Rogue to Robes - My Trainhopping Story - Part 1 (1 Viewer)


Tamah Go Das

I closed my account
Part 1: Preface of my life and how I ended up hopping trains,etc.

By February 2005, I had had enough. Enough working miserable jobs for minimum wage like an ass for the very grass I was plowing and sleeping on just to weigh myself down further into the self-dug/wallowing pit of suffering I had dug for myself. Enough frying my brain and liver with alcohol, enough pre-mature hypertension from half a lifetime of drug (I overdid it on the stimulants) and alcohol abuse (and what to speak of all the stress and built up baggage and anger), enough of the so-called friends and family who I had thought were supposed to love and care about me but if they had their way I'd still be literally killing and damning myself, enough wasting my time, enough feeling stupid and down on myself, enough liquid diahrea/irritable bowl syndrome (from stress and a diet consisting of mostly highly processed meat products, tobacco and beer), enough of my drug addict/drunken whore x-girlfriend, enough of everyone hating me, enough of no one ever wanting to do anything cool or constructive, *enough being a bum - relying on fellow losers for rides, beer, food and money*, enough trying to be supremely cool when its just a lie, enough t.v. brainwash network garbage, enough waking up at odd hours of night paralyzed -not able to speak or move -as if evil spirits are attacking me(seriously), enough sleeping my life away, enough being physically and mentally unstable, enough of the same old cycle of fighting with my family and friends about the same old bullshit again and again, and enough not knowing what the fucks gonna happen at death (afterlife, eternity, etc. a notion I've never been able to brush off).

It seemed that my karma of being able to in any way "enjoy life" amongst family and friends had run out and I had been searching for Absolute Truth and a better way. I'm the kind of guy who is not content with representing something without living it and though there were some fun times being a hedonistic punk and skinhead it definitely wasn't filling the deep void and pit within the core of my being but rather deteriorating and killing me. I knew there had to be a better way than work, drink, sleep, repeat. I am very young (early 20s) but I started partying very early - that along with a fucked up life, like alot of ppl, grew me up quick, and had me realizing things that some people - well frankly - never realize. Like for instance, the reality of death. Anyway, like I said, by February of last year I had had enough.

For the first time in my life I was determined to seek a better way --100 % divorcing the consumerist society and the beliefs I had been raised around and had trusted living in the 'Bible Belt' of Memphis,TN. I wanted to go back to what I thought were my roots of a more earthy, natural and free spiritual being. I was seeking adventure, enlightenment, happiness, and sense gratification. I had what I still consider a handful of "spiritual experiences" while on mushrooms where I seemed to have experienced the mercy of God/Christ within the core of my being and an exchange/outpouring of intense ecstatically blissful love and forgiveness. I had strong faith in the use of entheogenic "teacher plants" and was looking forward to making my way to a peyote church in AZ.

Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with and would daydream of the idea of being a hobo walking down the tracks with a big back pack. Somewhere I had heard about trainhopping and more recently had a fellow musician/drinking friend named Ian who I had heard was a trainhopper which is probably why the idea randomly popped in my head and stuck. Growing up in Memphis, to meet anyone cool or who hopped trains was a rarity. Its not the kind of place where theres alot of strips where gutter punk kids hang out and spange or anything like that, in fact to see anyone living in the gutter/begging with style was unheard of there as far as I knew. Though ultra-hip, the Memphis DIY-counter-culture scene is mostly working ppl who live in apartments and houses (though there is one anarchist communal house) - trainhoppers and squatters were/are quite rare there. Seeing as how I was against all odds support-wise, I got on the ol' internet and searched trainhopping and discovered some websites on the matter wich encouraged and inspired me to go through with the idea.

The Journey to Now

It didn't take me too long to pack up my shit and get dropped off under a bridge in a South Memphis county-ghetto area where the trains seemed to go real slow as my friend had suggested. We didn't even know if it was a yard or not but it seemed like a good place and he had to go so as a last minute decision I was dropped off and I hauled me and my heavy army-surplus bag through the wooded area, down the hill, hoping to hop on the moderately slow moving train that was heading south. (By the way New Orleans was my destination since it seemed to be closest and coolest city in a straight line south and southwest into Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, etc).

The train was speeding up and didn't seem ride able so I relaxed (I was only expecting to ride open boxcars). My friend who dropped me off couldn't resist but to park and come check out my travel origination. He had pointed out a sleeping bum up in the crack of the bridge who I had also noticed and gave me his long hunting knife for protection (this friend has a wild imagination). After he (my friend) left I tried building a campfire under the bridge but all the wood, paper, and sticks I was finding were either too damp or covered with bridge dirt-scum for the fire to go beyond an odd smelling smolder. Soon it was dark and I shined my flashlight up into where the sleeping bum had been who was now sitting upright looking at me and I said something like, "Hey there, you alright?" which was to my pleasant surprise reciprocated with a warm, friendly and humble response rather than a "Ain't you got no sense shining flashlights up in peoples faces and shit?" which was more of the type of response I was expecting. The dark complexion and old friendly voice invited me up closer to chat after I asked if he hopped trains and revealed that thats what I was doing. So I gladly walked up the concrete slope to see a little old fairly-skinned black man bundled up nicely in a red sleeping bag and insulated hoody. I think the first thing I could have sworn I noticed was that he was using a cup for urinating in to drink beer from out of a 40oz.*(damn-it this is making me want to drink ,wait a minute euh?!)* We immediately were absorbed in a friendly and energetic conversation which consisted of friendly sentiment/alcohol induced mundane talk of something like, "Yeah man you can ride with me, I'm the type of guy who blah blah blah, I'm your friend, yeah I like you you seem cool, etc, etc, etc." in fact I think he actually said,"I love ya" in a casual, buzzed, southern hospitality type of way. He was buzzed and I was extremely happy having just so happened to be dropped off under a random bridge with someone who seemed to be a god-send - a New Orleans native/veteran hobo by the name of "Cajun Red" who immediately agreed to help me get to New Orleans and was sending me to the beer store to buy 40s with his money! I was a happy camper. So through that cold February night I made two trips to the tiny ghetto-ass country corner store and bought cheap 40s and me and Cajun agreed we'd help each other stay warm buy lying at opposite ends of each-other, both in our separate sleeping bags, and we laid back and he yapped a lot and I reciprocated by pretending to listen and follow along with everything he was saying though my mind was just anticipating the journey to come. I tend to give strangers the benefit of the doubt too much and the fear of Cajun having homo-intentions was barely in the back of my mind but at one point when I guess the conversation that mostly he was having went off into a humorous perverted area he sort of subtly and randomly mixed in a real quick and slightly confusing,"You wanna lay yo head up heeya?" ('here' - in his Cajun accent, which was unwanted homo-encounter # 1) and I just kind of pretended like I didn't understand and he quickly moved the conversation along like water under a bridge. Usually I would be struck with anxiety at such a notion but Cajun seemed so little and innocent and just goofy so it didn't really bother me too much. Besides, I was determined to get to New Orleans, and I wasn't gonna let that stop me. I think it was later that night that he, between conversations, snuck in a quick apology and said he didn't mean anything by it and I again just kind of played dumb. I guess he was testing me, just in case I was down for some homo-sex(shutter) . Before long we were both out cold.

