Pre Dawn Wake Up Courtesy Of Police

So, I had been staying at the Vinny (St Vincent DePaul Shelter) – was there for about 4 weeks.   The case manager of Veterans Community Services arranged for me to stay there while she was supposedly finding me housing.   Well, after a month of her stringing me along and providing nothing but lip service, I left the Vinny for the less obtrusive life of cement surfing.  If Veterans Community Services finds suitable housing for me, they know how to contact me, but I’m not going to continue playing games with them. It is becoming increasingly clear that most homeless case management consists of nothing but social workers shuffling paperwork while the homeless solve their own homelessness.  Yet when the homeless find a way off the streets, the case management takes credit for it.

In recent days I’ve been sleeping only in my sleeping bag because I was taking my time getting down to the area where I sleep and there has been no room for setting up my tent.  So, I would just find a wide enough space between two other sleeping homeless people and fill it – rolling out my sleeping bag and setting up my back pack like a head stone, the most secure place for it while I sleep.

But last night I made a point of going down early and claiming a spot for my tent.  It was 7:30pm.

As per the rules given to the homeless, by way of law enforcement’s current interpretation of new laws regarding homeless behavior, the police have instructed the homeless that they may sleep on the sidewalk from 9pm until 6am.   Any other time, and the police could site us for illegal lodging.

When I got down to the sleeping area, I took a few things out of my cart (yes I have a cart now) and spread them out along the chain link fence, so to claim that area for my tent.  And I sat there among my things until 9pm.   Then I set up my tent, put all my things inside the tent, and lastly, put myself inside the tent, and grinned.  Being in the tent gives me an immediate sense of privacy, despite there being many homeless people around.  They couldn’t see me, and I couldn’t see them, and I could relax.  My anxiety usually keeps me in a state of tension while homeless – the privacy of the tent gives me a noticeable sense of relief of that tension.  Last night I had the best sleep I’ve had in some time.  Now, I’m actually more comfortable sleeping on cement than on a mattress – it’s better sleep than I get when staying at a motel.

In the middle of the night, last night, I heard the sounds of someone very close to my tent.  He had positioned himself to sleep between my tent and other people near by.  His coughing, his rustling of blankets etc., was loud, being that he was so close.   Then I heard the unmistakable sound of a bottle being knocked over and its liquid contents sloshing around.    I thought – I hoped – that the bottle’s lid was securely in place.   When I got up a couple hours later, so to take a piss, I found that that was not the case.  The guy had spilled the contents of the bottle and it ran underneath my tent.  Sure, my tent is waterproof, but it still made the tent wet, and smelly.  He had spilled coffee with a great deal of creamer in it.  Now I’ll have to find a way to clean the tent.  Guilt over the spillage must have motivated him to leave the area, cause he was gone when I’d gone out to empty my urine container at 3:30am.

At about 5:30am I awoke to someone walking along the sidewalk, waking people up and saying “The cops are here.”   I poked my head out of my tent, and sure enough, at the end of the block several cop cars sat idling.   Everyone along the sidewalk started getting up, packing up their things and leaving the area.

Being that my packing up involves several things I must do inside the tent, people on the outside of it assume that I’m not getting read to leave, including, evidently, the cops.  Most people had left the area by 5:45am, but I was still inside the tent, rolling up my sleeping bag, etc., when I heard the sound of a  car’s engine nearby.  From his car a cop called out to me and told me I needed to tear down my tent.  I called back saying I was working on it.  He drove away.   Just a couple minutes later I was done with things inside the tent and came out to find all the police had left.

It does seem that the cops were going to just sit in their cars until 6am, then ticket all the homeless who were there.  That someone noticed the cops near by and rousted everyone so that they could leave the area before 6am thwarted those plans.   I had everything packed up, even wiped off the bottom of my tent as best I could, and was on my way by 5:50am.  I then caught the nearby trolley, headed for this McDonalds.


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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