Friday, January 23, 2004

Preacher Man......

After I graduated from truck driving school and had received my commercial drivers license, I was hired on by a large national carrier named Werner Enterprises.

The first eight weeks of driving had to be done with a "trainer". Four with one and then four with another in different areas of the country. After spending several days just hanging around the driver's lounge waiting for news, I finally was assigned my first trainer. I was so excited! I was finally going to hit the highways and start my new career.

All truck drivers have what is called a handle. My first trainer was a black man called Preacher Man (for the first few weeks I was simply known as that crazy white kid until I had earned a handle :)). He was on a dedicated route for Dollar General out of a distribution center in northern Mississippi. He was a southern Baptist preacher and would drive five days and have the weekend off. It was a dedicated run and the drivers got special treatment.

After a long and horrible greyhound bus ride from Atlanta to Indianola Mississippi we were on our way. I knew on the first night we were headed out that this was going to be an interesting four weeks (my second trainer Jim aka Toad is another interesting tale as well that I will share later.)

As we were heading out for our first time, he started chatting up a lady on the CB who was in a nearby truck. No sooner than we had almost reached the gate he was turning around to go pick up this lady. It turned out to be a duo of gals and they were what is called Lot Lizards within the trade or simply prostitutes. Preacher soon dropped me back at the lounge after bartering a deal and I had to sit for several hours while he was "preoccupied". I didn't know what to think and just kinda of sat there confused watching TV in the lounge. I did know that my future as a truck driver with this company fell in this one mans hand. Shortly we were back on the road and I was off for my first ride as a Werner employee with the smell of sex permeating the cab. I thought to myself sitting in the passengers seat, my God, what have I gotten myself into?

Well, it turned out that Preacher was a good fellow and treated me well for the four weeks. He just had a few on the side "hobbys" that I didn't care for. We would spend long hours talking to each other about race and discrimination and many other things as one drove and the other sat.

About the third week, I had my first life long experience with blatant discrimination. I have lived all my life in the deep south and have experienced it but it was always of the subtle kind and hard to detect.

During the day we had a headlight go out and no where to buy a replacement as we were in the middle of no where Mississippi. Preacher was getting very worried as dusk approached. If state troopers or local police see a commercial truck with something damaged or not working they have a little light bulb that pops over their head with a dollar sign in it. Sure enough after night fell, we were soon pulled over and Preach got a hefty ticket and a stern talking down to by a state trooper. Preach was livid and mad as hell and told me if I had driven because I was white I would have just got a warning. I then told preach that I would drive and lets see what happened that next time we were pulled over.

Within about an hour, I see blue and red lights flashing in my side mirror so I pull off into the median after several miles of trying to find a big enough shoulder to hold the truck. The local cop walks up and asks me to step out of the cab. He was really nice and just wanted to inform me that my headlight was out and to get it fixed asap to comply with the law. Man, that sucked and I felt so bad for Preacher. Life sometimes is just not fair at all.

I have a bunch of pictures from truck driving on my computer and would like to post them. I am going to try and find some way of free hosting online and will get them up soon.

Distraught and Angry, that is the mood tonight......

I have done a lot of research on being homeless and blogging today and I am not in a good mood as of the result. I can be very obsessive sometimes and spent way too much time today searching various websites and blogs on homelessness using many different sets of keywords with google and other search engines.

I had written in an earlier comment box that I didn't want to gain readership as my goal but I am human and that was not the truth. I want acceptance and an audience. I want people to think that what I write has meaning and is important. We all want a voice and when someone finds that voice unique or interesting and they tell you so it is a great comfort and a boost to your ego.

Many times I wanted to curse with the worst words imaginable but I restrained myself because I thought it would alienate visitors and they would no longer return to hear what I had to say. I also wanted to talk about topics that would make the majority of the average American public wince in discomfort and did not do so because I was more interested in being heard than being honest with myself and with what I write.

