The Homeless Prince

November 4, 2012

“Ooh oh oh oh oh I walk the way I want to walk…. Put on Your Best Dress Baby.”
Bruce Springsteen. You’ve never been on the street? I mean literally.. for breakfast lunch, dinner and nighty night? You won’t like it. Ever been in an EMERGENCY? When you’re living beyond the home, it’s “everymergency” all the time. Brushing your teeth? Where do you keep the brush and the toothpaste? It’s crowded in those socks and they’re kind of grubby at that. Got gum disease? You might. Eaten cat food? You might. Pooped in a bucket? Yep. Played a guitar at AM/PM? Done it. Bike with trailer? Check. Wash clothes in a bucket? Uh huh. Discover most of (Br)others are borderline felons with prison (not jail) records. Great. Women end up selling themselves for money and/or dope. The “guys” steal from each other, fight, do gang tackle shoplifting at convenience stores and get serious about obtuse priorities.

Anyone with a car is instantly transformed into an all hours ghetto taxi. Don’t want to cooperate? That’s going to be trouble unless you don’t sleep.

You won’t get much notice when you’re about to become homeless. There’s a better chance of finding a local elected official dishing soup at the Mission. If you don’t mind hearing a sermon, hit the local shelter, but they’re crowded and have always been a bit austere. Women and children get priority. Suddenly your voter registration and library cards are not important. Guess what. Darkness is so much scarier than when you were a kid. You always need sleep, but… there’s usually no room or money for the Inn unless you’re really lucky.

Apple, Google and Facebook don’t matter at all and neither does the middle east. Not so bad. Nutrition is a challenge. Hungry again. Everything’s an emergency. I promise. Washed the clothes and got clean somehow? Congratulations. Noodles and rice midday followed by a nap. Eggs for breakfast are a luxury and it’s better to be close to income, groceries and open fire capability unless you’re good at trapping, etc.. Camping? Every day. Economic survival for honest folks is scavenging, recycling and the top of the heap; odd jobs, which is highly dependent on referrals.

I wrote for a local newspaper before it went out of print; business and human interest mostly. In the “yard” where we squatted in squaller, I see my “landlord” talking to the landowner. I know the landowner! I interviewed him for a local story I wrote about water resources. He owns a vineyard and is now the director of the local water district. My”landlord” is surprised I know him. Good. He is reluctant to threaten me now, and has to leave me alone. A reprieve. I am a “yard dog” living on site in a heavy equipment storage yard. The other “yard dogs” steal water from a hydrant to put in a water truck. I get to drive the crazy military surplus clunker around the lot, dumping water on the silty terrain. Broadsliding a 2 ton 6 wheel truck is almost fun. When the sun sets, I’m sleeping in a clapped out motorhome, often waking to the quaking of 5 locomotives pouring on the coal trying to make 40 mph on the way out of the Union Southern Pacific yard.

In the morning before the melting heat near Van Buren and Jurupa, in front of my “rig”, I hold a sign; “Cans and bottles please. God Bless You”. My “rig” is a bike with a trailer full of cans and plastic bottles.

I’m pushing my “rig” through the parking lot of a “Popeye’s Chicken” and a guy pulls up in a dually truck, hands me a twenty, looks me square in the eye and says, “Get yourself something to eat, and… no drinking”. Next thing I remember I’m on my knees in that parking lot, thanking God I don’t drink and practically crawling into the joint to get what at that time would be described as a feast. In one years time, I am proud enough to say I never asked anyone directly for money unless in exchange for goods or services. I’m the guy that hands the homeless guy a dollar.

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5 Responses to The Homeless Prince

  1. Great piece of writing. Love the poem about the relation of adulthood to Grandma & childhood too. I am really happy I found this site!!! Life is filled with irony. Maybe check out my story called “Saved From Himself” in Chicken Soup For The Soul – The Power of Positive, Editor Amy Newmark / Publisher Simon & Shuster. So many similarities. You don’t need to buy the book, it can be read at any Barnes & Noble at your leisure without having to purchase anything at all. Thank you so much,
    Jay H.Berman
    Freelance author, Consumer Advocate & Political Activist

    • Ssgt Cogneti, US Army. says:

      The whole point is that nothing is free. Someone gets paid. Can’t believe you would suggest that this man should go to B&N to read a book for “free”. That is called freeloading. As a freelance author how could you even suggest that? Barnes & Noble has now closed most of their stores. There are libraries everywhere for us. Known Taz for 5 years. He never ask for a handout. Pulled inself out of his situation without taking anything that didn’t belong to him. He is one of the few truly honest men I’ve known. Freedom is not free. Someone pays for it. It wouldn’t surprize me that the owner of the yard had some deal with the county to provide a place for homeless. .