We both kind of woke up around seven-ish the next morning I remember. It was a beautiful sunny day with a wind chill but hot sunshine. We shared the last 40 oz. and a hand-rolled a Bugler cigarette and started making our way down the tracks. I remember it already felt so amazing walking down the tracks in my hobo-gear (HEY I AINT NO YUPPY ALRIGHT!!) This is when I realized that it was in fact a small train yard I had been dropped off near. Me and Cajun sat back for hours in acouple of little jungles he apparently had frequented several times before (by the way Cajun had said when I first started talking to him the night before that he was headed north to Chicago but then was like "fuck it" and agreed to help me get to New Orleans.) The engineers and yard workers noticed us and I wasn't completely clear if we were trying to lay low - following Cajun's lead - it seemed we kinda were but at the same time not too worried about it.

As we sat in one of the jungles and I snacked on my peanut butter and bread Cajun was telling me hilarious stories about how when he was my age and how he and his friends would do stupid mischievous shit but not "fucked up shit" like "young people these days." He told me about how he and his buddy used to go drink corn whiskey in those above-ground tombs in New Orleans and would go in their and drink all night and not come out until morning. One day they came out just as a tour was passing and the tour guide was speaking on the haunted grave. Cajun said that he and his friend's skin was powdery white from being in the chalky tomb with frizzed out hair and bright red lips from the corn whiskey apparently scaring the living hell out of the awe-struck crowd causing a woman to faint as they arose from the tomb! Cajun was to that day still extremely tickled by the memory to say the least as was I. He also told me about how he and his friend used to steal chickens from this family's yard and sell them back to them (and it was funny the way he told it).

I remember it was around 2:30 that afternoon when we finally got on the train that had been rolling back and forth for hours getting built (I guess thats what it was doing). We got on the back of a grainer and after about half an hour were on our way south at about 40 miles an hour and then 50 and then 60, 70, 80, etc. This was my first time to actually ride as a traveling passenger on a freight train (Ive always liked to jump on and off them) and it was exhilarating. Its one of the best feelings I know finally getting on that train and relaxing on a free ride (except for all the sacrifice and austerity involved) as your hauled through beautiful practically unseen scenery and just being out there in my hobo-gear in the train yard did instant wonders for my self-esteem and I relished a feeling of achievement as we hauled through the beautiful swampy-looking Mississippi country-side.

It got chilly real quick and Cajun Red was for some reason being real bitchy about something having to do with me and my sleeping bag that I was tightly bundling close into. The train kept stopping wich was adjacent to Cajun - him mildly ranting something about "those young engine drivers" how they supposedly go too fast and how the engineer is a fool for stopping too much yadda, yadda, which apparently wasn't common on that route which he had been taking for the past 30 something years. As night fell I began feeling a little claustrophobic, and was a bit hesitant to go along with Cajun's suggestion of me crawling into and sleeping in the small triangular hole just big enough to nap with ones legs bent with him sitting in the middle blocking me from suddenly busting out if I were to go into a claustrophobic panic - but I did and it required some serious meditating to keep cool and fall asleep (for those of you who don't know - a grainer is a unit that carries grain, etc, which can be ridden on the back where there's a porch-like area and a triangular cubby-hole in the middle along the back wall of the tank with one equally sized whole on each side. As I laid back somewhat scrunched up dreadful thoughts of the speeding train suddenly crashing to the side and mangling me passed through my mind as loud, unnatural-sounding, metallic, banging, ripping and crashing noises fed my anxiety, but I eventually just kind of surrendered to the fact that I was on a speeding train and had absolutely no choice, alternative or control over the current situation I had put myself into. So forcing myself into a prayerful meditation I did eventually get a few hours of sleep though I did have to occasionally annoy Cajun with my dumb, white-boy anxiety, getting out a few times for fresh air. I think we finally arrived in Jackson, Mississippi around 2 A.M. I was happy to be there, it was freezing and I wanted to just get somewhere where I could bundle up, stretch out and sleep.

We hopped off the grainer and made our way through the long rocky train alley (area between two trains - is there a better term?) and out the side of the yard . A few orange-vested yard workers gazed at us with indecisive wonder as we hiked out and crossed the street. We walked up the road past the yard office a few blocks and discreetly trespassed on to the property of an old condemned and glass-shattered, - what seemed to be some sort of a - small, one story government building. It was an open, seemingly unused, cement floored house-like structure Cajun had considered squatting before. We checked it out and decided to sleep there for the rest of the morning. Cajun bundled up and passed out almost right away but I wanted a cigarette and a soda really bad so I scrounged up all my pennies and bummed a dime from Cajun which wasn't enough and walked up and down the long road next to the squat- first 20 minutes one direction with no luck on finding a gas station to bum a quarter and cig -then 20 minutes the other direction. I sensed danger in the condemned area I was in but carried myself like a native not allowing my slight paranoia to be sensed by any of the shady slow driving ghetto-sleds passing. I surprisingly found a 24-hour open gas station in the economically slow area. I hung around the parking lot to the overweight middle-aged white female cashier's suspicion and bummed some change and a Kool cigarette off a black guy. I got my soda and headed back to the squat where I bundled up into my jacket and sleeping bag on the cold concrete floor. After a good 5 hour rest, more or less, me and Cajun were up and ready to carry out the days plans.

The day before he mentioned a church where we could get food and possibly even some sort of shelter and/or other resources. Under the bridge the night before he had showed me some sort of little bulletin the church put out annually of which this one was written and dedicated to him ,"Cajun Red, A Real Live Hobo". We set out for the church feeding through the decrepit ghost town of a ghetto consisting of condemned and burned houses, and abandoned public and government buildings like this big high school with old chipped cement and metal spiral stairs connecting a street bridge. The whole place vibrated with a ghastly eeriness and melancholy. Here and there I would see an eccentric-looking, quite possibly schizophrenic, black person walking by them self but for the most part the place seemed dead.

One of the creepiest and most interesting looking abandoned structures I saw was the giant skyscraper of a gutted-out hotel there, "Captain" or "Admiral"-something "Hotel". - or something like that. It looked like it was probably built in the twenties, thirtys, or fortys when that area of downtown Jackson may have actually been somewhat economically prosperous. Up the street and around the corner of the hotel was an area where a railroad track once laid ages ago and to the side of it was a little sunken-in wooded area where Cajun had built a little hut into the side of the earth some time ago. He was bent on checking it out and seeing how it was doing so we took a little break. I regrettably walked down into the leafy area and almost immediately stepped in human feces of which I could tell by the look and odor, probably belonging to the home-bum which was now occupying the area to Cajun's and now my annoyance. His hut hadn't held up but we did find a stolen sports bag full of clothes and little knick nacks like combs and a sewing kit and some other little things. It had obviously belonged to a young, party-going, homosexual, black man telling by the pictures in his otherwise empty wallet. None of his clothes were worth keeping but the other knick-knacks were. Soon enough one of Cajun's friends walked by to his happy surprise - a strange and somewhat serious looking, pudgy, middle-aged, cigarette smoking white guy with a southern, feminine personality wearing obviously old, hand-me-down clothes - pink sweat pants and a t-shirt with some sort of mundane advertisement on it. He seemed to be very sane and intelligent yet disturbed by something and he was on his way to the church in somewhat of a hurry where he seemed to be desperately thankful to have some sort of service in exchange for some sort of food or other resources. He was a little annoyed with Cajun about something - some sort of bullshit Cajun had pulled last time they hung out or something like that but he seemed forgiving - not saying much - and we walked fast-paced with him to the church.

