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I won't ramble too much. Most stories are the same. I just want to tell you what I notice now that I'm stable.
-- Here's me: At age 18 I was a drug mule and got busted on my first trip. My first time, but the amount (marijuana) was enormous and I got 4 years. First two years out, I had some bad luck with roommates; got robbed so much by my own roomies I had to move out but was then immediately hit by the back-rent no one paid. No one could be located except for -- guess who -- me.
-- I had the apartment's lawyers and the phone company chasing me for money. How'd you like to hire somone who has at least two garnishments you have to figure out for each paycheck? Also, would you like to lease an apartment to a guy who has an unpaid judgment from his last apartment? Don't forget the convicted felon part.
So, I was homeless for about 4 years until the manager of a car dealership took a chance on me and now I am the manager of our detailing department.
Okay, so what are the things that I really appreciate?
-- Light switches: In a shelter, lights come on, lights come off and you have no say. The ability to control your own lighting is a big deal.
-- Access to toilets: Ever hear someone mention how those 'disgusting' homeless guys pee outside? Where else should we? The search for a place to relieve yourself is a constant problem when you are on the streets.
-- Weather: I don't pay much attention to weather anymore. On the streets, weather is your life. A homeless guy rummaging for newspapers only wants one section, the weather report. If you can read, and you know the weather, you will have every dude you know asking what is coming.
-- Clean water: Are you impressed with the cleanliness of your average gas station restroom? How'd you like to drink from that sink?
-- Not losing things: Homeless shelters are life-savers in bad weather, but they are also a guarrantee that you will lose all your stuff. Either it's stolen while you sleep, or the shelter staff told you you have to leave it outside. Secret hiding places never are.
-- Night fear: You never stop being afraid of being outside at night. Think it's scary to have a breakdown at night? Someone gets mad, gets drunk or gets mean, you are going to be the first person they find.
-- Internet: I am now an internet addict. I got arrested in 1997 and I barely heard of the net back then. When I got my job in 2005, I got sent to a computer class right away. When I got my own place six months ago, I went all out and got my own computer plus an internet line. It is like magic. I cannot get enough of it.
-- Health Care Fear: Did you hear about that Bumfights video? It's BS! No homeless guys are going to fight. We never fight each other because everyone is afraid of getting hurt. You hear about guys who sprain their ankle and then die because they couldn't move for two weeks. Or, you hear about a guy who cuts his arm and his arm swells up the size of his leg. Little injuries kill. I was always terrified of getting hurt because of that.
-- The Looks: I admit, I got used to the looks from people in the real world. I kept a pretty clean appearance but people can always tell when you are in the 7-11 just to warm up or kill time. I never minded the looks. Didn't really care, not sure why.
-- Girls: I still have not solved the girlfriend riddle, but I love talking to ladies when they come pick up their car and see that we made it look like new. Seeing a woman's smile is nice. When a woman smiles AT you, its like nothing else in the world.
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