I also learned that there is a class system among the homeless and that they, being human, judge other homeless people almost as ruthlessly as those with homes do with the homeless. I now consider myself as the "high class" homeless in that I was fortunate enough to gain certain things before my illness digressed and I was left without a home. Do I have a choice in my current situation? Yes I do. The choice is simply A)being homeless and living in a tent, and B)Having a home and being a zombie under the supervision of my father due to the medications that would be forced upon me. What would you choose? Tough choice isn't it? I could be creative, alive, and homeless or I could be in a home and sleep away my days in a hazy stupor with a constant drool of spittle out of the corner of my mouth.

I have read many blogs lately on homelessness, many by the homeless, and they all define being homeless from their own perspective. Nothing pisses me off more than when another homeless person talks about or denigrates another homeless person as being not as homeless as they are or by talking about addiction or substance abusing homeless as if they are not on the same level or their lives are not as important.

I read one homeless blog in that the writer showed great discontent with panhandlers and beggars and yet they freely get handouts by mail or paypal from their readers and do not even credit the benefactors who had given in their blog. They go on to talk about if you give them(panhandlers, druggies, beggars) money or food then you are enabling them to carry about with their addictions. I sometimes wonder if these same homeless people stopped to think that the same services these major cities provide are enabling them to be homeless. They sleep in shelters and they eat in soup kitchens provided for free and with public assistance. Is the public enabling the homeless? That argument could as easily be made much as the same argument in that the handouts to panhandlers supports their addictions. If you didn't have these services then I am quite sure you would go to even greater lengths to find food and shelter.

I just get so tired of having everything I do or say being controlled or monitored by others. Peer pressure can be such a master to the common slave. I am so cynical lately and sometimes wonder if true freedom is a farce in our current society. If you say what you believe you are berated and forced to tow the party line. If your experience is different from the norm then it is either unacceptable or invalidated.

/end of rant

My Favorite Quotes...

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.”
--- Mark Twain

“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.”
--- Elizabeth Hubbard

“Can we actually ‘know’ the universe? My God, it’s hard enough finding your way around Chinatown.”
--- Woody Allen

“All the people like us are we. And everyone else is they.”
--- Rudyard Kipling

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
--- Will Rogers

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
--Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.”
-- Minna Antrim

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-- T. S. Elliot

“The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues – self-restraint.”
-- Edwin Way Teale

“It is good to have an end to journey towards, but in the end it is the journey that matters.”
-- Ursula K. LeGuin

“No, I was never lost, but I was confused for a few days once.”
-- Daniel Boone

“To different minds, the same world is a hell and a heaven.”
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
-- Helen Keller

Q. What’s the difference between a hiker and a homeless person?

A. Gortex
--Big Red aka Greg Benkert

“Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.”
-- Leo Buscaglia

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not touched by frost.”
-- J. R. R. Tolkien

“The art of life is often lost in the pace of living.”
-- Danette Rice

“There is no arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an eastwind is to put on your overcoat.”
-- James Lowell

“For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”
-- Henry Louis Meneken

“Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
-- Pooh’s Little Instruction Book

“Never discourage anyone… who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
-- Plato

Press on: Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
-- Calvin Coolidge

“If I had my life to live over I’d like to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier that I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans.. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter that I have. I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would ride more merry-go-rounds, I would pick more daisies”
-- Nadine Stair

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong – because someday you will have been all of these.”
-- George Washington Carver

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please.”
-- Mark Twain

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”
-- Sir John Lubbock

“It Is not the critic who counts; no the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who comes short again and again because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory not defeat.”
-- Theodore Roosevelt

“My sources are unreliable, but their information is fascinating.”
-- Ashleigh Brilliant

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”
-- Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.”
-- Dr. Seuss

“In certain trying circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity furnishes a relief denied even to prayer.”
-- Mark Twain

“Going into the woods and the wild place has little to do with recreation, and much to do with creation. For the wilderness is the creation in its pure state, its processes unqualified by the doings of people. A man in the woods comes face to face with the creation, of which he must begin to see himself a part – a much less imposing part than he thought.”
-- Wendell Berry

“I know of no higher fortitude than stubbornness in the face of overwhelming odds.”
-- Louis Nizer

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Always fight for your homeland....

One thing 9/11 has taught us is that we must fight for our country and destroy those who wish to take it from us! We must do what ever it takes no matter what the cost to see that our homeland is secured. With that said I urge you to read the following...

