More on The Homeless--True People, True Stories
A Day of Clean Up
No Wonder They Can't
I have had it pointed out to me several times that the people I have written about, maybe do not represent the majority of those homeless people out there, and that alcoholism and drugs and these kinds of things are more the reason that they are homeless.
I will go so far as to say that I haven't represented some of these people in my hubs, so far, but so that we do get a more fair representation of the problems, I am going to tell you about some people that I know, that are the worst of the worst, and why they are homeless and remain that way.
Before anyone gets a broken leg jumping to conclusions, (ha-ha) let me tell you that the place in this county where all the homeless camp, is in a river bottom, that for most of the year is dry, and that to help me with my writing, and for the sake of being informed about what I am talking about, my oldest son who went to school with a lot of these people, and knows many more besides, took me there on several occasions, to show me the camps, to introduce me to folks, and to allow me to have a better idea of what it really going on. It was enlightening, to say the least, and was one of best things I have ever done as far as research goes.
Here are some more of my experiences, and what I learned on this subject. I am going to begin this story, by telling you how I began my trip down there. My son, who is 33 yrs. old, said to me, "I am going to take you into two camps, one of them is a tweaker camp," meaning that everyone in the camp shot up speed, "and the other is the heroin camp. and you tell me what you think."
I agreed, but wondered what he meant. Considering that those who inject speed, are well known for their projects, for collecting things, and building things, I expected to find a camp that was well stocked with the things they needed, although possibly the people in it needing sleep. The other camp, I expected to find probably less of the necessities, and to find people nodding off, and things like that. Boy, I have to say that I was guilty of the worst case of stereotyping I have ever blamed other of. What I found was shocking.
When we got into the speed freak camp, there were was no organization what so ever. The campfire was under trees, and the tents were put up in the biggest piles of dirt and dust around there. Picking a good site was not apparent. There were boxes of things everywhere, and there was no way to tell who belonged to what, for it was so disorganized I was simply shocked. I stayed and talked to a couple of people who had the time, and one of the older men told me to watch my pack, for it would quite possibly get stolen if I was not careful. It was right next to me, so I wasn't worried, but, by the time we were ready to leave, I turned to find that it was missing. I looked over, and to my surprise saw it sitting inside a tent near me. That is my pack, I told them, and the girl who's tent it was said no, that is mine. I went over and picked it up and opened it and sure enough it was mine. Oh, I used to have one like that and I thought that was it.
In that camp, after spending a short amount of time there, I saw a pattern, and that was so much stealing took place, that nobody knew who belonged to what. For example, there was a watch, and I saw three people declare on a bible that it belonged to them. The man I was speaking with told me this--"I know about that watch, and I know where it came from. It belonged to someone who lived in an apartment over by the library. When she let that girl with the blond hair visit, she came back with it. Then, that other girl over there stole it from her, and it just kept getting stolen from one to the next, until everyone thought they were the rightful owner, and nobody could remember where it came from to begin with". What a mess, I thought to myself, but I could see by the fight that was happening right in front of me, that it was completely true.
As the Rumours Go
In the short time that I spent watching the people in that first camp, I became aware of the sleep deprivation which was causing the lack of everything a brain should be able to do. There would not be any way for any of these people to be able to work, take care of a real home, or be responsible in any way for themselves or anyone else. It was horrible.
We left, and about ten minutes later arrived at the other camp. It was set up in a place that was under a canape of the tallest bamboo I had ever seen, and they had tied ropes to the tops of it and pulled it together into an igloo type effect, leaving a hole in the center and that is where they put their campfire at night. The whole camp was carpeted, and the tents were set up in a way that everyone had a bit of privacy. They had couches set up in front of the campfire, and as soon as I walked into the camp I was greeted by someone who told me I needed to talk with the man they had voted to be in charge of the camp, who was older and he did seem to have a sense of order there. He came out and we were introduced, and he gave me a chair and we began to talk.
He was very interested in my research, and answered very honestly each and every one of my questions, and even filled in the blanks where I had not asked things. How this camp was run was that there were people who worked, and for them, everything in camp was done for them. When they came back with money, it was up to the man in charge, he who I was speaking with, to split it up, making sure everyone would eat, and then he went and bought the drugs needed by everyone. He kept all of it, and whenever someone needed some they only had to ask, and he would break them off an piece. His rules were, as long as everyone helped out in whatever way they could, he would provide the drugs accordingly.
This was by far the cleanest camp I had ever seen. The people were actually walking around in their white socks. In one area the meals were being prepared, some of the others were piling wood, and another person was feeding all the animals. He offered me some of his drugs, which at that time I dabbled, and I did a tiny bit with him. I was surprised by this too, for not every strung out person offers their drugs like that. He said that anyone caught stealing would be made to leave the camp, banned from the kingdom I think he phrased it.
I asked him what was stopping them from renting a place and sharing, or choosing something other than being homeless, and were they homeless in his opinion because of the drug use. He said that they were here because they chose to be, not because they had to be. He said that the river bottom afforded them an extra pound of safety as far as staying free and not getting caught by the police for being under the influence, and that they found this life to be very peaceful. I have to admit, I was there visiting for about four hours and it was indeed and very quiet and pleasant afternoon, especially when comparing it to the previous camp.
I don't know what any of this proved as far as being homeless, or being forced by lack of funds, work, or anything else to be homeless for this did not seem to be the case. They wanted to be where they were, and did appear to be happy. I would guess that the camp was composed of about 20 or 30 people, and that they had the presence of mind and spirit to set up a civil government so to speak of their own, putting someone in charge, and appointing others in various places of responsibility, running their small town with its own set of rules. It was interesting. The previous camp had no rules, no leaders, and was completely lacking in responsibilities making it pure chaotic.
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