Free Phone Service and Revenge

In connection with yesterday’s post, I would like to provide links to these two programs that offer free phone service for the impoverished and homeless:

SafeLink Wireless provides free cell phones and airtime to income-qualified individuals. Basically, if you make under about $14K/year, you qualify. It does say that you need a valid address to ship the phone to (no P.O. boxes accepted), but there’s an easy way around this. I offer up this tip lifted from Survival Guide to Homelessness: “Get a mailbox at a UPS store or similar establishment, and use that as your home address. Don’t get a post office box. PO Boxes are dead giveaways, but a commercial mailbox has a street address. The address will read 1234 Anystreet, PMB123. PMB stands for private mailbox. When you give your address substitute a pound sign (#), or Apt. Never write PMB. This will not affect delivery of mail”.

The other program is Community Voice Mail, which can be used by anyone and everyone who needs it (no income limits apply). It can be used from any touch-tone phone, including pay phones, for free. If you have an e-mail address, you can also be notified via e-mail when you have received a message.

Some kind of phone access is almost essential for those homeless and trying to find work. If you do not have or cannot afford a phone, make use of these tools!

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On the topic of revenge: It’s not always a completely savory concept, but sometimes it’s necessary.

First off, I should say that in my Wal-Mart parking lot, there are several other long-term homeless individuals living out of RVs, trailers, and cars. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to interact with any of these people, as they all keep to themselves. Everything is kept very quiet and clean; I rarely, if ever, see anyone come and go. There is no littering, no noise, no nothing. It is almost eerily quiet around there, as if there is an implicit, unspoken agreement that none of us will attract attention to ourselves, and therefore, ruin the setup for everyone else. We all know that it only takes one complaint from a shopper or city resident to the police, and we may be asked to move. The majority of us have long outstayed Wal-Mart’s “one or two nights” policy, and managed to blend – when it comes down to it, one trailer/car looks pretty much like another, right? However, it is a precarious situation at best, so everyone is incredibly clean and polite, so as not to give any cause for complaint.

There are these two little punks who seem to think that it’s funny to drive their truck to the edge of the parking lot every night, around midnight or 1:00 a.m., and keep the homeless awake by blasting music as loud as it will go – we’re not talking regular loud music here, we’re talking subwoofers, the whole bit, until you can feel the vibrations in your bones.

They usually stay for about 20-30 minutes, and then drive off, laughing. Of course, no one ever does or says anything. It’s not like you can open your window and shout “get out of here, you rotten kids! People are trying to sleep!” Everyone is conditioned to be absolutely quiet and still, ride it out, and let them pass. Don’t draw more attention to ourselves. It’s pretty jarring being woken up every night, but I suppose it’s one of those things you learn to deal with when you’re widely considered the scum-suckers on the bottom of the society tank.

Well, last night, I made a late-night run to the Circle K on the other side of the shopping center parking lot. And who do you suppose were there, filling up their gas tank? I made a big show out of sauntering over and writing down their license plates. They started getting belligerent, asking me what I was doing.

I told them I was the janitor for Wal-Mart (does Wal-Mart even have a janitor?!) and I wanted to know whom to file the noise complaint against with the police. I looked them in the eye, put on my steeliest dominatrix tone, and challenged them, “Go ahead, blast your music again. I dare you”. I don’t think they knew what to say. I walked away and went about my business at Circle K.

All was quiet last night. I don’t think they’ll bug us again. If they do, I have their license plate number. Rotten little punks.

Huzzah, I have struck a blow and claimed a (minor) victory in defense of my homeless brethren! *dances*

Comments

  1. genevieve baker says:

    Hi,I’ve been looking at your blog and find your perspective on homelessness really interesting. I’m a producer for a show on MTV called “True Life” which tells the real life stories of young people and the unusual subcultures they inhabit. The show we’re currently working on now is about the youth of America facing the challenges of homelessness at a young age.We want to understand through your own eyes and your own testimonies what led you to the streets and what it takes to survive 24 hours at a time.Any chance you would be interested in talking with us? You can email me at truelife@lintonmedia.comGenevieve

  2. Hi Genevieve,Thank you for reading! I have to say, I’m flattered and a bit taken aback at the interest :) I have e-mailed you privately regarding your offer.Thanks,~B~

  3. Ryan Garou says:

    Just found your blog. Nicely done re: the punks :) One thing about your mailbox strategy, however – most commercial boxes require a proof of residence (lease or utility bills) along with a photo ID in order to rent them. If you just became homeless after living in an apartment like five seconds ago, you can pull this off maybe, but for everyone else it is pretty challenging to get mail outside of General Delivery at USPS and whatever drop-in centers might be nearby.

  4. Hi, Ryan!You raise some great points – if it is not possible to get a post office box or similar at a UPS location; I would suggest either finding a friend/family member who is willing to let you use their address (not all homeless have people that they feel they can turn to, but many do).If this is not a possibility, then I would see about reaching out to local shelters and/or activists. I have been privileged to meet so many people in just the past couple of weeks, in every corner of the globe, who are willing to help a homeless person one-on-one. I would suggest finding a kindly-hearted volunteer or activist who is willing to let you use their address or that of the shelter. The only reason that these programs really need an address is to mail you the free phone. There is no bills to receive, since the services are free. I would imagine that you could find SOMEBODY willing to let you use their address to receive an item as necessary to reversal of your circumstances as a phone. I would even imagine that it is a common request at shelters and the like.Thanks for bringing that up! I love getting feedback from readers – how did you find tGGtH?~B~

  5. Anonymous says:

    Reading this one a few days late, YAY for possibly scaring the punks away!!!!!Jessica

  6. Thanks, Jessica! It was pretty fun :) ~B~

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