Before the middle of the 16th century the Creek controlled almost all of Georgia. At that time the Cherokee (and later whites) began to pressure them to move inland. A "tremendous battle" occurred at Slaughter Gap in Lumpkin County in the late 1600's. After this battle the Creek retreated to a line roughly south of the Etowah River. A later battle in Cherokee County forced the Creek south to the Chattahoochee and Flint(Thronateeskee) Rivers and west to the Coosa(mostly in Alabama), hence the terms Upper Creek and Lower Creek became common references to the now separate tribes.
Read this link to find out more.

/end satire and sarcasm

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Hunting Arrow Heads.....

It was a beautiful day today. The sky was clear, bright, and a beautiful shade of blue. The temperature got up in the mid fifties and it felt so warm and good.

I spent some time this morning looking for indian arrow heads. They are very abundant in this area. Used to, in the old days, you could walk behind the mule and plow as it tilled the soil and find many spearheads and arrowheads. (One of my father's cousins amassed a huge collection doing this. Many were of museum quality.)

I didn't find any thing but broken bits and pieces today. A few weeks ago, I found a really nice arrowhead with the perfect classical shape and keep it in my backpack despite the added weight.

The creek Indians that lived here had a large population and a unique culture but most of them were shipped off to reservations in Oklahoma during the 19th century. Today it's hard to believe that all of this area was populated by a people whose language, culture, and way of life were completely different from our own. The only thing left of their culture I can find are shaped bits of stone.

I also spent some time today working on my other blog on computer repair and it is slowly taking shape. I am just having a hard time organizing all the material in a way that pleases me. Hopefully soon, I would post a link and officially publish it.

Yesterday, I spent an hour navigating the maze that is the social security website learning about the ticket to work program. (thanks to a commenter for the info and the link!) You can spend forever navigating the numerous wild link trying to find what information you need. Surely, they could find an easier and more concise way to organize their website.

The ticket to work program was implemented in Alabama this last November so it is still new here. You can earn up to a certain amount without losing your benefits. You have to find a job or vocation that fits certain criteria and guidelines though for reasons of rehabilitation. (I am being presumptuous and sarcastic but I will bet you money that bagging groceries is an accepted vocation but not teaching arts and crafts to children at a camp! :P) You can also go back to work for up to 60 months and not have to go back through the tortuous application process if your disability worsens for some reason and you are unable to work for a time.

The website still left many questions unanswered so I have tried many times this afternoon to call but always get a busy tone. I will try to get over here early in the morning and call as soon as they open in the hopes to get straight through.

Predatory Crows.......

The strangest thing just happened. It was almost surreal and my heart is still racing from it.

As I was standing outside soaking up some sun and having a smoke, a huge group of starlings landed in the big oak tree beside the house. All the sudden, with a huge fluttering roar, they took flight and out of the tree came crashing down a crow with a much smaller starling in his grip. The landed in the ivy and all I could hear were the cries of the starling for several minutes until they became weaker and ceased. Soon, other crows started to show up to join in on the attack.

It was so weird. I never knew crows were predators of other birds. I guess you learn something new every day. Well, let me head off on my walk.

The Voluntary Homeless........

I found a blog about a guy named Dion who is attempting to hike from Alabama to Quebec. I really enjoyed some of his writings as he puts so much feeling into them. The November archives on his blog are especially noteworthy. These deal with the start of his journey from Mt. Flagg near Montgomery Al. to Mt. Cheaha (the highest mountain in Alabama) on the Pinhoti trail. I love the stories of his interaction with the locals.

He is currently on the Appalachian Trial north of Springer mountain Georgia after taking a month off for the holidays.

I can understand his motives. The thing that amazes me the most is that his wife encourages him and allows him to be gone so long. If he never took any breaks it would take over 8 months for this journey. My wife would have never supported or allowed me to do that. I couldn't even go to the store with out her tagging along. She would just go crazy if I stayed up past eleven PM. Now she will not even see me or talk to me. Life's weird.

I am going to start some training and conditioning today. I am already homeless and living much of the time outside in the elements so why not put it too a positive use like Dion? I need some goal or direction in my life and maybe the therapy of hiking long distance could help me.

