Another installment in my adventures in being homeless.
How does this happen to a person?
Well, it was a collaboration of poor planning, bad luck, and chasing a dream.
In December of last year, an Ophthalmologist confirmed something which I’ve known for 20 years, that my vision was going to eventually change from two eyes to one with the onset of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a broad definition for when the eye has increasing pressure and presses against the ocular nerve, which damages the persons vision. It’s slow and permanent. I have what’s known as “angle-closure” type, and the surgery would require me to ‘not work’ for about 6 weeks, and besides being an elective type of surgery, it’s not covered by most of my previous companies insurance until it becomes ‘too bad to work’.
The options I’ve considered upon finding out that my vision was failing weren’t simple. Pay about $25,000 for surgery, with up to two months down-time, mostly out of pocket, which I simply couldn’t afford. I could move to a state where Marijuana is legal, and reduce the swelling of my right eye by smoking the ‘red-eye’ varieties of CBD, “pain killing”, Sativa Indica variety, and that would increase blood flow and circulation to my blocked tubules.
Of course, this means that I couldn’t work at normal jobs, anymore without some serious paperwork from doctors, and no matter what, I couldn’t drive a commercial vehicle any more because of our Nations Department of Transportation rules. This means a severe change in careers, the 5th serious shift in my short 20 years of working for gainful employment.
I had a seriously difficult decision to make.
I decided to put up my home for sale, pack up my belongings, and move 2,000 miles from the midwest to Washington state, and try smoking weed, again, to see if there were any immediate effects. My fears were validated within arriving in July. I toked my first toke of weed in a decade, homeless in my pickup, and within a day, the rainbow halo in my vision began to disappear. The black-and-white vision began to give way to colors again, and my constant throbbing headache completely went away. For the first time in nearly 5 years, I slept more than 3 hours.
I was simply thrilled that I found a solution, and it was simple as smoking a weed that grows in the wild… A WEED… A nuisance plant! A plant which the government spends BILLIONS in our current legal system to deter, prevent, prosecute, incarcerate, and further enslave our population with probation officers, counselors, enforcement agencies, and task forces.
I smoked this drug for one month, and not once did the thought occur to me to rape, steal from, shoot, or murder anyone. It gave me relief from a headache and helped me see, besides helping me slow my consumption of tobacco, and helping me eat more foods, as I’ve always been bordering on being underweight.
Then I started applying for jobs… “Drug Testing” was always common among every job I applied for… Every single job which paid $10 per hour, meant I would also have to submit to drug testing, and wouldn’t allow me to smoke it, even with a doctors order. I was heartbroken.
I stopped smoking pot, and went another month looking for jobs until I resorted to my previous profession of driving semi over the road… Again, I was met by companies who preferred to treat me like a number, as disposable and mechanical as a cog in a machine. If I squeeked in the slightest, I’d be tossed aside to starve until I seen it THEIR way.
What frustration… So, I began to look for local jobs in the Seattle area, driving semi. I found one which didn’t work me very hard, and would allow me to retrain for a better paying career. The trade off was simple.
Live in a vehicle (which I haven’t bought yet), work 50 hours per week, (so I could make the overtime and minimize the time spent outdoors), and save my paychecks to be able to purchase some land.
So far, I’ve spent 3 weeks in 40-60 degree weather. It get’s cold at night. I wear 3 hooded sweatshirts, 3 pairs of pants, besides my “midwestern snow gear”, which consist of snomobiling pants, jacket, ski-mask and buckskin gloves. I sleep in industrial parks inside of empty (and damaged) semi trailers, as well as keeping my items in there during the day while I scavenge for foods and work.
I can usually get away with ‘grazing’ at local shopping centers like WalMart, where I don’t actually buy anything. I’ll walk through the fruits and veggies section, eating a few grapes, then an apple, drive a few carrots and celery stalks into my face before getting to the milk section, and down a pint sized carton in a few gulps. When I get to the chips and crackers, the milk carton goes into the back behind the single-sized bag which I choose. It takes a few moments for me to eat them as quickly, especially if I’m already half full from the previous sections, but I eat so quickly that I normally have to count my fingers after I’m done, just to make sure they are still there. Then I walk to the bathroom and take a ‘bird bath’, which, for the uneducated, means taking a handful of paper towels from the dispenser, wetting them and using hand soap, and vigorously scrubbing each part of the body, usually the major smelly parts like assholes, armpits, crotch and teeth, never in that order. I follow it up with wetting what little hair I have, and using hand soap, scrubbing my scalp raw, and finishing with the hand-dryer to return to my normal clean state.
At least the corporate giant is good for something, right?
Most of my free time is spent in this way. Walking to the giant, immersed in crowds of unaware people, then returning to my ‘walking sleeping bag’, to sleep two sets of three hours. Get up, go to work, do it all over again.
Shit… Is this the cost of pursuing a dream of a stable life? I don’t want to be rich, famous or good looking. I just want to farm food for myself and stay the hell away from everyone else. That seems entirely too much to ask, as I am expected to support my community with taxes, votes, and interaction. We’re no longer nomads. We’re collectively unhappy, no matter the technical advances we’ve made with medicine, finance, science, and social development. We crave to go faster on long flat paved surfaces. We crave independence, security, and instant gratification. We want it all, now.