her eyes seemed to light up as she told me all this as if she was describing some grand way of living that only a select few would've known about. Like she was sharing some neat secret with me.

I just smiled and listened intently cataloging in my brain every little tid bit of information she was giving me that might prove helpful.

She had purchased an 8 man tent and was living in it. Others also had tents in the same abandoned campground. Within view of the ocean even!

She left her stuff out there every day and no one ever bothered it and had been doing this for the past 6 months.

My turn in line came up and I was then ushered into an office of sorts where my photo was taken and I was asked to fill in some information after which I received my official card entitling me to meals at St. Vincents.

At one point I sheepishly asked one staff member if I looked homeless enough since I felt sort out of place. I know...kinda of a dumb question but hey...I was just trying to get some validation that it was okay for me, a clean cut middle class sort of looking guy, to be around in a homeless shelter.

She put her hand on my shoulder and told me in the first soft feminine voice I had heard there...that I looked okay. That was nice of her.

It was the same drill sergeant who had barked out orders a few minutes before. I had been right about there being a softer side to her in there somewhere!

After getting my card...I then went back and got into line for the noon day meal.

While in line I started talking to people again.

The man behind me was from Mexico and had come up to look for work. He explained to me that Mexico was in a state of permanent recession compared to the States and that it was still better up here.

As we talked he also explained to me how I could get a bus pass for super cheap though I would never do what he did to get one...still it was interesting.

He apparently had gotten a senior to buy him a bus pass who in turn had given it to him for the senior rate of $18 + some little odd items given to the senior in exchange.

I thought to myself "How enterprising!". The reason I said I would never do that is that I think it says on the pass that you can't give it to someone else. I wouldn't want to take advantage of some poor senior and have them violate their conscience to give me what they shouldn't. Still, like I said...pretty enterprising.

Speaking of a bus pass the lady with the 8 person tent had told me that she gets on the trolley, since the campsite is quite a ways out of the city, and rides it until she sees the trolley security board. She then scoots right off and hops on the next trolley. Again not something I would do but you got to hand it to these people.

I mean they know how to milk the system for everything that it is worth. I admire their industriousness if not their methods.

The meal at the soup kitchen was surprisingly quite good. Sauteed chicken bits along with some kind of stringy noodle, a side of delicious salad, and some real, I mean real whole wheat bread. And I found out that I could go back into the line as often as I want. I will definitely be going back for seconds in the future.

I sat down across from a lady who at first started laughing while looking at me in a weird almost devilish kind of way. The thought crossed my mind that the devil was laughing at me at which point the lady put a newspaper in front of her face to shield her laughing.

Eventually she put the paper down and we started talking some. You could tell there was some kind of problem with this woman but I thought it interesting that at one point she told me that the "righteous will prevail!" That struck me as an interesting thought given that in the eyes of God I am forgiven and considered righteous by my heavenly Father.

After our lunch I couldn't get this lady to stop talking to me. I guess she came to find out that I was a good listener and took advantage of the opportunity my company seemed to give her.

I finally had to tell her thank you but that I had to go and we parted company. She actually lived at St. Vincents.

Afterwards I checked to make sure that there were bathrooms available and determining that there were and that their hours of operation were quite reasonable I headed out to a storage place for the homeless to see if I could store my inflatable camping mattress there while continuing to look for work or otherwise.

So far I had checked and found a place to eat, shower, and use the bathroom. That was a relief.

As I turned a corner a few blocks away to head for the storage place whose name I had been given I was met by shopping carts the likes of which I don't think I'd ever seen before. These were the Taj Mahal shopping carts of the chronically homeless. Not your typical, simple shopping cart you might see on a homeless person here and there. I mean these things were so full of stuff and so covered over with tarps and what not that you could barely tell there was any kind of shopping cart underneath the mess.

One man was feeding pigeons. Over and over again he would throw a bit of bread to them as if there was nothing better in the whole world to do than...well...feed pigeons.

When I got near the storage place...more filled to the brim and then some shopping carts. Tons of them. I'd never seen so many homeless shopping carts in one place. I mean the whole street was like shopping cart alley or something.

That may be a bit exaggerated but I guess I was rather surprised at the sight.

Unfortunately the storage place told me that I would not be able to put my single, professional camping Thermarest mattress and my one blanket in their storage unit. That they were trying to attend to the storage needs of 22,000 homeless and that they had to make good use of their storage space. If I had had more junk they might have been able to accommodate me.

Seems that I will have to cart my sleeping stuff around everywhere I go or leave it at the abandoned camping site, along with the stuff from others, and take my chances on it being there every night when I return.

As I left the storage place I asked a man who I had seen sitting on a suitcase when I came in if he knew of any place I could store my stuff. He didn't know. I was particularly struck by the utter hopelessness of the way this man answered me. Like he was completely depressed, feeling useless, and unable to even give me any advice that might have been useful. That was sad.

I wonder what Jesus would have done.

I then tried to head out to check the camping site but it started raining and it was way out further than I had thought so I turned around and came right back on the public transportation I had been on and headed back to try and register at a place that had been suggested to me by a woman who PM'ed me on this very forum. A place that might be able to help me with a bus pass.

On the way there I asked a young lady who had gotten on with a bunch of other young people if there was a college nearby thinking that perhaps I could start a Christian fellowship among them or something...at which point an older gentlemen sitting next to me piped up and said "Yeah...that place is full of banditos! All they ever want to do is get girls pregnant and smoke marijuana!" I thought it was pretty funny the way he piped up like that.

I eventually got off at the wrong stop and was a bit lost so I figured I would ask the person wearing a funny looking costume advertising some local business which way to the big yellow building I had been heading to LOL. A building that was nowhere in site.

The poor gentlemen who was probably suffocating to death kept taking off his costume head to talk to me and give me directions.

He even crossed the street to point out to me where to take another bus to where I needed to go.

Turns out he was working just a few hours a day doing his costume bit because it was the only job he had been able to get. He was a felon recently released and was telling me how hard it was to get a job as a former felon. That his wife was five months pregnant and that because they couldn't get a place together (too expensive) that he had to live separately from her in singles housing. We chatted some more until I took my bus.

It's quite amazing the stories people tell me about their lives when I show some sincere interest and listen to whatever they want to tell me.

Admittedly he might have been making some of that up but he seemed sincere.

This is one of those times that on later reflection might have been a good time to use a Gospel tract to hand out to him.

That's one of the things about a homeless lifestyle. I will come in contact with a whole lot more people than living in front of my computer in my own private bedroom in suburbia somewhere. All the more ministry opportunity I think which idea I like very much.

Anyway I checked out the work place (sure enough the tip I had been given was right on...it was much better than the place downtown), headed for Walmart where I got some shaving cream, and then took the long way home by further trolley and bus.

That was my first day spying out the homeless lifestyle in San Diego. Not a bad start and fruitful with respect to helping me get a feel for what it's going to be like and where I might go for things.

I talked with others too but I am too tired to blog about everyone I met and talked with that day but I thought you all might find my "adventure" that day interesting to read.

Carlos
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