I am going to pack up my backpack and start at 5 miles today and then slowly move up the mileage every few days. The only thing that bothers me about this is that as I hike more and more the more calories I will burn and thus the more food I will need to consume and buy. I will just have to be frugal and not spend too much on food. (On the AT is pretty common knowledge that you will burn over 4000 calories a day with a heavy pack and good mileage!)

I have set a short term goal for an expedition I want to take and this will help motivate me in my efforts. There is a local abandoned railway line nearby that runs about 25 miles to Lafayette Al.(pronounced Lafette locally) and I want to take 2 or 3 days and hike it. I want see what interesting relics or structures remain along the right away. It probably hasn't been used in over 20 years.

If you want to check out Dion's trail journals then click on the link below.....

Dion hikes from Alabama to Quebec

Monday, January 19, 2004

Life's little conundrums.....

I got a reply back from the director of the camp. He basically stated that they do not take volunteers but would like for me to apply for employment. He said he was sending me a application and information packet and the latest promotional DVD. He also stated that he was going to be at Auburn University Feb. 17 and wanted me to come down and talk to him after his recruitment session.

I can understand why. A counselor or camp staff has to sign a 3 1/2 month contract to the camp and that ensures that they will stay and work the whole summer where as a volunteer would not be bound by this and could just up and leave on a whim. This could put the camp at a disadvantage. I would never do that but I do understand the reasoning.

The main reason I wanted to volunteer was to keep my SSDI. If I go to work full time at camp this summer I would lose my benefits. At the end of the summer I would still be homeless and without an income as well. Not a very good situation. I need to keep my SSDI in case my disability worsens or something happens. It is my lifeline currently.

I am not sure what I am going to do or what to email him back. I will sit on it for a few days and think about it.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Brrr...Cold as a sitting polar bear's butt this morning......

The weather can be such a fickle thing. I love a good rain but I know that in the winter that rain is usually followed by a strong blast of cold air after the front moves through.

Last night after riding back to my camp pretty late it was still a balmy 59 degrees. I got in my sleeping bag and was sweating my butt off. You have to be really careful with a down sleeping bag because if it gets too wet you lose much of it's insulation and loft and can get yourself in a miserable predicament. So, I unzipped it and folded it flat and pulled over me a light weight fleece camping blanket I had in my pack. This was much more comfortable and I was soon sound asleep.

Another problem with sleeping in a tent in cool weather is condensation. If you don't open the mesh vent flaps or front door on my tent before you go to sleep, your body heat inside the tent will keep the air a few degrees warmer than the outside air. Water will start to condense on the cooler tent ceiling and walls over night and they will be coated with dew by the morning. All it takes is a slight bump of your head to your tent as you rise up from your sleeping bag in the morning and it will "rain" inside the tent. This can make even the most stalwart religious man cuss like a sailor.

I awoke about 5am this morning and was completely chilled and shivering. I looked at the thermometer on my pack and it was 36 degrees. Man, the temperature really dropped last night in just a few short hours. I bundled up in my sleeping bag, closing the draft collar tight and soon got warm again and back to sleep.

I woke back up around 6:30 am and spent some time getting dressed and moving. I have learned to either sleep in my clothes or keep them in my sleeping bag as it can be pure torture putting on a cold pair of jeans or tennis shoes in the morning. It sure will wake you up better than the strongest cup of coffee.

I have used up much of the locally available fallen limbs and downed trees and have to go ever longer walks to find wood but these brisk walks really help your body and feet warm up. I built a small fire using lots of dry pine straw as kindling and then built a tepee of branches and limbs around it. Smaller sticks and twigs near the kindling and the larger branches on the outside. The fire took little time to light after I gave up on my emergency fire starter and used a piece of toilet paper and my lighter.

I had bought a magnesium fire kit at walmart many weeks ago for an emergency in case my lighter gave out or my water proof matches failed for some reason. It seemed simple enough on the package. Heck , I was bored and wanted to try something different. A challenge. You were supposed to take your knife and scrape off shavings from the magnesium block and form a pile amid the kindling. Then after you get a decent pile, you take the back of your knife and strike a cylinder of flint epoxied to the back of the mag block. It lit all right but it burned so fast and bright it was out in a second and wouldn't start the kindling. I guess there must be a trick that escapes me so far. As with most things on paper they look easy but are hard in practice. Oh well, I will keep trying and see how my results come out next time.