We got there early and I posted up on the steps and took off my damp shoes and socks in relief allowing them to breath being careful not to let any fecal matter spread on to anything else from the bottom of my shoe. We were still in downtown Jackson - a neighborhood area - and the church was old. It was obviously a popular spot amongst the homeless, mentally-ill and poverty-stricken, mostly black members of the area and it wasn't long after I arrived that the place was busy with all sorts of interesting specimens. Cajun, who had disappeared, showed back up and led me inside the church to meet a guy who he said would help me with shelter and food. I walked up a short flight of rickety wooden stairs to meet a friendly faced, middle-aged slightly-pudgy black man wearing an old cloak-like suit and an old black skullcap. His name was Don - a humble and friendly Christian with obviously some kind of rank or position or duty within this church though he was almost kind of bummy-looking. Yet seemingly graceful and intelligent he looked like an old-school, southern preacher or deacon or something, mentioning something biblical to me. He agreed to help me though didn't make it clear how and I was to meet him outside at 12:30 p.m. so I volunteered to do some service in the meantime.

This was during a phase in my life where I was resentful towards todays so-called Christianity and I found myself annoyed and angry as I proceeded to help out. It was a typical church scene. It was more of a middle-class white church which was apparent by the click of snobby teenage girls who seemed as if they were engaged in helping out for some reason other than love and devotion for Jesus Christ or compassion upon less fortunate people. I try to not be judgemental but the bad vibes coming from them were burning a hole in me - me being a creature they had never seen before (dirty tight plaid pants, work boots, scally cap, near-beard and an over-all funk about me)- and they reacted in a typical ugly way though subtle. I did stick out like a sore thumb and I also got weird vibes from the adults. I was expecting to eat along with the rest of the schizos and homebums but after acouple hours my aching belly still hadnt been fed as I helped do things here and there. Cajun and I were questioning Don about when we'd eat and finally after everyone was gone and things were being closed up he provided us with some hot dogs on bread. While finishing I found myself in an empty lunch hall and went outside to bum a smoke, talk to Cajun and meet Don. Cajun and I had talked earlier about meeting up the next day but somehow it didnt seem like it was going to happen. I bummed, rolled, and smoked a cigarette and sat down to wait for Don. Not being able to establish a firm and official time and place to meet the next day with Cajun and just figured "oh well I'll have to manage without him." Don showed up ready to go and we loaded my stuff into the black BMW - me still unsure as of exactly how this person was going to help me though I sensed I was getting hooked up with something nice like a hotel and cash or something. I said farewell to Cajun and bullshittingly was like " So lets meet here tommorow at 2:30" or something like that but it seemed as if we both knew our travels together were over as he spaced off and responded with something unclear while flirting with this seemingly mentally-unstable yet somewhat pretty middle-aged lady he was walking home.

As we pulled out into the street and started on our way to my unknown destination for the night Don seemed to be in his own head and not very vocal so I intiated a conversation inquiring as to where exactly he was taking me. I recall getting an unclear answer but was quickly pleasantly suprised by his inquiring if I drink "beer or whiskey?". I perked up quick and was like "beer". Then he asked me what brand and I was like "well, depends on how much you plan on drinking and spending - Guiness, Murphys, Budweiser, Pabst Blue Ribbon, etc, etc." - we settled with Icehouse and he pulled into a local liquor store parking lot and entered the store to buy booze. (Can you smell impure motives yet? I certainly did but was giving the benefit of the doubt - I wanted a drink!) He soon returned with several brown bags constisting of corn whiskey for him and several tallcans of Icehouse for me as well as acouple packs of cheap cigarettes.

On the way to our destination as of where I still wasn't exactly sure I inquired about his faith and his drinking. We soon were into a religious discussion and his religious sentiment was almost touching. He explained to me a very nice sounding doctrine of God/Jesus Christ giving salvation to those who ask for it and not taking it away. Although the way he explained with such sentiment and conviction, as we pulled into his home driveway- was quite moving- I wasnt buying it. I had been down the "Johnny Cash Christian" road myself and was raised with similiar sentiments of which I was now disillusioned - seeking answers now from true Eastern spiritual perspectives.

It was now clear that Don was letting me crash at his place. We entered into the old crickedy wooden-floored house bedecked with dusty antique paintings and an old piano. He showed me the movie/recreation room where I'd be sleeping and we'd be hanging and drinking for the night. I think he went somewhere for maybe half an hour at the most as I cracked open my tallys and proceeded into drunkeness. When he came back to take his seat, open his whiskey and chill for the evening it didnt take us too long to be fully engaged in a fired-up, alchohol-induced religious discussion - though keeping it friendly and not debating. For hours we ranted back and forth our religious speculations and life experiences pertaining to them. The discussion led to him popping in a passionate, romance movie about a couple of speculative philosophers/lovers. I was actually able to relate with and keep up with it though pretty drunk and liked it, it was a good movie. (NO IT WASNT FUCKING PORNO MOVIE!) All through the afternoon and into the evening as we drank and conversed passionately about life, spirituality, etc, Don was repeatedly rolling joints of schwag weed and puffing on them as well as the cheap cigarettes of which he had given me a pack to myself.

It was well into the evening and I think I was on my last tallcan when the moment of truth had arrived - the moment I had been dreading. We had agreed way earlier during the day that I'd be lent a towel and maybe a clean t-shirt and shorts or something to wear after a good shower which was well-needed. The fear in the back of my mind that Don had ulterior motives in helping me out was almost confirmed when I saw that the clean clothes he had given me consisted of only a t-shirt and whitey-tightys.Luckily I had carried my bag into the bathroom with me which had my semi-clean shorts in them. I still had hopes that Don was just a normal nice guy who wanted to help me out out of being a nice person and not a weirdo and had just been unthoughtful in selecting clean clothes.

When I arrived back into the room I noticed a breif strange look from Don but was still kind of in denial that he was a perve. As I finished my beer I tried keeping the conversation normal and innocent but Don inevitably was subtly taking it into uwanted territory. To make a long story short ol' Donny-boy ended up confessing that he wanted to give me oral sex sending waves of fear and shocks of adrenalin into my already palpitating, alchohol-surging heart (unwanted homo-encounter #2). I'm the kind of person who is more put into anxiety by others anxiety and I knew it would become unbearably weird and akward if I just coldly rejected Don-that and I was in some middle of nowhere country Mississippi neighborhood and still wanted my ride to a truck stop the next day (which Don had previously agreed to give me) and decided to be tactful and let Don down gently in hopes that I could steer the conversation back on to a different subject - playing as if I wasnt completely anxious and weirded-out and I must say I did a damn good job. I acted cool, normal and jovial as if I percieved his pass as something normal and even in a sense comforted his false-ego of which the details I don't remember - I was pretty drunk but I to this day am proud of myself at how I got myself out of that one and still got to sleep on the couch and get a ride the next day.

Eventually, Don went to bed (which of course was in a seperate room by the grace of God).That night as I slept in paranoia of Don charging into the room naked or something, shock waves of adrenalin kept pounding through my heart at every little bump and crick of the house but I was able to get a little rest. Most self-respecting, heterosexual young men would probably never allow such a situation to ever occur much less give an obvious weirdo the benefit of the doubt but I was/am not your average heterosexual young man and probably not as self-respecting as I should be. I guess most "dudes" woulda got the $#@! outta there A.S.A.P. as soon as things started smelling fishy (euh?). Call me a whore but I did what I had to do to get a meal, a shower and a ride outta Jackson even if it did mean putting up, to some degree with/kissing the ass, (not literally) of a plump, middle-aged black preacher wanting to engage in carnal activities with me. So I slept in fear for the rest of that morning and continued my friendly, jovial act the next morning which took quite an effort - my being ultra-sensitive to silent akwardness and anxiety.

