One of the most dangerous things about being part of the working homeless community is that you learn how to adapt to an unhealthy situation. It’s not comfortable, or safe, but you find ways to carry on with your life. Like most people, I grew up hearing the old saying, “misery loves company.” I always thought it was meant to be negative, that miserable people liked to make other people’s lives miserable like theirs. But being a part of the homeless community was a lifesaver for me. Yeah, it was miserable at times, but I was grateful to be taught how to survive on the streets by people in the same situation I was in.
By the time I had to return to the streets after the holidays, I pretty much had my coping routine down.
God blessed me with more work, thanks to one of my dear friends who owns a restaurant I was eating not only regularly, but healthily as well, and my storage facility furnished an office space for the tenants.
I worked several different jobs, and none of my co-workers knew I was homeless. Every now and then one of my friends would call me and ask me to stay at their home. Or I’d splurge and get me a room at Motel 6 and stay in the shower for 30 minutes. I was surviving because I was part of a community who gave me the ins and outs of survival situations while I also worked to get my life together.
A lot of people I met on the streets were comfortable in their situation because there was no judgment, no criticism, or put-downs. I dare say some even found more camaraderie among the broken than with their families or friends.
Night after night I’d join my little homeless community with my laptop at a 24-hour restaurant and either work through the night, or look at programs or movies on my laptop. At some point I was comfortable enough to leave my laptop in the booth while I went to the restroom, knowing my computer would be safe. We were all ages and races. Some were studying while others chatted. Another thing we had in common was hope.
You’d be surprised to know how many of the working homeless attend community college, or have hobbies that they’ve turned into small businesses. For this reason, a number of them opt to stay on the streets until they can accomplish a certain goal. They are in a peaceful, supportive environment, with the freedom to carve out a clear plan that doesn’t include any naysayers.
The lifestyle can suck you in, and that’s where the danger comes in–you get comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I realized that for myself when I returned to the streets from house-sitting for a few weeks and fell back into my homeless routine, and was fine with it.
My goals hadn’t died; I was just too busy keeping up with myself on the street, and making sure I never let myself get depressed. I knew God was watching over me, and I was ready to get off the street, but how? I wasn’t making enough money to rent my own place, and how could I possibly ask someone, “Hey, could I live with you for no rent while I get myself together?”
One of my street friends decided it was time for her to get off the street; she sought me out and told me I should do the same. My friend’s classmate was trying to save her home and asked if she would consider moving in and sharing half the cost. My friend thought it was very affordable and jumped at the opportunity. I just remember how happy she was, not only finding a lovely place to live, but at the same time being a blessing to the person that was blessing her.
Little did I know that my blessing was just around the corner. In my next report I will address the “milk of human kindness,” and being a blessing to others. It’s simply amazing how a kind word or action from a total stranger can impact your life.