Have you ever thought about what life as a homeless person would be like? Maybe a strange thought, but it does go through my head. In fact, I actually think of it when I am in public places that I enjoy. Like yesterday, I went to the library. It was so peaceful there. I grazed through the New Book Section – yes, I do mean “graze. I love books so much, I could eat them. Then made my way to the computer terminal to check the availability of a book I’d just remembered wanting to read. While doing so, I glanced over the top of the monitor, and my eyes stopped on the backs of the heads of the numerous people using the public internet/computers available there. All lined up in a row facing the wall, I considered each one. One man was typing frantically, and I thought that if I were the person sitting next to him, it might annoy me. It wasn’t like the kind of typing that is a nice steady rhythm of tap – tap – tap. You could feel his energy was frantic and desperate. Maybe he was in a hurry, or more likely, it was a letter of complaint. Whatever, it made me glad that I didn’t have to go there to use a computer or the Internet.
I made my way over to the DVDs. I figured if I could check a few out for the upcoming week, it would save us a few dollars in movie rentals from the local video rental store. I browsed through the cases lined up in alphabetical order. My legs cramped a little as I squatted down to see the ones on the bottom shelves. As I was squatting and standing, squatting and standing (yes, they have a large selection), I noticed the people coming and going. I listened to the man behind the shelf in back of me, his voice a booming whisper, and thought that if I were another person, maybe my grandmother, I would tell him to be quiet, it’s a library. Or maybe I’d give him the “Sshhhhhh!” But I didn’t.
To my left I noticed a woman dressed nicely – like she was some sort of professional. She was looking through the Audio Books. I considered that option, but realized it would only work for me if I had more than a three to five minute drive to work. I would rather read a book than listen to it, if my eyes are available, so I was thinking maybe this woman drives great distances for her job and those books give her something to think about during that time. I remember that my mother used to listen to books on tape (it’s been a few years – no CDs yet) when she used to drive an hour to see my grandmother in the nursing home. And my little brother used to listen to them on his commute to college.
I put that thought on my “things to consider” shelf in the back of my head. Someday I may have the opportunity to have a job that I might need to drive great boring distances, and this could be my saving grace.
Beyond the “professional” woman was a group of comfy looking chairs. None were filled, and I considered taking my book selections – a novel, a how-to, a book on beach houses, and sit in one of those chairs to see if I really wanted to check these books out. I could take some time to read the first chapter of the novel – see if his writing style suited me. But then I remembered that I had a lot of grocery shopping to do.
And that’s when the homeless person thought came into my mind. That’s when I thought, If I were a homeless person, I would hang out here all day. There’s comfy furniture, the Internet, bathrooms and books and books and books! And all free to the public. Sounds like a line from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” – the kidnapper with his jail cart disguised as a candy wagon bribes the children with candy, promising, “All free today!” But there’s no candy, and when they fall for his promises, the pretty sides of the cart fall off and reveal the bars to the cage holding them. He never even gave them a sucker.
I realized at this point, arms piled high with books and movies, that I do that a lot. When I am in public places, I think of the benefits that place would be to a homeless person.
I work in a public building. And the only bathroom we have to use at work is the public bathroom. There have been numerous times that I have gone down to that dungeon-like place (its in the basement) to use the facilities and wondered if I would find a homeless woman standing at the sink cleaning herself up a bit. I guess I was scarred by the story a woman once told me, many years ago, of her visit to Washington D.C. She went into the airport restroom, and there was a prostitute scrubbing her you-know-whatsy at the public sink! Ugh. I’ve never felt the same about a public restroom.
The truth is that it kind of bugs me that I think of the possibility of homelessness. Is it a fear? I mean, the economy has been pretty rough lately. And with my husband being self-employed, it can be a bit scary at times. Right now it seems like no one is safe anyway – self-employed or otherwise. But really! Homelessness? I think I’ve got a far stretch before I end up there.
Then there’s the possibility that somewhere in my crazy mind, I find homelessness appealing! Okay, yes, I know I have not seen the ugly side of it first hand, and consciously, I realize it would be dreadful. But the perks that I think appeal to me are the lack of responsibility. The free time! I mean, you’d have no bills to pay, and you could sit at the library and read all day! Although you might get hungry. And anyone who knows me knows I hate to be hungry. Nope, not appealing at all.
Maybe my thoughts are just trying to fulfill one of those desperate needs; the need to consider the “What Ifs” that come to mind and fool myself into feeling prepared. Some people take survival courses or read survival books, so if their plane ever goes down and they are stuck on a desert island, they’ll know how to survive. I mean, isn’t one of the best movies made, “Castaway”? And doesn’t everyone love to watch Bear in “Man Vs. Wild,” as he drinks his own urine and sleeps inside dead animals?
I guess there’s a part in all of us that thinks of extremes. Not just in fear, but in a way to bring excitement to our lives. That’s probably why people skydive or go on roller coaster rides. I don’t do either of those. I’m not a thrill seeker. Maybe it’s just a need for adventure. Maybe it goes back to when I was a kid and read “The Boxcar Children.” I didn’t really want to lose my parents or live in a train, but it was fun to think about in that same way; no one to tell you what to do or where to be. And I get a kick out of thinking of ways to dig into my resourcefulness. Yeah, I think that is probably it.
No, I don’t want to be homeless, but hands down, if I were, I’d spend a lot of time at the library.