I am now at the house now. It is a comparatively warm 56 degrees in here. Much better than the current blustery 37 degrees outside.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Well, I did it......

I got up the courage to email the camp director so hopefully I will hear back some news on my proposal to him this week. Wish me luck as this just may be the break I have been looking for.

Here is the email I sent.....

Dear Donnie, Chuck, or Chris,

My name is Jonathon and you may remember me. I was a camper and CIT at falling creek for many years. I was also a counselor my last summer at camp and my brother Alex was my CIT. I worked in the kitchen the summer of York Pharr's last tenure as the owner and at the same time was helping in Arts and Crafts so am quite familiar with both areas.

I was wondering if you ever excepted offers for volunteer work for preseason and/or summer work. I have a steady income from Social Security Disability so I do not need a salary. I do have a disability but am quite able to do physical work such as helping in the kitchen, helping with hikes(I was planning on hiking the Appalachian trial some day and have all the gear to do so), Arts and Crafts, or just doing various odd jobs like landscaping and camp clean up.

Going to Falling Creek every summer as a child was one the greatest experiences of my life. My memories of attending there are some of the best I have and those were some of the best times of my life.

The only compensation I would ask in return is simple bed in the kitchen crew cabin(or other cabin) and meals. I would bring me great joy to be able to help with something that meant so much to me. This would be the greatest award I could gain from this endeavor.

I do hope you will consider my offer and I would very much like to hear your thoughts on this proposal. Take care and have a good week.



Friday, January 16, 2004

Cast of Characters

I thought I would write up a revised cast of characters for those of you new or unfamiliar with the blog. These are the people I write about in my daily tales. It is kind of hard to grow familiar or attached to these characters if you just jump in and swim so to speak if you are a new reader.

I have been writing about the gang as I affectionately call them for years now. My interactions with them ebb and flow as life changes. They usually hang out at the shopping center which is a ten minute walk from my house. Lately, I have been seeing more of them now that George is out of jail. George is kind of the lifeblood of the gang and keeps them together as they all consider him a best friend as do I. George introduced me to all these interesting people and their interesting lives.

Be forewarned that some of the gang can use coarse and crass language in their conversations. I capture our interactions warts and all so if such language offends you then skip the “George and the Gang” posts and read my daily musings.

  • Carolyn – Carolyn is my 45 year old girlfriend of some months. She worked for years as a third shift convenience store clerk at a store named Fat Albert’s. She recently took a job working with Wal-Mart for more money and the chance to work the day shift. We have dated before and she shunned me when I revealed my mental illness. She has come to realize that I do have failings, but I am not some crazy schizophrenic killer. I love her dearly and she feels the same for me. She is divorced after 18 years of marriage and has a grown son named David.

  • My mother, Martha – I often speak of my mother in these tales. She is a retired school teacher and taught for over thirty years. She also suffers from late onset schizophrenia and struggles to get out of the bed everyday. I try to call her or go see her once a day and encourage her to get out of the house. We go eat dinner every Thursday night without fail these days and I enjoy our time together. My readers of the blog enjoy my writing about our meals and interactions together. I enjoy sharing them and capturing them in words as well.

  • George aka Sherman – George is around fifty years old and recently got out of jail after being incarcerated for months on a driving under the influence charge. George has an affinity towards overindulging in beer and wine and drinking and driving. George also prodigiously smokes the cheapest cigars he can find and you never see him without one dangling from his mouth. I and George have grown to be best friends over the years despite our vastly different cultural upbringings and lifestyles. George usually carries poor, minority people around this small southern town for money. Our town being so small, we don’t have a reliable taxi service. George also never fails to make me laugh and smile and I hope you will also find this quality about him endearing. Despite his leanings towards being a drunk, he is a kind and gentle soul with a foul mouth being his only real drawback to his personality.

  • Pookie – Pookie is George’s crack-head, crack-whore girlfriend. I have never figured out what George sees in her. She will often steal from him and takes his wallet after their love making sessions. Pookie runs a crack house in a very poor, rundown neighborhood nearby that often gets raided by the police. I asked George once what was so alluring about her and his words were, “She will fuck your brains out.” And take your money without your permission, I might add.

