I was laying on my back on a picnic table next to the library around 9 am. The temp was 2 degrees above zero. Two cops approached me, one yelled something I couldn’t make out from a distance. I just ignored it and continued looking at the sky.
Then when they got closer they addressed me and asked me to stop laying on the picnic table. They said that some church goers called in to report me and they needed to investigate. The cops asked for my ID, asked me if I had anywhere to go, made sure I had no warrants, then left.
I never meant to draw attention to myself. I think my bright orange Goretex pants got more people’s attention. I have laid down on the picnic table before without the cops approaching me about it. I am not interested in drawing the cops attention, but people keep calling them on my actions.
I am in a very public setting with little hope of hiding, while homeless. My car provides no privacy. People just want to see me moving like I have somewhere to go, and if I have no where to go, then I need to be hiding from the public view. Isn’t that strange how perception works?
Maybe, its the weather that is factor? At 2 degrees if anyone is lying down, there must be a possibility they are suffering a medical problem, right? Even if I decided to lay on the grass nearby, I won’t be perceived as relaxing as much as dead from the cold. I will admit that the cold is very rough, but was not suffering at the time. I was overheating from a 2 mile walk to the store and back. I wanted to cool down so I didn’t sweat too much.
The people around here want to stress other people who like to relax for longer periods of time. I have been yelled at many times by drivers and passengers alike as I was on the side of the road walking. They say weird things and shout random calls. It makes me think about dogs barking at you while they are riding by on a vehicle.
In a way, I want to be noticed quickly and easily as I ride my bicycle on the side of the road. I would rather have a person shout at me and avoid me rather than not notice me and run me over. Being seen easily can avoid accidents. However, there are times that I don’t want to be seen.
Avoiding being seen is my problem now that I’m homeless. When it felt like it worked in my favor before, now is working against me and causing extra problems. The relaxing I did in a home cannot be done out in public otherwise I start getting the scorn of the public. The public love to quickly call the police who deal with people like me very aggressively.
So I learned that laying on a picnic table will get the cops called on me. After the public called them, the cop then had to define to me that laying on a picnic is not normal and you are only allowed to sit on it. He went so far as to tell me to sit on the seated part of it, as I was sitting on the table part. I don’t feel that I was causing any problems sitting on the table part and obeyed his command immediately. What if I started arguing about how it makes no difference whether I sit on the table part or sitting part?
I was at the picnic table next to the library because there is a little park there. There wifi Internet extends into the park and I was downloading podcasts to listen to. It was 2 degrees so I can’t keep the iPad out in the elements for very long. I have to pick the downloads and then quickly tuck it into my clothes before it freezes.
I am developing a call record with the cops and they are becoming more familiar with my name and vagrancy. The picnic table call has been the latest. I have no arrests, but after enough calls by the public, the cops may become more hard pressed to exaggerate some violation of the law.
This public scorn is causing extra stress for me. It is stressful enough to try to avoid potential vagrancy situations, without having surprises popping up to taint my name further. The weather, also, is causing a lot of stress as well, of course. Between the public and weather, it is becoming harder to relax.
As a vagrant, I have a lot of time to waste too. Since I rely a lot on the library for a warm place to read, the hours aren’t always in my favor. They aren’t open at night, which is the cold time to deal with. I mostly find myself sitting around wide awake trying to keep warm. There is nothing to do and nothing I can do except wait for the library to open up again or for the weather to warm up so I can expose my fingers to the elements. When it starts dipping below 20 degrees, I can’t expose much skin, and I’m forced to simply wait out the cold.