      • tazatator says:

        He might have, but the yard dog (my landlord) didn’t mention it. There’s some kinda reg. that allows onsite security in ‘yards’, but there was more than a couple of us. Shoulda seen his face when I told him i knew the owner. Thanks…

  2. Mark Fin says:

    The real truth of it all is that we all suffer what Taz suffered. I was one step one inch one day from the homeless routine but well I ended up in Bridgewater State Prison/state nut house with people I did not know but we were all the same Addicts & Lost Lost like a homeless person. Thinking back 6 1/2 years ago I would of traded Taz for his position in the streets. I seriously know Taz was lost as I was and he I, in every way, well, minus some bad habits. I Love U man! Taz and I we came upon this thing that we both found. Taz landlord is my landlord the same man! Yip, the same man. Taz knows this and this is the 1st time I read his story and never met Taz. I do think we wrote to each other oh about 10 times or so thru twitter but I will find out soon about that. The person that sent me here wasn’t named Taz but my heart tells me he got many names InAGood decent way that is. Ok back to our landlord His name is Jesus Christ and without meeting Him after 48 long hard years of self inflicted pains, sorrows lies deceits and a few hard 2 smiles when I could look in the mirror I would be dead for sure gone to hell or when all that takes place at judgement but to he’ll down the road. My experience with The Lord happened over time Why? Because I believe that when I said that I would change my ways when asking for another break like number 1000 He wanted to make sure I was on the up & up meaning I wasn’t full of it AGAIN! So! I met a human saint he led me to the 12 steps at AA I ran with the steps not with the crew in AA I was seriously assured In my being that if I followed those steps down the road things would get better. About 3 weeks in My fog in my head was about gone and now I could feel my body my senses my sanity a feeling that maybe Taz had while he was at the paper. Anyway the saint was driving me back to my pad and as he came close to making the turn ( I had no license i lost that with my dignity) I said i believe God is helping me and at the same time I got the peace in my body from head 2 toe The Peace of His Holy Spirit, no lie guys! I explain this feeling to other drug abusers like being on Valium for the first time without the chemical effects. Now the reason why explain the Christ feeling like that is because addicts can relate to this and it is seriously the feeling! I remember bumping into the Happy Holy Rollers a few times in my life, and I wanted what they had even though I wasn’t sure what they actually had. (I wanted the sea to part right now this second type) I was never mean to them because I knew they were Holy. I can’t say it was because I would fear The Lord if I was bad to them (because God gave me a great gift long ago that gift was memory, the type that I can remember stuff like where we were, what in general was said, and at times things like what we were wearing and such.) So i don’t think fear of the
    lord was back at that time? I thought that maybe if I didn’t die I would find out what they had, and I did. I will have to end it there because my eyes are closing, but I Amin a home I own I have a wife now #3 that I was introduced to by Jesus and He wanted to use my mouth to save her and He did just That! We praise Him Donna can tell you that she also felt His Peace He even stood in her body last year when she consoled the people coming to her 21 year old sons wake Bobby was ran over y his friend accidentally and she never wanted revenge from the man we actually became closer and also bobby was a car truck guy so his parts were donated like the parts yard and soon we will meet Abby a 22 year older who would of died if she didn’t get a heart valve part from the bobby parts yard! Man I can go on and on about the miracles Jesus Christ Almighty has done for so many people in the past 6 1/2 years and some prior that He showed me in my past. Wow if you are hurting, lost, or just OK ATM ask Him into your life and like a diet try to do your change to show Him u r for real this time and He will fill you also with His spirit and some day soon we can talk about how you read it here and did it! Without Him I AM Nothing Be good folks I feel the time is getting closer, America is being run by demons & actually possessed with Satan. Pray for that change but be ready at the same time with a saved soul blessed by Jesus, AMEN. GOOD NIGHT

  3. Gracie says:

    Hmmm … good story. Well written. I guess I’m one of the “lucky” homeless. Tho, I can’t say as I’ve felt particularly “lucky” … I am aware that I’ve been blessed!! For that I am grateful!! My homelessness is in a hotel with my 10 yr old son. Its been 7 months and while I work part time, I still have to find houses to clean on the side to make the rent. A few times my local council member helped me & I contributed back by picking up garbage in the community. I never wanted to accept kindness from someone without putting that good energy (karma) back out into the Universe. I’m not sure how the grand scheme of things work, but I know God seems to “show up and show off” just when I’m in the adrenaline fueled throws of my scariest panic!! I try hard to maintain as much “normalcy” as possible for my son. But, I know I’m failing. I know he has moments of fear & panic cuz he’s overheard or seen it in my eyes. That’s not something any little boy should endure! His shoulders should never feel that burden! I find myself “zoning out” within the 4 walls of my laptop. This instrument I use by day to earn what little money I can to pay the rent becomes my escape at night. After homework has been completed, prayers said & tucked the lil one in, I climb into my laptop and seek out what could masquerade as “intellectual adult conversation” … this is it. My existence. I cant define it as “my life” because I don’t feel like I’m scratching to live … I’m fighting to survive. Survive another hotel rent day. I cant think any further than that. And I worry. I worry that I will have to tuck my son in the back seat of the car. I worry how that would feel. I worry what kind of scars are being placed upon what he will eventually look back on as his “childhood memories” … and I sigh a deep heavy sigh!! This sure wasn’t what I had envisioned for my life! This sure isn’t what I invested 29 years into marriage for! No, this wasn’t the plan. Not by a long shot. Oh, but your a Mom, you can get “aide” … wanna bet??? I been sitting on waiting lists for 7 months while living in fear that I wont make it till help arrives. I don’t see it coming. I really don’t. I try not to get mired down in the day to day muckiness that is quickly becoming the 4 walls of my own brain. I don’t want that defeatist mentality to creep out in undertones of my interactions with my son. So I delve back into my laptop. Searching for something, anything, that I can call semi “normal” interaction …. And yea, I’m the chick that always buys the local homeless paper, and hands a dollar to the sign flyer.

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