So I got my ride to this big truck stop where I loitered around and hung out near the dumpster for a while where I made a cardboard sign using my trusty black sharpy. This would have been my first time hitch-hiking and I'm sure I made quite a spectacle of myself. There I was back in my funky, tight punk-rock plad pants, Clash shirt, boots, scally-cap, dirty (with train-funk) white hanging braces (suspenders) and threatingly punky tattoos now in an area of Mississippii, according to my observations trafficated largely with suburban, white, middle-class, Mississipians and boy was I getting some looks as I naively flew my sign walking up and down the interstate with my thumb out even on bridges where the 18-wheeler trucks were only inches away from blasting me into oblivion. This was the first time I ever experiencd some asshole trucker purposely swerving close to hitting me.

It soon began drizzling and after afew hours I gave up with fresh inspiration of getting back on a south-bound train pondering upon the tracks under one of the bridges below me. I climbed down to the tracks and once back on them felt great relief and joy as if I were a fish out of water up there on the miserable interstate. As I made my way down the tracks I was happy to see that I was close to the yard again observing a stopped train and pondering on directions. I left it be and continued back into the same part of downtown Jackson I had passed through the day before, past the big creepy old hotel and other abandoned structures observing all the solo wondering schizo homebums here and there. That part of Jackson reminds me of something out of like some Super-Nintendo role playing game where characters walk around aimlessly into walls and shit.

As I neared the train yard where workers were out, I switched lanes to the sidewalk along the parallell street - the same street Cajun and I had walked down on the way to the church from the squat where the abandoned school was. I don't remember the exact sequence of events but at some point I took shelter from the drizzle switching from an open boxcar to the spiral street bridge staircase which connected a path to the sidewalk, school and across the street. As I stood and observed the train yard from within the stairwell a serious-looking black schizo guy came up the stairway. It was eery the way he wasn't concerned with me there (my white, eccentric-looking ass in that neighborhood loitering around so questionably) passing me without acknowledging my casual "Whats up man" yet making eye-contact.

According to my observations the abandoned highschool was now a DIY looney-bin squat as I had observed other ghostly haunted looking characters dwelling about the area. After an afternoon and evening of sneaking around the Jackson, MS train yard where I had arrived in the eerie city, dodging yard workers, running back and forth studying the yard/trains, and switching from one boxcar to the next, I finally settled into a dry boxcar of a train I had concluded was heading south (although time consuming and exhausting, sneaking around train yards at night with the workers sometimes just obliviously walking right by you as your hiding in some dark corner, is pretty damn fun). Upon settling I changed into dry clothes and hung the wet ones to dry on some sort of bar thing along the side of the car wall. I decided to pass time waiting on the train to get going by snuggling into my cozy sleeping bag and going to sleep. After a couple of hours of drifting in and out of sleep the train started south with a bang. I was overcome with joy as I once again treaded my way through the swampy Mississippi-outback fog via freight-train. I soon bundled back into my sleeping bag and went back to sleep only to awake a few hours later with my cheek immersed in a puddle of drool (my personal experience is that you sleep HARD when your traveling hard out on the rails/road). The train had come to a stop and the air smelled funny. It had stopped a couple of times before so I just went back to sleep for afew more hours.

The next time I popped my head up from my slumber it was looking pretty blue outside. The sun was coming up. The train had been stopped there for a while and I wondered if I was in New Orleans. I packed all my stuff back up, hopped out and walked up and down several yards in a grassy area off the tracks. I was in the middle of nowhere country, right next to a huge smoky factory wich explained the odd smell. I walked around the yard and observed the trains. None of them seemed active and the engine had dropped my train off and gone elsewhere. It was bright and sunny by now and after wondering around the general area for afew hours, posting up here and there wondering my immediate fate I decided to walk down the road connecting the small train yard parking lot (I was right next to the office.) to get food.

It was kind of a long country road and there were some trailor homes here and there. I finally made it to an intersecting road where I posted up and stuck my thumb out. As a car would pass every few minutes and people looked at me like "What the $#@!?" I made eating gesters communicating that I needed food. After only maybe 20 minutes a mini-van with an extemely curious and observant older middle-aged couple passed very slowly as I gestered. As they passed me by I communicated disapointment with my body language and they immediatly turned around to come to my aid. The husband was driving and as they pulled up the kind hearted southern woman said something like "What do ya need ,honey?" I explained that I was "hitch hiking" and that I was out of food. They were so nice and asked me what I wanted and told me to wait there as they went to get me food. They returned about 10 or so minutes later with 2 medium/small brown bags full of food and drinks. More words were exchanged of which I don't exactly remember but they were both extremely sweet people- the kind that if I ever had the chance I'd break my back for returning the favor any day. They threw in 12 bucks, I think it was, right before departing.

I went back to the train yard back into my boxcar and chowed on the sausage biscuits, jelly, potato wedges, cookies, soft drinks, etc. that they had bought me. My belly was full and I wasn't planning on hanging around the stinking, hazy factory train yard all day so I decided to thoroughly study the yard from a distance and determine exactly how I was gonna get the hell outta there. I walked up several yards into a marshy area with a path curving through it and found a sitting spot where I was half hidden though I wasn't trying to look shady and suspicious which is why I kind of just casually walked out of the yard past the office into the area most definetly being noticed by the yard workers. I was sitting there for a little while when a yard worker drove up in a pick-up truck.

He was a friendly middle-aged Mississippian who knew what I was doing and just wanted to check me out and judge my character. He saw that I was friendly and was friendly back and informed me that there would be a shift change at 2:30 PM and that my train would be coming through or getting built or something, then. I think he gave me a few bucks and he most definently gave me a bunch of little bottles of water. He told me they dont mind hobos but the last one had them a little concerned because he seemed like he were hiding something as if an escaped convict or something.

Things were looking up and I had several hours till the crew changed so I explored the area a bit where there was a creek and a bridge. After an hour more or less, I came back to the yard and settled in to a boxcar which was wide open on both sides where I layed out all my half-damp stuff out of my bag to dry in the sun. Both sides of the car were strapped with reflective buckle straps on which I hung my damp clothes on making myself quite at home. The boxcar was full of styrofoam and cardboard of which I made a little napping spot. I popped a few tablets of a vitamin supplement I had found in the stolen duffle bag back in Jackson and reclined to nap when a yard worker pulled up to the side of the car on a 4-wheeler. He was another humble,friendly Missippian and gave me the same info the other guy did as well as some more little bottles of water. After maybe a 15 minute conversation he left and I layed back down to nap and scratched an itch on the side of my arm.

As I layed there trying to drift off I had another itch. It was kind of a burny itch and I figured maybe I had gotten a little sunburn. Before I knew it almost my whole body was red and inflammed with a burning itch -now more of a burning. I became panicky and attributed the inflammation to either sunburn, some sort of parasite I had picked up while exploring,or some sort of chemical exposure from being around the trains and factory smog. I nearly started hyperventilating when I suddenly remembered that the supplement I had taken was niacin wich causes inflammation and flushing/burning of the skin. I was relieved and was now able to enjoy the healthy burning sensation (its actually kinda nice) and drowsiness caused by the niacin and continued with my nap.

