Day 18 (i, Vagrant)

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Before I begin this post I have to preface it by stating that I firmly believe a man should never have to pay to rest his bones. Having said that, I hope you understand why I did what I did. The temperature last night was below freezing and the snow was not letting up. Setting up my hammock in the snow was certainly an option, and I would have probably jumped at the opportunity, however because it rained all day yesterday a large portion of my possessions were soaked. I couldn’t sleep outside because they’d never dry and there’s nothing worse than starting your morning in wet clothes. Ok so I know what you’re thinking, ‘Tom why not just stay in a hotel or motel?’ Yeah I could have done that. And you would have read a post about how I slept in a motel and watched reruns of Cheers until I was awoken to a sub-par continental breakfast. Is that what you want to read? Or do you want to read about how I slept in a New Mexico rest stop public bathroom? Alright then.

I came in from the cold to be greeted by a heating unit on the ceiling of the men’s restroom. I walked outside for a few seconds. Then I walked back into the bathroom for a few seconds. I walked outside again and shook my head because I knew what had to be done. I assessed the bathroom’s layout. There were two doors of entry, and one roll down door dividing the two. I chose the half of the bathroom with the heating unit. From there I rolled down the dividing door and placed an ‘out of order’ sign on the exterior of the door leading that allowed entry to the half of the bathroom I was staying in. That way, ideally no one would disturb me as I slept, and there would still be a bathroom that was open to the public. These are the lengths I went through to stay warm in exchange for zero dollars and the loss of a tiny bit of dignity. Plus now I have a story. It’s rather uncivilized, I’ll admit, but it continues my illogical principal of not paying for a place to sleep while simultaneously raising the bar on absurd places to spend a night. I used the rainfly from my hammock to avoid contact with the floor. I mean, I still have some pride. Oh God, I can’t believe I’m writing out a play by play of the filthiest place I’ve ever slept. After the human race is extinct, future civilizations will uncover documents like this which demonstrated the capabilities of man, and create art depicting such accomplishments.

It doesn’t get much better from there. Midway through the day I spotted a backpack off the side of the road. It looked full. I was bored of the road. I decided to investigate it. As I approached the bag, the only thought running through my head was that it had to be filled with unmarked U.S. currency. That or drugs. I mean what else could it be? Well upon further inspection the backpack contained a blanket, a bowl, a knife, and some toilet paper. There was no one and nothing for miles. I left the bag alone because the contents were more valuable to its owner than myself. Plus I’m not a thief. Well, sort of. I instantly had flashbacks to a night in San Francisco. I was walking down the street late one night, high off a cocktail of booze, marijuana, and Dinosaur Jr. I turned to my left and saw two men fucking against the side of a building. A few yards from them was a backpack. Without thinking I impulsively grabbed the backpack and ran with it to the nearest alley to see what was inside. I never had the intention of stealing any of the contents. As I reflect back on it I deduced that seeing two men engaging in public intercourse was jarring to say the least. So in a juvenile reactionary move, I countered their mischievous action with one of my own. It makes no sense now, but my drunken mind justified the impulse until I reached the nearest alley. There I opened the bag which revealed a copious amount of syringes and one worn out reebok sneaker. I nearly vomited. Not at what I had seen, but what I had done. Clearly whoever was the proprietor of this backpack needed it a lot more than anyone else. I walked back to the scene of the crime in shame and put the bag back in its original location. The two men were still preoccupied, neither the wiser. Instances like this remind me that I’m still a boy trapped in a twenty-something’s cadaver. That scene will most certainly not be in any San Francisco guide books. No, that haunting night will now take up residence in my memory flophouse right between the time I first experienced blueberries and the time I accidently ran over a squirrel with a car. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you see a backpack that’s not yours, leave it alone.

The weather never really warmed up today and the wind was unyielding. Fortunately for me it was at my back. But whenever I stopped riding, it felt like I was on Hoth. There were no Tauntauns to be seen and I could have really used one because FLAT TIRE ALERT! FLAT TIRE ALERT! That was the last chance for this tire. I flipped my bike over and had to swap tires. Once my exposed fingers made contact with the metal rim, it was lights out. This is my first winter outside of the northeast. I thought that maybe I would be fortunate enough to not feel like my testicles had been swapped out with ice cubes for once. One would thing that southern New Mexico would offer such relief. NOPE. Cold is an insufficient adjective for this wasteland’s tundra. Ten seconds was all it took to lose feeling in my fingers.

As I was screaming “WHAT THE SHITTING ASS MONSTER?” at the top of my lungs towards the sky, a police officer tapped me on the shoulders. To my surprise he was smiling at me.

“Are you ok?” he asked.

“You just saw me at my most vulnerable.” I replied

“Do you want to warm up in the cruiser?”

“I can’t tell if you’re being sincere, or really politely trying to arrest me.”

He laughed.

Tension eliminated. The officer told me that a mile down the road was a rest stop with a heated bathroom. I had to bite my lip while flashbacks of last night flooded my mind. “Thanks” I mustered. He sized me up and returned to his cruiser. A mile down the road I took ownership of the automatic hand dryer and gave each of my appendages a chance to regain feeling.

I reached Deming around 4pm and went straight for the library to warm up. All I had to do to completely mirror the typical day of a homeless person was to ask for change and make threatening remarks towards the U.S. government. Nevermind. All I had to do to completely mirror the typical day of a homeless person was to ask for change. It’s expected to reach 24⁰ F tonight. Man, oh man, oh man, oh man.

Lessons learned:

  • R.E.M. sleep is tough to acquire on a bathroom floor.
  • You don’t have to go far to pee in the middle of the night when you sleep on a bathroom floor.

Stats:

Miles: 63.30

Calories: 2806

Time: 4:35:38

Total Ascent: 1003 ft.

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2 responses to “Day 18 (i, Vagrant)

  1. Thank you for choosing to sleep in the shitter instead of going to a motel. It made for a nice chuckle, not at your expense, mind you. I am laughing with you…

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