On the first day of my experience, thoughts clicked and rattled inside of my brain. On the steps on the shelter, I peered in the past of the city, unkempt and filthy. Glancing at the fine craftsmanship that once made every building a piece of art, now they are derelict structures, yet still somehow more beautiful than the modern cookie-cutter designs in the cleaner and safer parts of the city. Unique structures, art really – but it goes to show that art doesn’t really have an impact on the community. This place was a dangerous dump, and the conversations around me drove that point home. I listened to tales of crime, narcotics, police encounters, and violence that were peppered amongst their daily on-goings, the awful things in life were a common acceptance, like the mail arriving or going to the grocery store. My interest in this was hinged with disinterest as I am not a sympathetic person. The first question I ask myself when it involves the homeless is; what was it that this person did, which drove away all assistance from their family and friends?

Homeless as a Way of Life

Typically the answer involves substance abuse, evasion of responsibilities, or a lifestyle choice. Once you really dig down to the nitty-gritty of the homeless situation, you’ll find that there are countless and unused opportunities presented to the members of this community to get back on their feet from job training, placement, housing, living and sustenance allowance, and so on. The opportunities may not be a fast-track, dream-job, or high-pay but what’s the old adage; beggars can’t be choosers. Although, as it turns out they can and the homeless programs that allow them to stay on the street are the only ones with a line. Programs such as food stamps, free stores, soup kitchens, shelters, welfare, and so on. If you want to live free in America, and earn more than minimum wage, plus tips for doing absolutely nothing – go homeless.

This lifestyle choice also represents a large percentage of the population of homeless veterans, whom I was interested in but I was listening for those few outliers that I could identify – the ones who has not been completely engulfed by homeless life.

The line grouping meandered around me as I kept to myself, listening and watching. I realized that I was no danger, despite the foreboding warnings from the homeless shelter coordinator. Also contrary to Saul’s warning were smartphones and tablets galore, new models as well and in many cases two per person with what appeared to be top-of-the-line data and talk plans. This set two facts for me, Saul was very serious about anonymity, and that there is a surplus expense budget within the homeless lifestyle.