Road Trip and General Thoughts on Police

I spent my first official homeless morning watching the sun rise over the Colorado River.

It’s a beautiful day.

I know I’m not a hopeless case (Thank you, Bono).

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So, I am officially a gypsy, a nomad, a wanderer, whatever romantic crap I need to tell myself to get through this. Sometimes that’s the only way to deal with stuff. Homelessness is serious business, but if you don’t laugh about serious business, or find the romantic/fun/noble in it, then you will just break down and cry and feel dejected and hopeless, thus wasting valuable time that could otherwise be used working towards getting back into a house. Sarcasm and humor are my weapons.

So far, towing a trailer is not as difficult as I expected, which is excellent! I’ve only taken it about 6 miles, though. I’m stopped at the local Starbucks recharging my phone and posting on my laptop. It is going to take me considerably longer to get back to Orange County than it took to get to Blythe (which was about 2 hours, 45 minutes). I’m looking at a 4-5 hour return ride. My trusty mastiff Fezzik is with me, so at least I have company. Poor thing, I think he’s mildly confused about what’s going on. But he likes the car ride and being around me, so he’s pretty happy.

Trailer smells funky (like fat, greasy man and dead animals/fish – the dude apparently did a lot of hunting and fishing) and has a lot of junk in it that I’ll have to dump today so that I can fit my own boxes and Fezzik’s crate in there. I’m less bothered by the smell and the mess than by the idea that I’ll be sleeping on the bed that my pervert, drug-addict sperm donor used to jack off in, before he blew his brains out with a Remington 12-gauge. Ew. But, c’est la vie, have to roll with the punches, Oedipal/Electral undertones aside. First thing though, I’m stripping those bed linens and putting my own blankets on.

Was stopped by a police officer 5 miles outside of Blythe for speeding. Argh. Anyway, I know that I just spent the entire last blog telling all of the homeless women out there to come off as strong and independent and fearless, for protection. However, there are times when a general air of innocence and naïveté can serve you well. Learn when those times are. One of them is while dealing with police, which is likely to happen at some point.

Police officers can be assholes, I think most people will agree. But when it boils down to it, they are usually just doing their job, have a quota to fill, and all that jazz. They could possibly be more sympathetic, it’s true. But you will not earn their sympathy if you give them attitude. Know your rights, and assert them if necessary, but always remain calm and sound appreciative, even if you aren’t.

If you are pulled over by a police officer, the first thing that you should do is roll down your window and put your hands on the frame so that they can see them. The most dangerous moment for a police officer is first approaching a vehicle. They don’t know if you are armed, so this is always when they are the most nervous. Putting your hands clearly in view so that they can see you do not have a weapon is a very reassuring gesture, and more than once a police officer has let me off with a warning based upon that alone. Don’t cry, either. Officers HATE it when women cry. Not only does it make them feel a little bit like jerks, they also feel like you’re manipulating them.

Pick your battles. If you do get a ticket, don’t argue or get angry/defensive. This will not help you. Many officers have control issues, and enter the police force at least in part so that they get to exercise that aspect of their personality often. You can always go to court to try to argue the ticket (half the time, officers don’t even show up and the ticket is automatically dismissed). If an officer catches you sleeping in your car and asks you to move along, either go (you can always find another parking lot) or, if you are parking at Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club, politely say “Thank you for your concern, officer. Wal-Mart management has given me permission to park here overnight, as it is a private parking lot and that is their national policy. I would really appreciate it if you could check with them to verify that, before you ask me to move”. It is important that you keep a sincere and humble tone here. Don’t be snarky or triumphant. Always be sure to let them know that you realize they are doing their job and are grateful for the job they do to keep the community safe. It is OK to assert your rights, but if you’re a jerk about it, they may ask you to move on, anyway. If politeness doesn’t work and they ask you to leave anyway, just do it. It’s not worth it to piss off a cop and end up in jail, or having your car impounded.

Being articulate and well-groomed always helps. It’s sad, but officers are more likely to respond well to you if you don’t seem like the stereotypical vagrant. This is unfortunate, since the less articulate/educated, more despondent homeless are the ones who really need the kindness and understanding most. But, it is the way it is. Use your intelligence and coherence to your advantage.

Naïveté will also work wonders for you. People, especially men, generally want to do whatever they can for a helpless female (even more so if you’re cute!) It’s a chivalry thing. Don’t overdo it, just learn to be a little wide-eyed and lost, ask for help/advice because you’ve never done _______ before and you don’t quite understand the process. Sometimes you can use this to explain away a traffic violation or other mistake. Or, you can use it like I did today – getting park rangers to help me hitch up the trailer to my truck, and connect the turn signal wires (because I sure as hell didn’t know how). Learn when to be independent and when to use your natural feminine wiles a little (for good, not evil!!! Don’t be Machiavellian, and try to stick with innocence and sweetness and cuteness, NOT sex – which is another post in itself… maybe I’ll go into that tomorrow, but now I have to hit the road and get back to Orange County).