I ended up spending the whole damn day around the desolate train yard. I had talked to yet another friendly yard worker of the second shift crew who's information was a bit different. He told me which train to get on which would be leaving around 9 PM and agreed to help me get on the right one when the time came. Finally it did and I once again found a boxcar open on one side. Cajun had warned me about boxcar doors sliding shut from shaky train rides. He supposedly had heard about a Mexican guy who was found dead in a closed boxcar which had been impossible to open from the inside so I asked the yard worker about it and he told me that all you have to do is wedge a railroad spike into the door.

After settling in to the boxcar he rode up and voluntarily attempted to hammer a spike into the the bottom track the door slides through. For some reason it wasnt working so he helped me prop it with some wood. I knew it was probably unecessary but I figured "why not?" - be safe. After all that was a pretty scary thought - getting trapped and dying in a hot boxcar. The worker made it clear that he did not help me or so much as even know that I was trespassing on the train as he could have lost his job for such a thing. I agreed and he sent me on my way with abunch of little bags of cream cookies, crackers and more of those mini-water bottles. I was grateful at the southern hospitatlity of the yard workers to say the least.

Once again I was hauling through the swampy Missisippii outback on a free ride as joy tickled me within, standing there at a small distance from the open door shouting all kinds of nonsense into the desolate countryside like a mad man. I switched from laying down trying to sleep to gazing out into the swiftly passing scenery off and on for a several miles until the train stopped at the place I assumed was where the last yard worker had told me to get off and catch another train of which the instructions I was about as unclear about as I am now.

I got off into the nearly pitch black darkness seemingly in the middle of nowhere completly unsure and indecisive as of which direction was which, and where to go. I checked the stopped train I hoped was mine but it was an unrideable coal train. I walked up and down the tracks of the creepy desolate area relieved to see houses up across the small hill where the street was. I explored the area for maybe an hour - my knife at hand, slightly paranoid and on guard due to the sound of a seemingly fair-sized animal in the dark woods bordering the tracks. Eventually I said "eh fuck it" and walked into the dead-quite small town. I sensed drizzle and decided to find a dry resting place checking out a closed-down gas station and roofed church area. Though I was lucky I didnt get arrested, I settled for some damp, cushioned lawn-chairs in the private garden of a small apartment building with a cloth roof over-hanging the porch. It seemed to be right as I layed down to sleep that it officially began drizzling and I was agitated by little drops of water hitting me here and there under the semi-sheltering cloth roof.

Morning eventually came and I had transfered myself to the wooden bench in front of the apartment complex where I decided I was gonna beg up enough money to take the passenger train (of which there was a stop for right down the street) to the next town south. According to my observations of the place and the people I began to see here and there, mainly joggers, it was apparent that I was in an upper, upper-middle class area. The vibe of the place and people made me hesitant and timid about spanging (spare-changing) and the few people I asked and explained my situation to obviously had their minds closed with not an ounce of compassion for my sorry, stranded-ass.

I walked around a little bit and soon found myself with a very much "fuck this evil-ass place" type attitude. I swear I glanced into a window and saw some well-to-do sweater wearing scumbag counting money as he glanced my way with an evil pig-ish sour look at the sight of me. I sensed the whole place was kind of telling me "What are you doing here? Your not helping us make money. Get out!!!" I walked back and sat down on the wooden bench again trying to get someones attention to explain myself and hopefully bum some cash or ride or something when the cops pulled up. Two black cops got out and told me to come there and then "stop". I was actually happy to see them, maybe they'd escort me out of this hell-hole. They questioned me; I said I hitchhiked into town, explained myself, asked where the closest truck stop was and if I could get a ride there. They refused but told me how to get there - a 7 mile walk - and told me to leave the town immediately.

I gladly got on my way treading through some older suburban neighborhoods where I, as always -stuck out like a sore thumb in my big army bag and punk hobo gear as I walked by school children and soccer moms waiting on the school bus. I finally made it to the more trashy part of town where I felt comfortable. I used the bathroom of a gas station (transformed it into a toxic waste dump) and then hung out outside of it and pondered on what to do; "Should I hang around here and try to bum a ride/money or should I continue the long walk to the truck stop." I continued to the truckstop which was the ideal hitch-hiking chill spot. I scored some dry cardboard from the dumpster behind it and made a sign with my sharpy that read "SOUTH/NEW ORLEANS" with a little sketched hitch-hiker thumb, bought a drink and a snack from inside and reclined beside the building where the trucks pulled in and out.

It was warm and sunny and I napped there with the sign propped up on my chest. After several hours of truckers walking by -some friendly, some not, as I politely asked for a ride south, a young, skinny guy out of the blue popped up and was like "Yeah Ill give you a ride, just hold on let me go pay for my gas." I was thrilled, especially since he seemed like a normal young dude rather than an iffy old weird one. He came out of the store and I introduced myself as we walked to his semi-truck. He was a thirty year old guy driving a Wal-Mart truck for a living to support his wife and kids back home. The cab of his truck was so nice and clean and air-conditioned and the ride into New Orleans was pleasant as we conversed. It was maybe a three hour drive more or less and soon enough we were coming into New Orleans over the amazing residental swamplands and into the inner-city.

We agreed that he would halft to drop me off abruptly once into the trafficy city and I'm not sure but I think he too gave me some cash. I nearly wanted to stay in the comfortable truck amongst comfortable, normal and safe company but my time had come and I bailed out at a red light into the black, Cajun ghetto-ish area of the city. I walked up the busy, trafficy road and eventually asked a homeless guy where the closest shelter was. It wasnt too far and I immediately set out to find it with the general directions he told me which required my white, funky-looking ass to cut through the black, Cajun, residential neighborhood ghetto.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no stranger to hoods but keep in mind, I am white and look like some kind of eccentric skinhead. I carried myself through the beautiful historic ghetto as if I was a native (though white) trying to be in a mentality/give off the vibes as if I were a drug dealer or something. But its not like I was scared; I had been traveling here and there and putting myself into iffy situations for years and stayed in crack-addict homeless shelters years before while still a teen and it seems through all my journeys I've been protected by a higher power of which I was confident of as I prayerfully and meditatively walked my white-ass through the Cajun hood.

The weeping trees and historic, shotgun and plantation houses insured that this hood had history of which you could even tell by the wild looking natives. They didn't seem like your average thugs. I walked by a group of Cajun boys my age who were chilling on their porch, smoking weed and listening to rap music. They were an interesting looking bunch,one with wild puffed out hair, lanky body structure, gold chains and natural cat-like eyes who tried to sell me drugs. I think I was only interested in psychadelics, seeking only "spiritual experiences", and agreed to call the cell number he gave me about some "X" though I wasn't actually going to as I sensed the familiar feeling of trying to be ripped off. At the end of the neighborhood and up the street was the shelter amongst the amazing looking plantation houses on big long stilts.

The shelter seemed to have my name written all over it covered from head to toe with a wall painting with all kinds of down-trodden looking characters including a punk rocker and I think Mexican Catholic images of Jesus Christ, etc. The images communicated that this was a place of refuge for people who had had their ass kicked by the world and were seeking salvation from it all. The entrance ways were occupied by a few bums and crackheads here and there and I was told to come back at a certain time by one of the clerk/guard guys for a meal and bed. So I made a compulsive decision out of boredom and went to the closest convenient store and bought several 16 oz. cans of beer and sat on the sidewalk to drink.

