Saturday, August 28, 2010

Good morning Skid Row

While the vampires are out…

#2 NOTEBecause I couldn't get online last night I'm posting this in two different blog postings to break up the length. 

The dorm style room is filled with approximant 100 to 115 bunk beds. The mattresses are plastic and the sheets are badly stained but clean. The pillows are scarce and the blankets are anything but soft and the air is hot, sticky and stale. At least the bathrooms here have full size doors unlike the lounge with half size doors and no locks on either. The best looking room sadly enough is the storage room – wish I could have slept in there.

The women are getting ready for bed in attire I wouldn’t wear even as a joke. Most are smart and wear sweats and a tank top. Others…I’ll never wear bike shorts again. There are some who are ironing clothing for the next day and one woman who is lithe enough to stretch before bed on her top bunk bed. Then there is the woman who meticulously wipes down every part of the metal bed with alcohol including the floor around and underneath her bed. Lots of little stories in this room.

At 10:05pm the lights start to go out. I’m lucky enough to be assigned a bed near a light fixture that is never turned off. Great. It’s like trying to sleep with the lights on. I toss and turn, move this way and that and even though I’m using the pillow less pillowcase as a sleep mask I never truly fall asleep.

  • Wake up and look at the clock 2:30 am
  • Wake up and look at the clock 3 am
  • Wake up and look at the clock 4:15 am
  • Wake up and look at the clock 5:10 am

Wake up requirement is at 5:30 am and women start to get ready at 5am. I sleep in to a whole whopping 5:30 am. No showers in the mornings. If you want a shower you have to wait until 2pm or go down the street for a community shower. Thankfully I have an exercise towel with me so I get it wet and sponge myself clean of at least most of the sweat before putting on clean clothes. Wish I still had my gym membership. I’m too chickenshit to use the showers in Skid Row after experiencing the Day Lounge bathroom.

Yea….it’s time for medical green trays filled with edible surprise. The items on the tray change after every 10th person or so. So many people got something different. Coffee? Noooo the men are served first and if they drink it all oh well, too bad for the woman folk. Fuckers! I wait for the office to open but after almost an hour I just want to get out of that place before I’m forced to migrate back to the land of hopelessness.

I don’t know if I can do this. I don’t want to go back tonight but what other choice do I have? There is no other place to go…until at least Monday. Even as of Monday, I may be forced to stay in Skid Row. Even the thought of going back makes me wonder if its worth it all. I can see how easy it can be to numb your surroundings and deny just how horrible it all really is with drugs.

One woman who was entirely too pissed for my comfort level over the lack of coffee told me that employers in Financial District do not hire anyone with a Skid Row address. As if I would provide a Skid Row address – HELL NO. I’ll put my old address and forward the mail to whatever transitional housing program I get into.

Tips for Skid Row

I don’t know where I learned it or even when. Maybe I somehow just knew it or maybe tidbits of memory are surfacing from my early days when I was with my savior from my {parent} who turned into my “Sleeping With The Enemy” nightmare. Or maybe all the books I’ve read and moves I’ve seen have street educated me. However I learned it I have put into motion some tips I’ve quickly learned or relearned in less than 24hours for staying away from conflict and or being far.

  • When you are eating breakfast, eat with your head down, your eyes level and your ears open. Last night and definitely this morning I noticed a lot of little sparks that could have easily turned into physical conflicts. The coffee less mad woman was definitely not thrilled and I believe she may have been escorted out because she was so mad.

  • When you go to the bathroom don’t forget to get a wad of toilet paper from the office. I plan to grab a stack of napkins from McDs and other places. Don’t take your eyes and if your able to your hands off your bag while going to the bathroom. Don’t make eye contact in the bathroom. One female entity was pretty miffed because a woman in the bathroom glanced over at her while she was going to the bathroom.

  • When your sitting in the lounge or courtyard or pretty much anywhere… Stare into nothing. Don’t stare at anyone.

  • Bump into no one. I bumped into someone with my suitcase and for a second I honestly thought she was going to get out of her chair and “challenge” me. Instead she just grumbled something not understandable.

  • Carry with you as little as possible. The smaller the handbag the better and easier it is to put it under your pillow or hold onto while you sleep.

  • Don’t assume anything about anyone. Last night a woman seemed perfectly nice and this morning she was practically asking for a fight with anyone willing to yell back at her.

  • Say nothing, do nothing, be nothing that can mark you as a target - its about survival. 

When I left the shelter the street looked like a Hollywood setup for a apocalyptic type scene. An ideal set for the TV show Jeremiah. I literately pray I can survive until Monday without upsetting someone, attracting someone and or just marking myself in some way.

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