Dangerous, Friendless…Homeless
By
Deb CarverOwens

If overpasses could talk, how many stories could they tell? They stretch majestically across the lonely night streets. During the daylight hours they see the hustle and bustle of each day's activities. At night, what do they see? Do they see the little spiders building webs on their bracer sections? Do they happen to notice the field mice scurrying up into the cubby holes where the grass meets the cement? Do they pay attention to the people who congregate under it to live? The structure never sleeps. Little could anyone realize how deep a question to ask?

Is there a difference between homeless persons and street persons? Most of the populations of cities do not have time to wonder. They never think about the question because it does not pertain to them. These are details that are unimportant to anyone but those who live in this situation. Is there actually a difference? The answer is yes. In most cities there are different levels of living. The poor struggle through with little money and a lot of hard work. The vehicles are not the newest not are there a lot of choices for residence . Their families get by, but just barely. In the middle class, spouses have jobs, cars, and homes that are more or less of their own choosing. These people live in decent housing and for the most part pay their bills with a little left over for emergencies. Then, there is the upper class of people who can, basically, do what they want. However, most people do not know of the other two levels of society that are very real.

The first is the homeless. These are the ones who have lost whatever job they might have had and also their living arrangements. They live in shelters and look daily for some type of employment. When they find it, they strive to better themselves by getting into some type of living quarters that are not very expensive so that they can build and grow to better accommodations and lives. This author knows of a woman who procured employment at a restaurant within walking distance from the shelter on the midnight shift (graveyard shift). She worked for four nights sleeping during the day amid children playing and whatever else was going on in the shelter during that time and went to work each night. On the fifth night, she went to her shift and worked as usual. When she got off her shift that morning, she walked to the shelter and was told that she couldn't sleep that day because she would be off that night. She sat in the park with the valuables that she carried for safekeeping and was so tired that she cried to keep herself awake. Knowing that if she went to sleep, she would lose anything of value on her person, she could not think of anything else to do. Her weariness precluded walking to any of the sights around the area as she would have to carry her parcel with her.

Finally, the time came that she was able to go back inside. There were chores to do after dinner and then she went in with the single women who showered last to tepid or cold water to take her turn in the partition less showers with stalls that had no doors. The road to get one's life back is certainly not easy; and it is a sad truth that a lot of families are a paycheck away from such circumstances.

The second are the "street" people. They have one goal in their minds. That is to get enough money for their next quart or drug buy. They have no place to go and like it that way. There are no responsibilities except to survive another day and that is all the responsibility they want. Life has either beaten them down so far that they don't even try anymore or they have become lazy and have no more ambition than to sit and drink or do drugs.

The most important difference between them is that one group really does wish to pull themselves out of their situation while the other doesn't care about anything but themselves. The street people are not necessarily evil; however, most of them are opportunists. Someone may be sleeping on a park bench - between leaving the shelter in the morning and going back in at night - with his or her backpack next to them. If a street person thinks that the sleeper has any medication or money that they can take, they will use this opportunity to steal it.

By the same token, if a street person encounters someone that they think is pretty or appealing in some way even if they know this person and have been friends with them, they might grab that homeless person as the opportunity presents itself. Being drunk or high, they never consider the fear of the other person. In normal circumstances, the person would not think of such a thing, however the opportunity presented itself and it didn't matter whether they were behind a building or on the sidewalk of a busy street. The person being accosted might not get help in extracting themselves from such situations because the working people who are running errands or shopping don't want to get involved.

Let me be clear. Most of the time the "street", as a rule, don't go around attacking people as they walk down the sidewalk. Experience has taught that they steal from the homeless who are within their grasp. Given the right situation, however, it is imagined that the "street" will use whatever opportunity is open to them to get the money for their smokes, booze,or drugs.

It is also to be noted that the homeless have some kind of morality within them. They are just having extremely hard times. However, anything that the "street" wants to do is not thought of as moral or immoral, it is what they want. Therefore, a person walking down the street in the daylight hours could conceivably see a man or woman taking off parts of their clothing due to the fact that they have soiled themselves. Trust me; it is not for the faint of heart.

Is there a difference in the difficulty of survival between homeless men and homeless women? Most definitely there is. Women have a harder time than men usually. The women who find themselves in shelters have opportunities to get jobs for themselves and work their way out of the situation, however they have to be careful when they are out walking on the street. It is easier to fall into "the oldest profession" when there doesn't seem to be any hope, so hope must be kept within them. There are ways to do this.

1. They can make sure that in the course of the day, they never travel alone. Making a friend with other women at the shelter is a help.

2. It is hard for a woman to find a job when she has no address. A lot of employers won't hire anyone from a shelter address that they recognize in the area. The men have "morning call" in which construction companies and such come to the shelter to hire workers for the day. There are women who can handle such a circumstance, but some can't.

3. Inside the shelter, there is a locked closet where the women can keep their clothes and such. If they dress before they leave the shelter in clothes worthy of finding employment, they can put in applications as they walk through stores in the area while waiting to go back in the shelter at night.

Is there a correlation between any of these groups? It would seem that the middle three classes have the work and the worry and the hardships. Working, poor, and homeless strive to better their situations and make ends meet. It is interesting to note that the upper class and the "street" have not a lot of these worries. This excludes self-made successes. The upper classes can buy what they want or manipulate it from others while the "street" just take what they think they need from others. Either way the highest and lowest sides of the spectrum are the same in generality's ratio. Isn't that an interesting fact?