  • Ferret – Ferret is a good fellow who has had a past of alcoholism, mental illness, and homelessness. He recently just got out of a group home for homeless alcoholic men down in Columbus, Georgia. He said they preached too much about Jesus and God and not enough on how to stay sober and clean up your life. Ferret is currently homeless again after trying to live with his alcoholic mother for awhile. His tent is down in the woods next to the grand Chattahoochee River and the railroad tracks. I am sure I will be down there often to visit with him in the upcoming months. I also do what I can to help make his homelessness more comfortable being a formerly homeless man myself with a lot of experience camping and living out of doors during the winter and summer months.

  • Big S – Big S is a panhandler and not my favorite of the gang. He is very forceful with his methods and uses intimidation to get spare change and money out of the people he accosts. For the longest time, he hung out down at the shopping center near my house. He has recently moved across the river to another shopping center to do his panhandling. Big S is a big, hulking fellow that is certainly not missing any meals. He also lives with his sister and her five kids rent free. He says she steals his disability money for her meth habit though. I doubt it. He is most likely eating up those funds. I am sure Big S will gravitate back to his old stomping grounds now that George is back in town and out of jail.

  • Cap w/ Tag Guy -- Cap w/ Tag Guy is a ubiquitous regular down at the shopping center. He rarely speaks and I once thought he was mute. He spends his days idly standing around listening to his walkman as he watches life pass him by. The rumor was he once sold crack cocaine to support himself, but now receives some sort of government assistance. He gets his nickname from the price tag that dangles from his baseball cap that rides high upon his head. That fad was all the rage in the late eighties and early nineties. Cap is a little behind the times.

  • Droopy -- Droopy is becoming a more regular member of the gang. I worked with Droopy years ago at a towel warehouse so we are already familiar with each other. He is “retired” and lives off of his social security pension. He is an incredibly odd looking fellow and gets his nickname due to the fact that his face looks as if it were melting wax and sliding off his facial bones. He also has the saddest looking and gaunt eyes. He is kind of an enigmatic character most days. You will often see him constantly walking about town going to his various social avenues. The only bad thing about Droopy is that he likes to bum cigarettes and money and will ask you for them constantly. I have often told him to hang out with Big S and learn the panhandling trade instead of bothering me. He always says panhandling is beneath him. That remark made me scoff.

  • Dumpster Diving Dan -- Dan is a creature of habit. He has the same routine everyday. Each morning at dawn, he checks the dumpsters behind the shopping center for any food or items thrown out overnight by the night shift. He says the early bird gets the worm and also the unspoiled food. Dan is one my favorites of the gang and I look up to him. He has a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that only his experiences in the world and his age can bring. Dan is also a veteran of the Vietnam War. He came home after the fall of Saigon and spent a lot of years recovering and finding himself. He once said he battled with alcoholism due to the war, but rarely drinks these days. I have only seen him drink beer once or twice. Dan also cares for and feeds a flock of seagulls over by the river every morning after his dumpster diving without fail. You will sometimes find me down there with him helping with the morning feeding.

  • HIV/AIDS Guy - HIV/AIDS Guy is another beggar and panhandler. I despise him. He is actually fit as a fiddle and perfectly healthy. His uses the guise of saying he is dying of aids to get money out of people. He will ask you for money for his hospital bills and medications. You will also often see him with one of those hospital ID bands around his wrist. It will eventually get worn out and he will have to go back down to the emergency room and feign illness to get another. All the other groupies avoid this guy because when he shows up the police usually follow shortly as well. He has a penchant for shoplifting. I haven’t seen this guy in months, but he has a knack of showing up unexpectedly so I added him to the cast of characters.

  • Dexter - Dexter is a slightly mentally retarded fellow that can often be seen walking through town everyday. He is a new addition to the gang and I haven't had a lot of tales about him yet. I am sure more will follow soon. Dexter was recently arrested for stealing fried pork chops out of his next door neighbor's kitchen. He ate eight whole pork chops in one sitting. "That must have been one powerful hunger," I told George about it the other day.