Usually I dont drink in such situations, liking to have a clear head when in a new city when and where thinking skills are required to survive but it must thave been something in the atmosphere of New Orleans that had me not able to wait to get drunk. As I drank I conversed with a little Cajun black lady who was high on crack but suprisingly had an intelligent, youthful, cool and charming personality. She inquired my situation and communicated NOLA southern hospitatilty not trying to get anything off me or anything. Eventually I went back into the shelter and sat down for the large jailhouse style Bible class which I wasnt too into but was required for the meal and night's stay. The girl from outside plopped down next to me with her friend who was a pudgy white guy around my age and she introduced me to him. After the class we lined up for grub in the large cafeteria and I found a random sitting spot at one of the long tables. The grub was like jailfood but it was free and hot but I still dont think I was able to finish all of it having a full belly from the beer and not hungry for some reason. One white guy sitting across from me introduced himself. He was a seemingly sane and nice down trodden alchoholic type named Bill and he introduced me to his friend who was also a poor traveler - a friendly faced white guy with a kind personality though strange. Apparently they had just met hours previously and Bill offered to show me a place to stay outside of the shelter, of which he disapproved of, and a beer. I considered it, as well as the resources available if I were to stay, which were explained to me by his friend. After the meal I made a last minute decision to go off with Bill, drink another beer and try the spot he offered me and himself squated.

We walked to the gas station and he bought us some tallcans and we sat on the side of it and drank as he told me about his life. He was a nice, normal guy an ex-mechanic - now living on the streets drinking his life away in misery after his wife and kids had been abruptly killed in a car accident. Apparently he had given up on life and now lived every day for his next drink. We made our way to his sleeping spot which was in a cool old part of N.O. on the side of the rich downtown area opposite of the French Quarter where an abandoned building/courtyard connected to a temp. labor pool and remained suprisingly almost unoccupied. It was a gated-in little grassy courtyard with a closet big enough for one person where he slept. We chilled there and cracked open more beer and drank. His friend showed up -a nice, sober, intelligent and funny blond haired guy in his mid-thirties- and chilled for a little while. After he left, Bill drifted off in his closet and I bundled up in my sleeping bag outside of it and passed out.

I woke up the next morning again with a river of drool absorbed into the shirt I used as a pillow. Once again I slept harder than I had in a while when living back home. My first two weeks in NOLA were rough. I didn't know about the French Quarter and was hanging around the shelter by the courtyard squat having only the association of the most down-trodden of characters at the very bottom of society, which I was used to- but where were all the ones my age who slept on the street with style???? The main problem with me then and now is that I'm too shy and am often not comfortable around people who would seem to be more like my peers which keeps me being a loner. The atmosphere was having a negative effect on me. I was 20 years old, slightly intelligent, slightly good looking and literally living like an animal every day just trying to find free food and primitive shelter. I always had voices going on in my head while falling asleep at night or when napping which may be attributed to subtle bodies (ghosts, spirits, whatever you wanna call them) and they were getting worse. I had to get into a brighter situation.

One of my favorite things to do during those first weeks was hitting up the NOLA public library where I was researching spirituality/religion, entheogens, psychology, etc. I was drawn to a book on spiritual psychology called "ARE YOU BECOMING ENLIGHTENED OR LOSING YOUR MIND?" It covered and summarized nearly every subject I was interested in and was glued to it though it was kind of corporate and yuppy. One day while reading in the library I saw a tall, kind of nerdy-looking punk in a Crass shirt outside. The first punk I saw in N.O. Something told me to approach him and as he hopped on his old DIY bike I jetted out of the library to catch him. I did right before he was about to ride off and was like, "Hey excuse me" which was reciprocated with a friendly smile. He was your average anarchist/trainhopping/squatter-type and was glad to inform me on what part of town to be in. I think his name may have been Matt. We walked to a Kinkos where he made me a copy of his crew change guide (an underground booklet circulated by and for trainhoppers -my first encounter with one). He told me about the French Quarter and the "wall feeding" and the anarchist bike shop/bookstore, etc., etc. I got his contact info and we split ways. I was grateful and happy about transferring to the French Quarter which I began immediately by going to the courtyard squat and packing up my stuff. I made my way down __________*(I forgot the names of the main streets in New Orleans, do you know? - not Bourbon) street through all the bar hopping and gift shopping tourists and stopped at a disturbed looking homeless man to confirm directions.

He was sitting on a ledge begging for change. He had a look of sheer desperation in his eyes and an unhappy looking smile fixed on his face which looked more like a side effect from a lifetime of intense misery and madness. At the time I was all about uplifting the down trodden with a serious case of aversion to favoring "well-to-dos." The man was apparently bewildered at how I stopped and chatted with him as a friend. He didn't believe me that I was currently homeless and it was as if he hadn't had someone simply be nice to him in a long time. I gave him a little bit of my change and he shared his general info with me. I made a friend of which whom would be a common run-in for the next couple of months.

Soon enough I was in the historic French Quarter where I was immediately stopped and intrigued by a group of kids my age playing some sort of Eastern European influenced folk music on all sorts of nifty uncommon instruments and had attracted a nice sized crowd. After the set I sat and chatted with one as I bummed, rolled and smoked a cig. He was a local highschool kid just sitting in, dressed as if straight out of the 1933 depression. I met a few more of them and it was apparent that most of them were all way more seasoned in this particular field of life than I. I was introduced to the whole gang of which I would have liked to be friends with. I was a bit thrown off by the arrogance of one of them(one reason I usually don't hang out with alot of people my age of similiar interests) but thankfully picked up quickly that there were plenty of kids way more experienced in this aspect of life than I and it kept me from falsely assuming that what I was doing was anything that hadn't been done a million times before by hundreds of others.

I moved along and soon came across one wild looking specimen with a pit-bull who immediately reminded me of a friend back home. He was sitting on some steps spanging and I squatted next to him and asked where to get drugs or something like that. His name was "Scratch" - a notorious thirty something year old junky with jailhouse/punk rock-style web tats spreading off from each eye. He was friendly so I went and got a beer and sat with him to chat as he spanged. He was an ex-"Hate-Edge Crew" skinhead from NYC of which he claimed to be the founder of, now apparently more of a humbled junky with wild messed up hair. After he spared enough change he led me to an old half burned squat in a close-by hood. I chilled with him as he smoked a crack-rock inside of it but most definently wasn't planning on sleeping their by myself, it was too dark, smelly and gave me bad vibes. I think he also shot a hit of dope (heroin). I hid my backpack at the squat which was advised to me and we went back to the French Quarter and split ways. Later on I went and got it back and set off to find somewhere else to sleep.

I walked around and talked to a few more kids here and there and was directed to "the wall" - a big wall bordering the train yard/strip of wharehouses on a long piece of goverment property seperating a neighborhood from the tourist infested French Quarter where different charity groups, mainly Christians, fed and gave out other street survival needs such as dry socks, clothes, toiletries, etc. I saw Matt ,or whatever his name was, the guy who had helped enlighten me on where to be in the city. I sat to eat with him and some other traveling kids. I finally made my way out of the hopeless bum scene and was happy to be now in a more positive enviroment amongst fellow youth who where "sleeping in the gutter yet gazing at the stars" - or whatever that term is.. But of course street youth is certainly far from beig made up 100% of positive-minded,young idealists. There definently always is a dark side of life of which I experienced both of. For the next two months I slept in the crustiest most decrepid of junky-inhabited squats, warehouses, youth shelters, parks and hostels when I could afford one.

