Every night for the past 140 nights, I made sure I was back at the shelter before bed check at 8pm. I also had to abide by a myriad rules and conform to many policy decisions for life in the shelter. Some of them made sense, many were plainly non-sense. As is usual for homeless shelters, the staff and employees were not the highest quality people, although I must admit that they were most sincere about wanting to help the homeless. but as has been mentioned before, sincerity is no substitute for intelligence.)
For example: It has always been a rule at the tent shelter that after 10pm was quiet time. Even if you did not feel like sleeping, it was required of people to remain quiet for those who were sleeping. And, that was all fine and good. Mostly, it meant that the tv had to be turned off at 10pm, regardless of what was being watched. But shortly into the season, someone made a complaint, thinking it unfair that the tv had to be turned off, but people with laptops (about a 1/2 dozen) were allowed to use their computers after 10pm. Some people were using their laptops to watch movies, (and yes everyone on laptops were using headphones and so were not breaking the no-noise rule.) The complaint was that people with laptops were able to watch movies when others who did not own laptops could not. So, staff made the decision that no one could use their laptops after 10pm. Though weak, I could sort of see a justification for this rule. Yet people who were playing cards or dominoes or other games were still allowed to play their games at any time without restriction, so long as they “kept it down”.
This kind of inconsistency was common, and was found in most decisions made about shelter life. Most everyone just rolled with it, and thought it better abide by such silliness than to risk being kicked out of the shelter.
DNR or Do Not Return, was the threat over everyone’s head in the shelter. It meant being summarily kicked out for the rest of the season. Grievances against staff were rarely filed as it seemed like a futile gesture. People who were being disrespected were expected to just bite their tongue and not rant about it. Regardless of how justified a person’s rant might have been, ranting was just not allowed and could cause a person to be DNRed, even if they spoke the truth. In a place where you are required to be respectful of everyone, being then disrespected by staff or others is often difficult to remain silent about. In the four months that the tent shelter was open, I saw about 1/2 a dozen men DNRed for losing their cool after being mistreated.
Anyway, it feels good to no longer have a curfew and to now have the freedom to stay up all night working on my laptop if I so wish.
Oh, and another thing. The front doors to the tent were always left wide open, and the heaters were rarely used. And even when the heaters were turned on, they were turned on so low that they really didn’t help to generate any significant heat in the place. So, even though the days may have been warm from time to time, every night it tent felt like a meat locker. And this was the main contributing factor to my relentless illnesses. It’s hard for a person to shake off cold when living in an unheated winter shelter tent. Now that I am in a hotel (cheap though it be) I am in control of the room temperature, and I’m feeling better already.
Ah, and of course there is the renewed privacy. I am in a room all to myself. for the past 140 days I lived in a one room facility with 150 other people. It’s gonna take some time getting used to the quiet again. And I can now scratch myself wherever and whenever I want. True Luxury!