First Night On The Street

About midnight I found a dog park, well lighted, near the convention center, still part of the gas lamp district.  I’d been walking, almost continuously, for 8 hours.   My dogs were tired (dogs = feet), so I sat down for a spell.   I took my shoes off for a minute, rubbed the balls of my feet, put my shoes back on.   It was quieter in the park than in the Gas lamp district.   My eyes closed, I’m not sure how long.   I heard a loud voice and my eyes opened.  

    “It may be a public park, but you can’t sleep here and make it your home.” he said.

      I looked at him, said, “thanks.”

He was the door man of a swanky hotel next to the park.    I laced my shoes back up, but stayed their in the park chair.  A few short minutes later I saw a cop come walking up towards me.   I looked up at and said, “hello.”   He mumbled a “hello” back to me, and walked past me at a good clip, into the lobby of the swanky hotel.   Thankfully the cop didn’t see me with my eye’s closed.   Whether or not I was a sleep is a matter for speculation.  I won’t dwell on it.

I didn’t want to run off, looking guilty, so I sat their for a while longer before getting up and walking away.   The Gas Lamp district is a crazy tourist trap, bars, restaurants, dance clubs.  It covers MANY square blocks.  About 1 a.m. I wanted to get inside somewhere cool and where I could sort of blend in.  And they wouldn’t mind my dressed down appearance, or that I was traveling alone.   The closest place was a Hooters restaurant.  Grilled chicken sandwich and a large coke – 15 bucks – tipped 5 more to make it easy.    There was a little Mexican man working the restroom inside the Hooters.  He had quite an elaborate set up.  I just wanted to wash my hands.   Before I could reach the faucet, he had already turned the water on.  As I got my hands wet, he readied the soap.  I didnt’ have anything with which to tip him.  I told him I’d come back.   After eating, I dug through my back pack and found 4 quarters.  I ran back to the restroom and threw the change into his tip basket.   This Hooters had wifi, so I dwelled their a while before setting out to hike around once again.

I had spent a few hours earlier in the day at a McDonalds and in a Starbucks, to suck up the wifi.  To justify being in these establishments I’d order at least a coke, or coffee.   My bladder was filling up every couple hours.

I walked from the Hooters until I found the Sally (the Salvation Army) in downtown, not far from the Gas Lamp district.  I saw several homeless people sleeping up against the outer wall of the place,  so I figured it was safe to do so.  When I was run off from the Dog Park earlier, there were no other homeless people around, so I figured I wouldn’t’ be staying there very long anyway.  Once I found the Sally, I needed to drain my bladder again, so I went looking for a place.   No such place around.  There are a few small 24hour Subway restaurants around, but they wouldn’t let me use their restrooms.   I passed the Hooters again.  Walked straight in like I owned the place, past the Hostess who gave me an odd look, and all the way to back where the restrooms where.   Ah, relief!

Then I walked back to the Sally and took my place among the sleeping homeless.   Sat on the ground with my back up against the wall.  I shot a short video.   The city noises were loud, the drunk 20-somethings, and street traffic, someone dumping a crash can full of glass bottles into a dumpster, etc.   For a while I just sat, but that was making my feet go numb.  So, I laid down, having nothing to place between me and the sidewalk.  Used my stuffed backpack as a pillow.  Positioned my hat to block as much of the street lamp light as I could.  I wondered if I would end up smelling as much like urine as the sidewalk did.

I couldn’t sleep, but I could relax some.   Peeking out from under the hat, I watched as a homeless guy walked past me and approach the woman sleeping next to me.  He stole her cane and walked away.   A couple minutes later he came walking back.  He walked near and then past me, and stopped.   From the shadow he cast,blocking the street light, I could tell he was standing over me.   I figured that if he knew I was awake, he’d leave me alone.   I reached up to adjust my hat.   He walked away.   I had one arm through one of the straps on my backpack as I laid there, just in case.

In the district, all the clubs and bars close at the same time, and there was a rush of traffic.  Then things quieted down.  The only people around were the other homeless and a few club employees closing down for the night.    At this time, about 2:30am I got yet another urge to pee.    What was I going to do?  Look for a dark alley and hope a cop wouldn’t catch me watering the asphalt?   There were a  few 24 hour shops around, but no one had public restrooms.   Finally, a guy working in a 7/11 told me of the only public restroom in downtown.  It was just three blocks away.   I was about to burst when I got there.   A man was in a security booth, keeping an eye on things.  A few homeless people were hovering around.  I was able to “go” in an actual commode, thank god. 

By this time it was 4am.  I found a nicer looking Subway sandwich shop.  Got myself another diet coke. and sat in the back of the seating area, along with some other people, some with their heads down on the tables.  They didn’t have wifi, so I pulled out my Sudoku puzzle book and worked it for the 2 hours until the sun began to rise.

Looking for wifi, I hit one Starbucks, and then another.  The first didn’t have electrical outlets, the other had no wifi signal.   I think walked several more blocks to the Starbucks where I am now.  

I must have walked several miles last night, often struggling to get past the crowded sidewalks.  I had seen several homeless people during this time – some trying to sleep, others trying to busk.  I found one lady who had displayed some of her “art work” on the ground for people to look at and possibly buy, on their way to the clubs.   I wonder how much of it she actually sells.  I wonder if she’d let me show her how to make Mandalas.

Today is now Sunday.   After having breakfast, I’m gonna locate the Rescue Mission and see if I can get a bed for the night.

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About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless

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