Monday, March 19, 2007

Homeless days

Years ago I was homeless. Like my father before me, I left school for the road, at least for a few months. The following year I did it again for much longer. I remember looking at the trains going by and recalling that Dad refused to teach me how to jump cars, something he knew about from when he worked on the Illinois Central. But I wanted to be a hobo.

I realized that few people really understand the hobo life because it's been outlawed for some time now. That's so curious, it's like a man sawing off his feet so they won't hurt. A hoe-boy is a man who will, among other things, hire out to mindlessly walk in line with others of his ilk, hoeing away in a cotton field, or tomato patch. If he had his own hoe, useful for many things, he could put in gardens for people who had houses but no time.

But the hobo did the same thing that tractors and tillers do now. So the hobo is not wanted, needed or desired. They are the homeless now and possibly crazy or violent or both. So from time to time the streets of NYC suddenly are cleansed of wandering workers and unskilled laborers waving hoes.

There were people who traveled the roads, even going into subdivisions to sharpen lawnmowers, kitchen knives and scissors. I remember, in the 60's how the last of them to drive slowly by seemed tired and quiet. Usually they chattered away about the weather and local dogs. Then they went away, maybe to end up drunks in some inner city park. Or CEO's of some multi-national investing slush fund. Never know, they survived on sharpening knives and putting in tomato patches, harvesting cabbages, knocking down bee hives. Lots of stuff got done when we allowed people to travel freely and work as they felt the need.

My son was trying to do that, but everything costs so much and the trains aren't the same. He's kind of been taken out of the picture now, too. Become a welfare case, taking from the public offering, so long as that service can be maintained. We may decide that sick people are a drag on the system, making us weak and subject to terrorism. So the government may use it's power to turn certain people secretly into non-citizens and by storing them in secret prisons overseas, can eliminate the problem of homelessness and abject poverty. Also this surplus we have of unskilled and skilled laborers who happen to need a lot of money to live on because everything costs so darn much, especially when you consider what the Chinese are paying their workers to make it all. Lots of cash up front. Fortunately the black market can keep our economy from collapsing, until, like in Afghanistan the black market is the bulk of the economy. Then national priorities change and that's when I worry about my son, because he isn't worth much to certain business types.

See, now if I had been taught how to jump on slow moving train cars, I could have been a hobo and taught my son how to be a hobo so he wouldn't have been in that VW van that morning and in a wheelchair today. It's Dad's fault, then, that he was worried if he taught me, I'd do it and get myself killed, or in a wheelchair the rest of my life. He shoulda handled it like he did everything else, hang the consequences, let's have fun!

I would have made a great hobo, although I think I would have liked to model it after the earlier hobos, with the hoe and bag hanging down filled with a shirt, socks and a harmonica... maybe some kerchiefs in red checkers. Cool.

powered by performancing firefox

No comments: