Actual Sequence of Events

~I sit at Starbucks all morning waiting for someone to get my frantic e-mails.
~Dwight gets on gtalk around 1:00 p.m. and I fill him in.
~Dwight calls the gas station again for me to see if my phone has been turned in. No dice.
~Dwight comes to Starbucks to take me to Sprint to replace my phone.
~On a whim, we use his cell call my phone to see if the dirty bastard who stole it will answer.
~Aishwarya picks up on the other end of the line.
~General confusion ensues.

What happened was this: some nice guy (Richard) found my phone at the gas station restroom and was apparently answering all the incoming calls to see if I would call. Aishwarya didn’t hear from me in the morning like she was supposed to, started worrying, and called. Nice stranger Richard answered and explained what happened. He then proceeded to meet her at a local movie theatre and give her the phone.

Aishwarya still had no way to find me – she hadn’t checked her e-mail yet – so she went on to a barbeque with some friends, at which point Dwight and I called, and were very confused to hear her voice on the line.

So – yay!!! All worked out well.

Dwight took me to the Wal-Mart parking lot, at which point P. came out of his RV and mentioned that he had also called my cell, and the same Richard guy had picked up. He had left a note on my dashboard with the guy’s phone number.

I drove back to Starbucks, and Aishwarya met me there in a few hours after her barbeque was done, and gave me my phone and Richard’s phone number. So now I need to call and thank him so, so very much.

The other new development is that starting tomorrow I am going to board Fezzik. The Sam’s Club parking lot is not particularly safe at all (P. mentioned that he had sent another RV-er out there to drive by and see if I made it there OK, and they had seen the jillion random men hanging around my trailer, and were concerned). Wal-Mart is in a much safer neighborhood and the other members of my little RV community are around to watch out for me (I’m actually really touched that they cared enough to drive by Sam’s Club). Anyway, P. told me to come back to Wal-Mart after a day or so and just try to leave every couple of days for a few hours, and then come back and park elsewhere. However, now I’m paranoid about Fezzik attracting attention, so I am going to board him. Dwight has been super-kind enough to front me the money for one month of boarding, for which I am eternally grateful. This way, Fez doesn’t have to be confined all day while I’m at work, and he’ll get to play with other dogs and have people loving up on him, but he can still come home with me when this is all said and done.

Sigh. It will stretch things a bit, but Fezzik is worth it.

Also, I want to give a shoutout to Matt from Homeless Tales, who made the front page of Digg TWICE in two days!!!!! How awesome is that? I say, pretty awesome.

Also, thanks to Danny from Take Part – Jon (Beat on the Street) from Street Seen alerted me to your post on me. Thanks so much for the boost, and for thinking I have something to say. I saw that you guys are linked up with the movie “the Soloist”, and that’s so freaking cool. I just bought that book a few days ago, can’t wait to read it, and for the film.

Anyway – don’t worry everybody, I’m OK! :)

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!

* * * * *

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*

Quickie: L.A. Times Writer Andrew Malcolm Clearly Quite Uninformed

This article makes my blood boil. You may wonder why, since it seems pretty straightforward until you read the last 3 lines:

Michelle Obama serves food to D.C. poor and homeless, but…

What a jerk. I want to know, Mr. Malcolm – exactly what is so “bothersome” about a homeless man scraping up some resources for himself, resources which are clearly quite useful as a means to get himself back on his feet? A cell phone costs far less than an apartment. Or perhaps this is even a resource which he had prior to becoming homeless – did you ever consider the possibility that he is a casualty of the hot economic mess that Bush landed us in? What exactly is he supposed to do, sell off any and all useful possessions upon losing his home, so that he can fit into your definition of poverty?

Would you like him better if he was dirtier, hungrier, perhaps mumbling to himself or pushing a shopping cart down the street full of random odds and ends?

How dare he own a cell phone, the better with which to receive job offers, or to dial 9-1-1 should he be endangered?!

*shakes head*

Some of the reader comments on the story infuriate me just as much – one reader even stated that the phone must be stolen! Unbelievable.