April 27, 2005
Homeless By Choice
I don’t know how this is so fascinating, but dagnabit, I couldn’t stop reading. It’s a blog about how to rock homelessness.
I’m sitting here in my temperature-regulated apartment, eight feet away from my washer and dryer, twelve feet from a hot shower and two feet from my bed. I imagine stowing away in my car for the night on a residential street, hoping no thieves or police disturb my sleep. I imagine waking up, driving to an unfamiliar gym, and feigning interest in a new membership for the hope of free access to the bathing facilities. There’s a perverse twinge of romance in all of this. Or is it perverse?
It is a well kept secret that homelessness can be freedom and comfort can attend it. The secret is well kept because revealing that you are homeless in this society is dangerous. There is stigma. There are even laws prohibiting it. Imagine that. There are laws against being homeless. Let me say that one more time. There are laws against being homeless.
I don’t know if you can help reading this site and wondering if you could do it. Then again, I could also be really strange.
Let me give you an example of a successful bloodless conflict. I was packing up a storage unit one day, and I had only that day to finish. In the same facility a man was screaming at his soon-to-be-ex-wife on a cell phone, and creating an atmosphere that I found intolerable. I decided to stop this guy from yelling. I yelled at him forcefully, Hey! Shut the hell up!
Well, predictably this brought the man’s wrath toward me. He started yelling at me and making aggressive gestures, and at that moment I did something he could not have expected. I submitted. I wimped out. I apologized and said I should mind my own business. I backed down.
Now, the soon-to-be-ex-wife was no longer on the phone, so he couldn’t yell at her. He had no way to yell at me, or continue to bring a fight to me, because I had backed down. He grumbled and muttered and hurled a few insults at me, but he stopped yelling and I got back to work in blissful quiet. Understanding the nature of winning, the precise goals I was trying to achieve, allowed me to give my opponent the illusion that he won while I got everything I wanted.
And no one got hurt. Always seek the scenario in which no one gets hurt.