I had landed a dishwashing job at a little cafe and for the most part was switching back and forth from a dog-park to a hostel both on opposite sides of town, depending on the weather. During these two months my daily activities consisted of hanging out on the street drinking and bumming change and free food, working, reading, and frequenting the local youth drop-in center which was a god-send to say the least, where I was well-liked by the staff. One day I was walking to the bank to cash my paycheck when I was approached by a saffron-robed monk of who I was curiously delighted to speak with. I had just recently been reading about the power of chanting mantras in my book on spiritual psycholgy and had been trying different names of "God" (of who or what I was questioning exactly what is) in my mind as well as praying within myself as recently advised by a raging drunk I sometimes sat and drank/talked with about the subject of God and spirituality. This seemed like more than a coincidence as the monk explained to me a little bit about the ancient philosophy of "Krsna Conciousness" and the Hare Krsna mantra. I bought the book "Science of Self Realization" off of him- an amazing-looking small, thick, brownish colored book with fancy gold colored letters and a potent picture of the author on the front - an Indian swami seemingly in a slight trance named "A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada." The book almost seemed to radiate with transcendental energy. I slipped it into a dry empty pocket of my army bag and proceeded into the bank donating the monk $5 for the book as we departed.

Another favorite past time of mine in NOLA, sadly, was buying powdered heroin off Scratch who was now a common aquantence. Every paycheck I'd spend at least twenty bucks on dope and would carefully snort it in small quantities at a time. New Orleans is also the place where I for once and one time only tried smoking crack. Where I was from we shunned crack and it was usually just old burn outs or the most degraded of fucked up ghetto thugs (or my more unfortunate best friends) who smoked it but I came to fully realize in New Orleans that its also common amongst todays hedonisic/nihilistic, punk, druggy, street youth. It wasn't the influence of any of my young NOLA wastoid peers that led me to try crack but rather a girl at work my age who wanted to know if I could get coke. I agreed to help her after work one day and figured that I was about due for my, what had become - a yearly one night stand with cocaine.

We dwelled around the French Quarter that night after plenty of beers and tried copping it off afew of my local drug addict aquantences with no success. It didnt seem like it was going to happen that night and she eventually had to leave. She left leaving me feeling unsatisfied as I now was anxious to do some coke. Right as she left, an aquantence of who I had helped when he first arrived into the city from jail, invited me to hang out with him for the night. I was overwhelmed with joy when he flashed an exageratingly fat wad of cash in my face. I was like "What the !!!???" He had been squating in some house that was only half vacant or something like that and had found like I think it was $1500 bucks but it may have been way more - I don't remember exactly. Immediatly we were off to Burboun Street for strippers, drinks and drugs. To make a long story short by the end of the night I found myself in a hotel room full of weirdo street addicts and I was high as anything on crack having been given my own glass smoking piece and personal stash for the night. For some reason,at some point I decided I'd had enough and laid down to come down. As the high subsided subtly pulling me into a hellish state of withdraw I nearly became panicky as I came to the realization of how nightmarish of a situation I was in. Every shady degenerate around me in the hotel room was completely wacked out and I think there was some kind of weird homo-sex going on with acouple of them and I nearly became panicky as my heart began racing. I suddenly craved normality, sanity, stability and comfort. I had been chanting the Hare Krsna mantra in my head ever since buying the book on Self Realization and trusted it:Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare- so I layed there and chanted this in my mind for maybe acouple hours as the sun rose. It immediatly put me at peace and carried me through the hellish withdraw and anxiety of the crack comedown and its side effects. As soon as my heart slowed to about 90 beats a minute I left and made my long walk back into the French Quarter as we had somehow ended up way across town.

New Orleans is by far the most violent place I've lived. Literally every other day I'd see some kid around my age with a broken tooth or black eye from having been jumped or assaulted by a friend. Alot of the GG Allen-style, wastoid gutter punks I hung out with were notorious for randomly assaulting each other for fun as well as anyone else they'd randomly decide to jump on. One day I was drinking in the dog park with this gutter-punk tramp and his girlfriend -the one I had been camping out in. They had let me stay at their squat a month earlier. I got along well with them and we often helped each other with drinks as we were doing that day, all day. Eventually night came and I was looking forward to going to an oi show with a female friend of mine. I was still with them drinking 40s and now the Jagermaister of some other gutter punks who showed up. There was now me and about 8 other gutter punks in the park drinking and boy was I shitfaced. I was laying on the ground and at one point the gutter punk who I had been drinking 40s with's dog came up and sniffed at my face. I playfully grappled it in no way rougher than how a fellow dog would in play. Nearly simultaneously some idiot exclaimed "Dude he just hit your dog!" and within a second there were fists flying at me. It finally happened to me - I got jumped on. My glasses were blown off my face. Luckily I had at the most 4 out of 8 guys wailing on me but I got out of it quick. I don't remember exactly what I ranted but I spent a little time finding my glasses which were now split in two pieces and got the fuck out of there.

Days later I saw the same crew of gutter punks and they seemed to have no problem with me though I was of course a bit sore. The girl who I was going go to the show with that night consoled my anger a bit as she had witnessed the whole thing and insured me of my innocence as that was the main thing I was fucked up about- being accused of hurting the dog. After about two months of the NOLA street life (of which unwanted homo-encounter #3 and #4 occured) it was time for me to move on. The book I had aquired from the Hare Krsna monk had replaced my spiritual psychology book and I had been glued to it in the most peculiar way -it being the first book I actually read all the way through in probably years. From the little bit of cash saved from my bus-boy job I decided to take a Greyhound bus into Florida. I still had an infatuation with FL as it was the state I was born (Jacksonville). I wanted to see the ocean and my practicly long lost father's side of my family of which the means of transportation I didn't care as long as I could get to my destinations as soon as possible. The other thing that attracted me to FL was the list of Hare Krsna temples in the back of the Self Realization book.

So I took a Greyhound into the closest coastal city as I could afford with the hopes of seeing a train yard/train heading deeper into the state. My first landing was Pensacola which for some naeive reason I figured would be a cool place; it wasnt. As soon as I arrived I was disappointed. The bus stop was off some far out road amongst a flat desolate area where there were nothing but fast food restaurants, hotels and newly-built suburbs- slightly far from any coastal inner city area. I took a city bus heading more towards the downtown area where I ended up waiting at a small bus station for hours. Finally I got on the bus heading towards the beach area and I was exited about chilling on the beach as it had been years since I'd seen a coast. As the half empty bus which consisted of afew young army dudes my age and an unhappy looking newly wed couple approached the boardwalk area I was even more disappointed. This was not the kind of place I was wanting to be. Everything looked plastic and the place was nothing but a consumerist's tourist trap for middle-class suburban rednecks and lame preppy, southern college kids to live out their spring break fantasies. I practicly had to be forced off the bus as it made its last stop and I reluctantly got out now feeling more like a fish out of water than ever in my good old plad pants, boots and other shabby gear.

