The Happy Hobo: Survival Tips for Life on the Streets


1)      Working to get off the streets. This has to be a constant in your life, or your future will be bleak. Get a P.O. Box and send in applications for low-cost housing and assistance. Can’t get a P.O. Box without a physical address? Oh, those bureaucrats do try to keep people down, don’t they? If you keep being persistent, you will get a mailing address. A few tips: Paying for the box over the internet at their USPS website (credit card required), or wandering in to an out of the way post office and being able to rent the box on the spot. Use your old address on your ID with a straight face. Not that I’m telling you to circumvent the law, but the rules should not inadvertently punish the innocent. If paying for a P.O. Box is out of your budgetary range. Get your mail delivered general delivery. Check your mail regularly, they will send things back after holding it for a week or so. Shelters and homeless agencies will also collect mail for you if it is sent to their address. I must advise you to be on good terms with the staff, one important piece of mail mishandled by a snarky shelter worker can undo months of work and effort.

2)      Protecting your valuables. These might not be what you think. Your cell phone and charger, medications, important documents, ID cards, bus passes, and warm clothes. These all can really put a dent in your economic recovery, if they are stolen. Keep a vigilant eye on your things, and be wary of the friendly person who keeps watching you and if their eyes seem always to be on your things and where they are placed. I have a little test that may not seem fair, but I think makes sense. Open up your purse or wallet in a group and notice whose eyes seem to be attracted to what’s inside. Those people should be kept at arms length. Note: I would sanitize the wallet or purse of any obvious valuables (credit/debit cards, any bling, electronics, etc.) before this test; you don’t want to encourage them.

3)      Should you keep a weapon? I can’t advise you on this, because I don’t know your situation. Some areas are really dangerous. But there are warnings that I must share if you do choose to keep a weapon handy: Is it legal? Registered, unregistered? Do you know how to use it? Is there any chance that a weapon could get you into some situation involving the law? Are you too hot tempered to keep it only for situations of clear self-defense? I have always followed the general principles of keeping away from trouble, confronting unavoidable trouble with a tough attitude (act like you have a gun), and being willing to call the police if necessary. This has worked for me 100% of the time.

On the next Happy Hobo: Clothes and getting past employment application headaches.

About tjmcfee

Freelance writer. Activist on homeless issues. 48 years old. I write about subjects that need to be examined closely and thoughtfully. The idea for Brain Sections came from reading a book about abandoned asylums. I wanted to set a suspense story in that setting. The inclusion of crazed scientists turning homeless people into zombies is what makes the story unique. View all posts by tjmcfee

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