So, it happens that at the first of the month many homeless people receive a check, usually from the government, or from a pension, and they spend the first few days of the month in a motel or cheap hotel. In Nashville, there are so few motels that the homeless can afford that these places become drug and crime dens. In San Diego, which is a much bigger city, there are many hotels so the homeless have more options, and a person like myself can find an affordable place (for a couple days, at least) away from the druggies and crazies. In downtown San Diego, that place is called 500 West, which used to belong to the YMCA. It is an SRO style building with tiny rooms, and restrooms and showers down the hall.
I have stayed at this placed several times, as I could afford to do so. Not only was it inexpensive but it had a nostalgic bit of history for me, as this was the place where my parents met. Staying there was certainly better than being on the street, as it was much safer and I could enjoy a bit of privacy, as well as sleeping on a mattress.
But, there are problems with staying at this hotel. First of all, there is no air conditioning in the rooms. In the summer, the rooms of the old brick building heat up like an oven, and the only relief is to open the window and turn on the ceiling fan. Even that did little to cool the cool off. It did help, though, if I left the door to the room open, propped open with a book or some such thing, so to catch some of the cross breeze flowing down the hall. This created the additional problem at night when all the drunken revelers are about. Guys shouting, girls screaming, and music blaring from pedicabs. Pedicabs are bicycle powered taxis for the tourists. Leaving the windows open let out some of the heat but let in all the noise. And for this noise, sleep was often disrupted. Still the price of the room, made it worthwhile to stay there.
Well, recently, 500 West has been pushing up their rates. I guess business has been good. But I did some shopping around and found another hotel, that, for only $7.50 more per night, I could have a regular hotel room with a shower and bathtub and toilet. And best of all, air conditioning. So, for the past couple nights, that’s where I stayed. It was the quietest couple of nights I’ve experienced since coming to San Diego.
Of course tonight I’ll be back on the street with my tent, but, if I can discipline my spending and can save enough month, I’ll be back in a hotel room again next week.