On Being Homeless

This is a true story about being homeless.

It all began in 2008, when I got laid off from the job that I had since 1997. I was getting a lot overtime, sometimes starting as early as 4:00 in the morning, and sometimes working till almost 9:00 pm.
So I was making good money, then in the mid 2000s, the OT started to slowly dwindle. Then there were the weeks if I was lucky to get in full weeks worth of work. In January of 2008, I was let go. That was a big shock to the system.

Up next was collecting unemployment. That’s when things started getting iffy. I was slowly getting behind on the bills, then the notifying my landlord, that I was out of work, and he was understanding about it. He let me work off some of the rent, by doing some cleaning up of the property, and doing some painting.

Now comes August of the following year. My unemployment dried up, plus I got fed up looking for work, as few if any was hiring. So now, I’m caught in a Catch 22 situation. With no money, donated some of my furniture, and other stuff to a church, which was located across the street. Next it was to a motel, for a few days, that my sons paid for, then I realized that something had to be done.

I was referred to a homeless shelter, which was recommended by Elder Services. So I went to the shelter, with reservations, as I have always heard some bad shit about them. The shelter isn’t the greatest, but you do what you have to do. Your out into the street all day, and if the weather sucks, then your just plain miserable. I would spend a lot of time in the local library, and then head back to the shelter just before 5:00 pm. I did this for seven weeks, when finally one of the workers at the shelter, gave me the good news, that was giving me my own room, and away from the maddening crowd.

While I was upstairs, there were other people, I believe 14-15 of them. Some male and few females. I won’t get into what the goings were. Anyways, while I was there, I started looking for work again, and I went back to the unemployment office, and found out that they owed me over $3,000 in back unemployment payments. Now things were starting to look better. I opened a new bank account, and banked most of it. Hit the lottery a couple of times, which was around $300.00 or close to that. In January of 2010, finally got a part-time job. Then at the end of February I finally got an apartment, that I can call my own, and come and go as I please.

Today, I have since moved into a one-bedroom apartment, which I share with a partner that I met, when both became homeless at the same time. She is a wonderful person, and we get along great. It will be two years, this March 19 that we have been living together. We have gotten a new couch, cocktail table, two end tables comfortable recliner for her, and a wide screen TV.

Now that I am retired, my life has being very good, and now I can enjoy life.

The reason I wrote this, it has been something that I’ve been wanting to get off my chest, but couldn’t seem to get my head around it. What pushed me to write this now, was in a response to a comment on a post that I wrote: Liberal. The comment was about homeless people are either drug users, or have mental problems. Reading that, kind of pissed me off. Homelessness can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter what race you are, have lost a job, lost a home due to a fire, or for numerous other reasons.

So if you want to know what its like to be homeless, take a walk in my shoes, or anyone else who is homeless, and then get back to me and tell me what the feeling is like. It is not a good one at all.

A Pondering Mind 2014

54 thoughts on “On Being Homeless

  1. Bravo to you for writing this post. I hope it will help de-stereotype homeless people. I used to supervise students who some would do their “stage” training in homeless shelters. I would have to go there to observe them, It was heart breaking and heart wrenching to hear the stories.
    I’m so happy for you that you found a good companion (your silver lining) and that things are looking up for both of you.

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  2. A very moving story. You got yourself back together and you should feel proud. I am glad you found someone to share life with. There are many who share parts of your story. Now live in the present. Enjoy each moment and laugh lots! Hugs, Barbara

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  3. Absolutely well done Don! People who say things about the feckless etc etc, well, don’t you just get the feeling they are more than a little bit homeless on the inside . . .?

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  4. I want to say thank you for sharing your story, I know the feeling and the stigma that comes with it. I also know that it matters not as to who one is as far as where they live or stay or live and don’t have a place to stay. Awesome post and courage in sharing it, walking in your shoes or those of any other is a beautiful gift. Thank you for sharing such a gift! πŸ™‚ Joe

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  5. Anyone can become homeless. Anyone at all. Well said. I’m so glad you wrote this piece. I don’t think a lot of people understand how close they are to going through the same thing. Stereotypes and misconceptions are always a bad thing.

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  6. This is a beautiful and painful blog. It scares me to think how close all of us are to being homeless. Sure, the 1% is safe, but everyone else is on their own. When the government closed down and my husband is retired military and I’m retired federal, everyone kept saying, ‘don’t worry, you’ll be paid.’ We knew it wasn’t going to be that way. We’d both lived through a government shut down in the early 80s and we both went to work everyday and neither received pay. It was the worst feeling I’d ever faced. A recent study of the homeless veteran population has over 60% being 50+ and another 12% being 60+. That’s a sad statistic.

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    1. I do remember the Reagan years, the way he talked, and basically did nothing about AIDS, screwing around with unemployment payments, etc.. Hang in there Sheri. I wish you and Tom the best..

