For the Homeless Experiment, by tomorrow afternoon I will hit the streets of Austin, TX. pretending to be without shelter and without money for 5 days and 4 nights.
I’m trying to make this as congruent as possible to my alias story. This means I would have been evicted from my apartment with no car, no friends to stay with and not many belongings worth taking.
If this were a properly planned out hiking or camping trip I’d have a tent, proper hiking backpack, nice sleeping bag and all sorts of comforts…but that would effectively “plan the hardship out” of this experiment. It would also make it look like I’m hitchhiking rather than homeless.
- Backpack – Will be using the backpack I’ve had since middle school. It’s about time I’ve got a new one. I will say Jansport makes a damn good and sturdy backpack. It’s been around the world and on all sorts of adventures with me and is still ticking.
- A $5.00 sleeping bag I bought at Wal-Mart. It’s rated to only 45 degrees which means this is possibly the crappiest sleeping bag you can buy. However it weighs only 3 lbs. which is a plus. I somehow doubt it’s very waterproof, that might be an issue. I was wondering how it’s possible Wal-Mart sells a $5 sleeping bag for a profit, so last night I slept in it at my house on the floor and found out: It’s a big piece of crap. The zippers hardly function, and it took me 4 minutes of finagling to get it zipped up fully. I’m almost positive the next time I use it the thing won’t zip at all. My alias doesn’t have any money to buy a new one, so this will have to do.
- My Full Wardrobe will be: 1 old jeans, 1 old shorts, 1 short sleeve shirt, 1 long sleeve shirt, extra pair of socks. Hopefully I won’t run into any extreme weather.
- Two bottles of water. These will be old Coca-Cola bottles filled with water.
- No food. This will force me to immediately start scavenging for food somehow.
- No money.
- Mini Netbook – So I can document things.
- iPhone – Will be off except twice a day to let the family know I’m OK. Will also turn on to blog directly from the phone if internet is unavailable (as it certainly will be unavailable the first day or two).
- Camera – I want to document this trip with some pictures and perhaps video.
- Glasses and one spare pair of contacts.
- Small amount of toilet paper. Will probably end up jacking some from the public library at some point. Possibly from the same library I (we) donated a computer to.
- Toothbrush/toothpaste. That’s all I’m taking in the way of hygiene products. No deodorant + Texas heat + walking everywhere = Stinky Neville.
- Emergency Info Sheet and ID card – Insurance information and directions of which hospital I should be taken to in an emergency. If someone thinks I’m homeless they will take me to a public hospital. It’s best in case of emergency that it’s known I am to be taken to a private hospital for more immediate care. This is just a security precaution. I’ll keep this information in all my bags and on my person. This will also contain emergency contact numbers of friends and family. Doubt this will have to be used.
I feel this list is pretty relevant to what some in the alias situation would bring.
Word on the electronics:
Yea yea yea…I know a bum or homeless person wouldn’t have all the electronics (although you’d actually be surprised…)
…however I’m trying to document this trip, and I also have family/friends who are pretty concerned about this. Plus it’s my mom’s birthday one of the days I’ll be out and I want to call her. The electronics won’t be used for fun or entertainment…in fact carrying these things makes me a target for getting jumped and robbed, so I WILL NOT visibly use these around other homeless people for safety reasons. They also take up very valuable space in my backpack and add weight. I’d prefer not to carry any of these things, but documenting the trip as I go is important to me.
Writing about an experience in a comfortable coffee shop and writing while famished and under a bridge would probably be different things. For the times when I can’t access my netbook (for safety reasons, it gets stolen or because I’m out of battery) I’ll write in a small notebook then digitally transcribe later.
I took my last shower yesterday morning, and will be sleeping in the crappy Wal-Mart sleeping bag on my floor today. Tomorrow I hit the streets!