For the Homeless Experiment starting tomorrow I’ll be out for 5 days and 4 nights. Thursday till Monday (June 4th till June 8th).
In this time I’ll have to scrounge for food, search for places to sleep, perform the experiments I have set and document all this at the same time. I’m reluctant to set out a solid plan, but I’ll make a very general (and changeable) plan.
Leave the house sometime around 3pm. Walk to the nearest big intersection and hope I can somehow get food. Find somewhere on Riverside to sleep (possibly the woods or under a bridge). I won’t be able to make it al the way to Downtown by night time, so Riverside will be home. Not really sure where yet. For those of you that don’t know, I live in a part of Austin called Riverside. There is a newly gentrified area which I live in which is decently nice, then there is “the other part” which is relatively ghetto. On a drive through Riverside in the day or night you’ll generally see a few bums.
Start making the trek towards the downtown area. Try to score some food around Riverside and eat in the morning. Visit the homeless shelters and see if I can get a place to sleep at night. Since this is the start of the weekend I’m not fully sure how this will work.
When I think about it, I’ll probably be waking up early on Friday morning and have the whole day to spend doing……what? I really have no clue. I’ll probably try to befriend and then furtively “interview” some homeless people I find interesting. I frequently see homeless people around Downtown basically just chilling…probably because they have nothing else to do. Bordem might be a major issue since I won’t have much in the way as sources of entertainment.
Hopefully will have found a place to get a decent meal such as a soup kitchen or shelter. Try holding signs on the side of the road for a while to see how much money I can make with different signs. I’ll be around Downtown so the legality of this might be an issue. May spend some time at the public library documenting. At night I will most likely avoid all the partying areas of town and the homeless shelters. Downtown gets a little crazy at night, everyone is drunk, and I feel even homeless people hanging around the shelter will be doing the same with whatever they can get their hands on. Drugs, crazy people and party-goers just doesn’t sound like a combination I want to be involved in during such an exposed stage. I will most likely try to sleep on the outskirts of Downtown in a lower-key part of town to avoid all this.
I have a strong feeling by this time I’ll be pretty fed up with pretending being homeless.
I’ve seen Meals On Wheels trucks in several locations in downtown on Sundays, so hopefully I can catch some food at those. They also have a free concert under the bridge for homeless people on Sunday’s, and they generally serve some sort of meal. That should be a good place to go. It almost sounds crazy…a free concert for homeless people! Kevin was right, Austin is pretty homeless-friendly. I’ll also try to get a change of clothes from somewhere if possible. Will start making the trip back to Riverside. Will most likely sleep near the lake on a bench or under the freeway overpass near the threshold of Riverside and Downtown.
Wake up in morning and head back home. Take shower. Shave. Take another shower. Get a haircut. Take another shower. Get back to work.
Here’s a rough map of the general start path (red) and return path (green) I’ll follow:
This is of course a VERY rough estimation as the nature of this experiment has a vast number of variables. This short experiment will hopefully have some sort of long term positive impact on me. I’d say the MAIN reason I’m doing this is to get out of my safe/fun/comfortable bubble of a life for a short period. I love it, but every once in a while I feel a good kick in the ass is necessary to fully appreciate what you’ve got.
I’d like to state that this is really in no way a philanthropic expedition to raise awareness to the plight of homeless people. It’s pretty much all for selfish self-improvement reasons. If in the process someone, be it me or someone else, find some small way to improve or uplift the lives of those on the streets or any other station in life because of this experience, wonderful. I’m sure this experiment will reinforce all sorts of good wisdom principles I already know, but don’t fully pay attention to all the time.