Homeless Neighborhood Noises

Last night was like most nights except that there was more of it.  Again, last night I made my way down to where I camp for the night, earlier still, so to make sure no one else got that spot.  The rule of thumb that the police has taught the homeless, based on actual laws on the books, is, no camping before 9pm.  So, if you were to make your way down to the streets where the homeless sleep for the night, say, round about 9pm, you’d witness all the tents being set up, and all the other sleeping paraphernalia being splayed out on the sidewalks.

The weekend sounds of the street are becoming predictable.  From 9 to 10pm, the homeless people are chattering among themselves. If you’re in need for sleep, you might be able to get an hour or so in at this time. At 10pm the parade of party goers begins, mostly 20-somethings, park their cars wherever they can find a space, then they make their way down the streets where the homeless sleep, on their way to the night clubs.   This parade to the clubs is usually peaceful, though often obnoxious.  The young men are mostly dress like young executive types, as if they didn’t have time after work to change their clothes, and the young ladies are dressed mostly like high priced prostitutes.  Their dresses may be expensive, but they are still ultra short and ultra tight fitting.  Evidently “whore” is the new “pretty”.  The conversation between the men and women is often sweet and flirty.  This parade lasts until about 11pm.  Then the streets quiet down momentarily.

The quiet that comes after the initial parade to the clubs seems to unnerve some homeless people, usually the crazies.  As they near the usual time for sleep they begin to freak out a bit, start their hallucinating, become easily irritated, and they vocalize it.  Some get up from where they had bed down and begin pacing the streets and sidewalks, arguing with people both imaginary and real.  Yelling and cussing are common.  Evidently, euphemisms for “N*G**R”, are in short supply.  By midnight things quiet down again.  The next two hours are a good time to try and get in some sleep.

Then at 2am the return parade of young people begins.  Thoroughly inebriated, all the prettiness and politeness is gone, and the ability to find one’s car becomes a challenge for many.  At this point the behavior of the young ladies is now as trashy as their dress, and the need for the young men to express their virility bubbles to the surface.  Arguments and outright fights take place during this parade back to their vehicles, wherever those may be.   Most fights are between the club goers, but sometimes fights break out between club goers and the homeless.   Inhibitions lowered as alcohol consumption rises, some club goers target the homeless, considering them as easy prey, as exert their manliness.  It is always at this point that people’s ignorance about the homeless comes into sharp focus.  Seeing homeless people laying on the side of the road, one might assume the homeless to be weak and passive, if not completely docile.  Then reality breaks through the fog of ignorance and alcohol, and the revelers make a quick retreat.

When it’s just the party goers fighting among themselves, usually one of the instigator is traveling with a large number of other young men.  Brawls are likely.  Damage is often done to parked cars that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Brawls like these are fluid, reminiscent of a flock of pigeons flying in group around city buildings. That’s why, when I hear a fight coming closer to my location, the first thing I do is put my shoes back on and pop my head out of the tent.  It’s important to stay aware of a brawl’s location and direction.  At any time, a group of men may stumble and trample on my tent, and I’d rather not be inside it when that happens. By 2:30 to 2:45am, the parade ends – though sometimes with stragglers.

Things then quiet down enough to again attempt to get some sleep.  Hopefully I’ll fall asleep by 3am.  That will give me 2 hours of rest before having to get up and start the new day.  After 5:30am, a homeless person can be charged with “illegal lodging”, so everyone gets up by 5 am, so to have their belongings packed up, and to be on their way, by 5:30am.

Because there was so much commotion last night, I didn’t get any sleep.  Well, I did get about an hour’s worth, in McDonalds this morning, unintentionally, from 7 to 8 am.   Hopefully I’ll be tired enough tonight that I can sleep though most of the noise tonight.

As a side note, the week days are not usually as noisy, but can still have their moments.


About Kevin Barbieux

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


  1. I am in San Diego now.


  2. Where in Nashville is this?


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