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How to Be the Perfect Hobo

Updated on May 22, 2020

A Stereotypical Hobo


After the Crash of 1929, men were desperate. Times were desperate. Life, for these men had been prior to the “Great Depression,” as the Crash of ‘29 was named, been somewhat prosperous, but was now heartlessly-defined as “survival.”

Everywhere you looked in cities big and small, you couldn’t miss the bread lines where men unable to find work, swallowed what pride they had left, for a crust of bread and maybe, if they were lucky, a cup of hot soup.

Then something straight out of the Hollywood films surfaced. A new way of doing things. A way of life that had a few Flecks of glitter on its fringe. Men with severe cases of “rambling fever,” began hitching illegal rides on freight trains to get them to the next town where they might find a job. If their luck held out. No one was ever called “lucky” in this time in our country’s history.

Vagabonds with no roots, were what some “pillars of the community,” called these sorrowful men with dirty faces and crusted hands. Oh, I guess that these “pillars of the community,” were a notch higher on the “ladder of life,” because they had not lost all of their money in the Stock Market Crash. Big deal.

After a while, the daring vagabonds were lovingly-renamed as hobo’s. A short name. Easy to remember. And it sounded just a bit more shameful being said from the lips of these same “pillars of the community.”

Many hobo’s were killed by a team of thugs called “railroad bulls,” that the railroads hired to rid their trains of such leecherous vermin. America wants its trains to be clean. Not a safe haven for a desperate-hearted man who will do most anything to feed his babies back home.

And many hobo’s “made it.” Somehow by the grace of God, these fortunate “bo’s,” found work in start-up factories, slaughter houses and most anything that was offered to them for a wage.

For these who made it, I am very happy. Even though very belated. For those who lost their lives, I am very sad, but I will always see you in a certain light of honor for you tried your best to do what was right.

This piece is getting way too serious and heavy on my mind. So I now will shift gears, if you will, and get to the “meat” of my story which is entitled, “How to Be The Perfect Hobo.”

This is story chocked-full of sound advice for would-be hobo’s in 2012. Yes, my good-hearted men and women of America, there is some whispered-rumblings of hobo’s making a comeback if the world economy should “take a dive.”

But I’m not worried. According to the Obama administration, (and this is not a dig), our economy will make a resurgence in two or three years and we all can enjoy life again instead of occupying our time checking our bank balances to see if we have enough to have a burger and fries for our “family night out.”

But back to being a “perfect hobo,” that’s where “I” come in.

I am going to do my best to teach all of those would-be hobo’s in 2012, the sensible, working, and feasible ways to “be the best” they can be as they hit our highways and by-ways.
Oh, and the “be the best,” I admit it. I “hobo’d” that from the United States Army.

I am going to offer you 13 tips that if applied, will gain you a completely-new life as a hobo, a traveling man, and a legend talked about in your former church, neighborhood and country club. These tips are that good.

Ready? Get your pencils out. And get ready to experience a true metamorphosis from average citizen, to a legendary hobo.

If you are going to be “The Perfect Hobo,” you can’t

1.) Afford to wear decent clothes when you hit the sidewalks asking the working people for change. A working person will come more apt to giving a man with thread bare pants a buck, more than he would a man wearing Levi’s, an ironed flannel shirt and shined-up loafers.

2.) Smile. At all. Good-hearted people have something called compassion. And a sad-looking hobo plays on their tender heart, so learn to look as sad as Mitt Romney on Election Night.

3.) Look up, but down. A defeated man will always look down while a successful man always looks straight-ahead. When the people you are “working,” see you looking down, “hey, honey, there’s a poor hobo. Let’s give him five-dollars for a meal,” an humble lady will whisper to her husband who owns a deli. “why?” he asks. “Shhh, don’t talk loud,” she replies. “because he’s looking down. That’s a sure-sign that he’s a hobo down on his luck.”

4.) Have anything in your pants pocket, change, cash, credit cards, nothing that would lead giving-people to believe that you have means to survive. Empty everything from your pockets before you start being a hobo.

5.) Say much. Hobo’s are frayed, fragile, and shattered. So act the part. Do not start a useless conversation. Just nod “yes,”and shake your head “no,” when asked questions. But when you are given a dollar, look even more sad and whisper, “thankssss.” The good-hearted person may up the ante and give you three dollars.

To be the “Perfect Hobo,” you “must” do these things

6.) Talk to yourself. This is a sign that you are “on the edge,” and in-need of money and a hot meal.

7.) Ask, “mister, do you have a job for me?” knowing the man’s answer will be “no.” But out of pity, look for him to hand you an Arby’s coupon and two bucks. Simply because he respected your effort to find work.

8.) Wave and smile at children who are with their mom’s. The child who is more-sympathetic, will tug at his mom’s dress and say, “mommie, that poor man needs help.” That’s it. Your “ticket is punched.” Mom’s listen to their small children.

9.) Wear your face as dirty as possible. This also plays on a giving-person’s heart, but do not be disappointed if the giving-person hands you their hand disinfectant.

10.) Sit outside most restaurants, on public benches, and look sadly into the passerby’s eyes and hold your dirty hand out. This says to these passerby’s that you are at “the bottom of the barrel,” and most of these citizens will give you some change. Maybe a smile.

To be a perfect Hobo, you must avoid:

11.) Impatient beat cops who are known for saying, “move it along, mac.”

12.) Stray dogs who haven’t ate in weeks. They might attack you for that uneaten hotdog you have in your suit pocket.

13.) Bullies who prey on hobo’s, and actually steal what change they have.

There you go, future hobo’s. I don’t think that I can do much more for you. Except, I almost forgot . . .
(this is a bonus tip) find yourself a stick and put a few of your clothes inside a pillow case, and put it over your shoulder, this is the universal sign that says . . .
“hello, I am ‘the’ perfect hobo. Glad to meet you.”

Oh, if the person calls the cops on you, you are on your own.

Just do what legendary songwriter/hobo, Woody Guthrie would do: run for your life.

Modern-Day Hobo


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