For the upcoming Homeless Experiment I can’t go living on the streets and telling everyone I meet, “I’m not actually homeless, I’m just trying it out.”
That makes me a bit of a target and probably won’t inspire trust.
So I’ve made up a story for myself. It will be easier to stick “closer” to the truth since it’s much harder to lie. I’ll be using places where I actually grew up instead of other places in the off chance someone may know the area.
So if I somehow get involved in a long conversation about this, here are the story details I will give:
My name is Nev. (I’ll go by my full name if asked, but “Nev” seems nice, short and easy to pronounce).
I grew up in Houston but in recent years my family moved to upstate New York…I might also say they’re divorced just for added drama (but they’re not in real life). I moved to Austin recently and was working at Radio Shack selling phones. I recently lost my job and couldn’t pay rent for the last few months so I was evicted from my apartment.
I don’t have many friends here, and the only ones I know are in school, but they’re gone for the summer. I have a friend who I’m going to live with, but he moves into his new apartment in about two weeks, so for now I am living on the streets till he gets back into town and gets his apartment. From there I will stay with him and find another job.
I went to HCC (Houston Community College) for a few semesters but didn’t go all the way through.
I had a car in Austin, but I got in a wreck a few months ago and it was totaled. I didn’t have insurance and can’t afford a new one. I’ve been walking and taking the bus everywhere for a while now.
SO that’s what I’ll be telling people if they ask. I made up this story because it’s how I believe MOST people end up homeless….through a simple sequence of unfortunate events. For the most part homeless people are NOT the dilapidated looking bums you see on the side of the road holding signs. Those people are in the minority, however they are the most visible, which is why people think all homeless people are like that (I learned this pretty clearly when I would do work for homeless shelters…even homeless people don’t like THOSE homeless people).
Most of this stuff relates to some experience I’ve had or someone I know. For example I had a temporary roommate who worked at Radio Shack selling phones, so if someone proceeds on that line of questioning I can deliver believable answers.
This will also be the pretense for the whole Homeless Experiment. That I’m just a 20-something guy down on his luck for a little while and has no place to go for a few weeks. I feel this story will allow me to freely ask questions about homeless life, instead of telling people I’ve been homeless a long time and asking dumb questions about it. It won’t sound congruent if I told that story.
I’ll probably also try to “dumb down” my speech a bit just for effect depending on the person or situation I am speaking with. I’ll play it by ear as I know for a fact not all homeless people are dumb bums like some may think.
So there ya go: I am Nev the Bum.