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  7. Thanks for sharing and have been in the same boat as well. Slept at the airport, waking up around 1 o clock at night when we knew the police did their patrols. Train stations and just on a bench. Somedays you were happy that no one took advantage of the situation but I found so many great friends in the homeless community. Clever smart people for whom it just had gone wrong. Am happy that this was only for one year and never ever want that part of my life happening again. But I do stop and talk to homeless people if I can now. Before it happened to me, not so much.

    Will do a post someday about this as well but am still embarrassed about this time of my life.

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      1. Oh yes. The worst part for me was the embarrassment, I have great friends but didn’t tell them that I lost my job and was sleeping rough although I know they would have taken me in straight away. Stupid mind of mine refused to let anyone know. But you grow and learn right… I hate my pride.

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  8. superbly articulated message, thank you. There is a very thin line between being homeless and basically the 99%. 1 or 2 major illnesses and a loss of job can rock a person’s world. It’s the Fox news mentality that does such a disservice to these realities. Glad things have turned around, hang tough.

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  9. a wonderful post on being real about life…
    I know the story personally as well…. I had two small children at the time
    I do not take moments for granted…and am grateful for the chance
    to be more today than I was yesterday even if it is giving someone a smile
    as that may be all I have to give…
    Thank you for sharing you ….it Matters
    Take Care…You Matter…
    )0(
    maryrose

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  10. I’m sorry that you experienced such a difficult time and proud of you for the efforts you made to get out of it. Such situations are exactly what social safety nets were designed for and I am very glad you were able to get the help you needed when you needed it. And equally pleased that you made every effort to get beyond that need. Please note that my original comment clearly stated that it was my own experience with homeless folks that I had actually encountered in person. My experience is also valid . And I stand with my opinion that most “mass” programs encourage dependency and make it hard to step up and away. I feel assistance should be at a local level, run by those who can get to know the people they’re working with and understand (and have authority to deal differently with) those who are trying to get past bad circumstances and those who are trying to get taken care of without making efforts to take care of themselves. I don’t believe this shows a lack of compassion. Are we being cruel when we say “don’t feed the bears”? Isn’t it true that the life of a wild bear who becomes dependent on easy food handouts from humans is less than what it could attain by being self reliant? Isn’t it true that those dependent bears lose their sense of themselves and become a danger to the very people who are feeding them? You were (and are) self reliant and thoughtful and took a hand up to get through a tough time. I hope some of my tax money went toward that help – but I don’t want to keep feeding those who refuse to work and sit under the bridge and drink all day. Thank you for sharing your story and for listening to my opinions – we’ve taken the first steps and reached a level of agreement (that there is definitely a need for social programs, that there are many people deserving of support in a crisis, and that we have many things that need fixing in the current programs). This is civil intercourse, and what needs to happen in more areas (like Washington DC). Who was it who said the most important thing for a democracy was to have a “civil and informed electorate”?

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    1. Thank you, Ethel for taking the time to read and comment. Also, I want to thank you for me to finally to write the post, which was overdue. I do agree with you about the ones who park their collective assess under a bridge, alley ways, etc… and do nothing to help themselves, and drink their lives away..

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  11. Dear friend. I salute you! Your story takes a lot of courage to post. Life is not consistent and we are here to learn about coping with the worst. Losing a job and dealing with the psychologies of such a loss is not easy at all..it takes years to get over..you are so brave and an idol and there is so much to learn from you and your story of courage and of never giving up.
    Lots of love and Blessings
    Nadine

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    1. Thank you, Nadine. I have to admit, it was hard for me to write the above post, but I made up mind to do it, I just typed away, took a break for a few minutes, and then resumed. No notes. Just straight from my head…

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  12. wonderful of you to share. We know that most of our homeless are there through no real fault of their own. A full quarter are veterans, others mentally ill, and others simply have suffered from an economy that was designed to favor the rich at the expense of the poor. You put a face to our shame…and we thank you.

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  13. Thank you for sharing your words…none of us ever know when we might be in the exact same situation. Nothing in life is guaranteed and anyone who passes judgement without “walking in another person’s shoes” is downright heartless…as well as idiotic. I appreciate your bravery with this post.

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    1. I thank you for reading and commenting. You make a good point concerning some of the idiots, who’d like nothing better to do, but put the homeless down, I have no use for those morons…

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  14. Wow, that’s a very powerful and brave message you sent, and you said it beautifully! I’m sorry you had to go through that, but I’m almost even sorrier you had to post it because of what someone said. I can’t stand when people judge what they know not. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

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  15. Thank you for sharing your experience. You have opened a important dialogue, one in which all must participate. I appreciate J. K. Rowling’s thoughts on poverty and homelessness, which she experienced. It can happen to anyone.

    “Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It meets a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts that is something on which to pride yourself but poverty itself is romanticized by fools.”

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