Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Trampin' ain't easy

Now is a good time to stray from all the negativity of late, so I'll respond to Lew's comment from the previous post.

First I said:

6) Keeping yourself alive is two full-time jobs in itself--the hardest two jobs you will have ever had.

Then Lew commented:

I wouldn't mind hearing you expound upon this idea. I think there is some juice in there that could be squeezed. I daresay that most people think that homeless people are drugged up and lazy.

* * * * *

I am not a professional tramp; I am merely a tramp in training (but not really). Unlike real tramps and homeless people, I very rarely ask anyone for help or assistance because my objective is not to solicit. My objective is partly to be a catalyst for people to choose, with their own free will, to do something nice for someone out of the kindness of their heart, without expecting anything in return.

Lew, I'd say you are a perfect example of someone who has done exactly that. If I remember correctly, I wasn't even paying attention when you pulled over on the I-75 on-ramp to offer me a ride across Alligator Alley. I just turned around and saw a white van sitting there, so I picked up my stuff and walked to the van to see what was up. Within a few seconds, I was riding with you toward Fort Lauderdale and we quickly established a very friendly conversation. We talked the whole time, about music and beer and whatnot. You also told me about some bar in the Smoky Mountains. Then, when we arrived in Davie, you took me to a restaurant and bought me fish & chips and a beer. You did it out of the kindness of your heart, without provocation and without the expectation of anything in return. (If I'm not mistaken, though, you feel like you did receive something in return from me, and you also know I keep you on the short list of people I hope I can repay someday. Does that sound right?)

Anyway, to answer your question, when I'm out on the road, I spend most of my time walking somewhere or trying to get a ride somewhere. When walking, I lug at least 55 pounds of stuff for 10-20 miles a day (or sometimes 28 miles). That takes a lot of work, as can currently be evidenced by my enlarged calf muscles and shrunken belly.

When not walking, I'm usually beside an on-ramp or at a truck stop. Although neither of those activities requires much physical effort, each requires a lot of mental labor because you can't just sit there with your brain turned off. You have to keep your head up and make eye contact with the drivers passing you on the on-ramp. You have to keep your head up and make eye contact with the truckers walking past you on their way to the fuel desk.

I must also engage in conversation with people so they can size me up. Sometimes, like when I was in the Flying J restaurant in Gary a couple weeks ago, it becomes a four-hour conversation, which may lead to nothing. (In that case, I talked for four hours with a really cool guy named Al Garcia from Brownsville, Texas. He ended up buying me a lunch buffet before he left. I've been meaning to say something about my encounter with Al for a while.) But sometimes that's how you end up with interesting video footage, too, even though I never turned on the camera during my conversation with Al.

When I have money and choose to buy food from a grocery store, first I have to walk to the grocery store, which may be 2-5 miles away. I usually end up walking another mile inside the store because I have to walk down every aisle at least once, then return to certain aisles after I've sorted everything out in my head. (I carry all my gear the whole time.) How much are apples, clam chowder, Chef Boyardee, Pay Day? Any specials I might want to take advantage of for tonight's dinner--something I must eat ASAP or end up throwing away? Do I dare treat myself to something special tonight, like 3/4 of a pound of cold boneless chicken "wings" for $5? Are there any day-old specials, like a dozen of yesterday's donuts for $2 or less? Don't forget to grab some plastic spoons before you leave. Oh yeah, and fill up your water bottles at the water fountain.

And sleepytime isn't always good rest, either. Like last Friday night, my first night back in central Ohio. Friday night was by far the coldest night I've spent outside. Very, very cold, but not freezing. I didn't get much sleep that night, and it took me a long time to pack up in the morning, due to excessive condensation inside the rainfly. I probably would have been fine, in terms of temperature, if I had an appropriate sleeping bag, but I don't have one yet, although I probably have enough $$ remaining on my REI gift card to get one.

There is a lot more to say here. To be continued...

The Quasi-Aimless Trailer
If you'd like to contact me, call me at 614-738-3867.