It’s Almost Routine

Bathed in the amber light of night in the city, people lay in scattered lumps, pressed up against the walls of non-descript buildings; concrete as mattress, brick planter as night stand. It’s all the comforts of home for those without one. A stray dog barks at a man snoring. An old couple argues over the proper use of blankets. I wake and take the phone from my hip pocket to check the time. I have been asleep for 1 hour and 23 minutes. I feel the urge to urinate. But, I don’t have the urge to get up, pack up all my things, put on my shoes and socks, and walk the 8 city blocks to the public bathroom. Not right now, anyway.  My other hip, the one I’m laying on, hurts. I adjust my position but it doesn’t help. My calves cramp up because I’m too tight in the fetal position. I am laying on a short blanket and trying to keep my whole body on it. I’ve seen those homeless poeple who are covered in filth. I don’t want to be one of those.  The blanket is my only protection.

I wake and check my phone. It is almost 3am. Add one more hour to the amount of sleep I’ve had for the night – nearly 2 and 1/2 hours. I don’t feel sleepy. Maybe I’m too sleepy. The amber light from the decorative street lights is cut with flashes of blue and white.

Ignore it and it will go away – though not a healthy way to approach real life, it’s a philosophy that works fairly well on the streets. I choose to sleep facing a wall with my back to the street. But at this moment I consider getting up anyway.  I look across the street to the police cruiser. Next to it is an ambulance. Evidently, someone is hurt. I don’t bother to inquire. I stand up, pack up, hoist the back pack onto my shoulders, and head to the head. There are more homeless people milling about than usual.

The public restrooms, one for women, one for men, are small – one urinal, one commode, one sink. I don’t know about you, but when I take a shit I prefer to not have an audience. But it can’t be avoided in the public restoom. Not only is there no door to the commode, there are no walls either. I’m not a fan of seeing others shit either.  

It appears that the maximum number of people allowed in the public restroom at one time is three. When I arrive it’s a packed house and i have to wait. I stand outside the door waiting for several minutes. The guy in charge finally comes out of his office and looks through the vents of the door to see what’s going on inside. He then pulls out his key. But, instead of using the key in the lock, he sticks the key between the door and door jam, and releases the locking mechanizm that way. He holds the door and motions that I can go in.

Inside, there are three other men. I try to not pay attention to what the others are doing. I really don’t care what they do as long as they don’t try to involve me. it appears that two men are repacking their belongings, the third man is completely naked and half covered in soap suds, using the smallish sink as his source of water. Most of the water is running off him and soaking most of the floor. I’ve been holding it too long again. I take a long piss and walk right out. Outside, there’s another guy waiting to get in. I walk the three blocks up to the 24hr Subway restaurant. I buy three sugar cookies and a diet coke. The counter girl warms up the cookies for me, in the microwave. I take a seat, pull out my laptop and write this. It is now just a few minutes short of 4:30am. Starbucks will be open by the time I get there. This Subway does not have wifi. Starbucks does.

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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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