I walked through the family oriented tourist traps recieving all kinds of looks as I walked past college kids playing volleyball and familys and children. I couldn't really find a comfortable place on the beach where I didn't feel like I was being observed. My acoustic guitar strung around my shoulder made me look even more like a noticeable character amongst the bland enviroment. (Oh yeah I had bought a guitar in NOLA which I had been playing on the street for change). It didn't take me too long to just turn my ass back around and get back to the bus stop. It wasnt even naturally all that great of a beach anyway. I decided I'd go back to the Greyhound station and somehow beg enough money to get to Tallahassee -the next closest city where there was a Hare Krsna temple. Although the Pensacola Greyhound station was where I had to sell my guitar it was a relieving and somewhat fun experience. I was buying cigarettes off this one dude and chatting with him. He was a normal piss poor redneckish type dude and was intrigued by my appearance and lifestyle and soon I was the center of attention amongst a small group of Florida rednecks inquiring about how I hop the trains and survive and "what-not." They were impressed by my amueter guitar playing of which I think I played and sang acouple early Skrewdriver songs. Despite my popularity and beautiful hundred dollar guitar I was only able to get $30 bucks for it which was all I needed to get to Tallahassee. I arrived in Tallahassee early next morning around 1 or 2 A.M. The place had a good familiar vibe -me being born in Jacksonville, Florida (pine trees,etc.) and the bus station was downtown. I immediately started my long walk exploring the city hoping to find the ideal spot to chill for the night. I passed by one homeless girl who seemed under 30 wich gave me hope that Tallahassee was a good place for me to be. By mid-day the next day I concluded that actually Tallahassee was not a place I wanted to be for more than acouple days. Although its a beautiful old town with some cool spots like the art park area where the train goes real slow - I wasn't into nor had much of a way for getting mixed in with anyone there in the college town. At the time I had a prejudice against college kids though I did find the campus quite useful for free internet access where I looked up the address of the Hare Krsna temple.

Out of sheer deperation I did something that went against my foolish, piss-poor-independent pride and called my good ol' momma and begged for her to wire me a hundred bucks so I could get the hell on my way a.s.a.p. which she did. After picking up the cash and loitering the college campus a bit I made the slightly long walk to the little Hare Krsna preaching center. This was my first time to visit a temple and I arrived right on time for the evening program. Upon arrival I was recieved warmly by acouple of Indian guys at the little house temple and was immediatly encouraged to take off my shoes and have a seat inside of which I did. Not too long after I sat down the rest of the evenings congregational members which consisted of an Indian mother with her children, a white American mother with her young son, a middle-aged white American male devotee, the Indian guys who greeted me and a college student my age, were seated and the deities were opened (deities are the statues of Krsna that are worshipped and understood by Krsna devotees to be not just statues or dolls but Krsna himself manifested). The Hare Krsna mantra was sung in call and response and afterwards a devotee read/spoke on the Bhagavad-Gita- an ancient spiritual text. After that some exquisite vegetarian food was heartily served. While eating, some of the people/devotees inquired as of my general story (who I was, what brought me to the temple, etc.) I explained my self and life situation and how I had recieved Science of Self Realization in New Orleans. Everyone was so nice and accepting; I felt flattered that the devotees were so genuinely interested in me. I guess this was the real beginning of an extremely positive change in my life/karma but I still had plenty of things to experience before going all the way with spiritual life in any kind of way...TO BE CONTINUED
We sell all kinds of other stuff in our Etsy store!


Nov 5, 2006
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Omaha, NE
Really enjoyed reading your story. I appreciate how you not only described the things that happened around you, the people you but how you felt about them. I also almost always give people the "benefit of the doubt" upon encountering them, and unfortunately sometimes in our culture that can get you into sketchy situations. I believe that everyone is trying to do their best at any given moment, and we should do our best to uplift and help each other out. But I suppose sometimes folks are doing their best to figure out how they can take advantage of you to better their own situation.

Your story painted pictures in my mind and I found myself often reading along thinking, "shit, that's really similar to how I would have reacted to that situation". And several times I started skipping ahead just to see what would happen in the next paragraph! You've got a good knack for writing...can't wait to read Part 2

Tamah Go Das

I closed my account
I have lots of gay friends ,I just dont like old weirdos and perverts who try to impose themself on straight guys.If you think theres something wrong with someone for that than its because your a sick fuck.

Educate yourself before you speak genuise,traditional(non-racist) skinheads wore all colored braces/laces including white and red.


I closed my account
now i'm not defending any of the folks you ran into, but comments such as "homo-sex(shutter)" and writing off people as having "homo-intentions" make you come off as a piece of shit. queer kids get enough shit from every aspect of the social order, they certainly don't need anymore from you.

(most) trad skins refuse to take a stance against racism and that puts them in the same category as fence-walkers. turning their backs to it does NOT make them anti-racist by any means.

Tamah Go Das

I closed my account
I apologize if my choice of words/mentality is offense to you or anyone.As far as I understand the word "homo" is short for the word "homosexual" wich indicates a person who is attracted to someone of the same sex.And its in my opinion that when old men have intentions of having sex with me its a disgusting notion that makes me "shutter."If this classifies me as a piece if shit than well,ok you have a right to your opinion and I have a right to mine.

Skinheads were skinheads before the subculture broke into sects and terms like "fencewalker" came about so to call a trad skin a fencewalker doesnt make much since in my opinion.

Tamah Go Das

I closed my account
yeah dont you remember when I P.M.ed you silly? or was that you? I live in Tucson right now but I grew up in the historic (working class)district of Bartlett - I specify this because I absolutely very much do not like that town and the rightful assumptions made about ppl who come from there.

Clit Comander

I closed my account
dave said:
now i'm not defending any of the folks you ran into, but comments such as "homo-sex(shutter)" and writing off people as having "homo-intentions" make you come off as a piece of shit. queer kids get enough shit from every aspect of the social order, they certainly don't need anymore from you.

(most) trad skins refuse to take a stance against racism and that puts them in the same category as fence-walkers. turning their backs to it does NOT make them anti-racist by any means.

DON'T be a pc, the kid wrote the story and he can use what ever fucking words he wants to. i'm not being homophobic, and i may or may not agree with the terms he used, but he has the right to say them. just as much as anyone has the right to choose there own sexual orentation.


Aug 14, 2012
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Trenton, NJ
That was a well written and interesting piece (long posts, especially based on memory are not easy I know). While the complaints about your "language" probably come from those with diverse sexual orientations, or like me someone who understands many "street kids etc." are ON the street because they feel even remotely able to express themselves, it is something to think about and there is no need to worry about being PC. I didn't hear a peep about "stereotyping black "thugs" etc. The main thing I think this post can do (even without a part 2) is give younger, listless, lost people a unique account of YOUR experience of freight hopping, squatting, etc. The MAIN thing I think ANYONE should get from this (and I will probably be pounced by those who are shady, at least at times) is to NOT TRUST ANYTHING BUT YOUR GUT when traveling. On multiple occasions you were quite honest about choosing the path that felt unsafe (one of the only ways we learn in life, especially as a tramp). Quite frankly I think your buddy did you a favor gifting you that blade (I don't leave the house without one, and I am not an agressive person by any means, although years of overseas completive Thai boxing helps). I also think the final POINT of the story HERE at least is that you had (have) a void and while the latter was a great adventure only YOU can fill that void. I have RARELY met a "sane street kid" who was truly happy. It's a transitory existence hence the shorts "friendships", massive amounts of drug and alcohol abuse and toxic co-dependent relationships. I am not going to go into a complete list of my bone fides, but I have been there, done time, live with addiction, and have seen it living around the world. Thumbing your nose at the world and thinking you are an "anarchist" (hmm what's Mayday..?), is fine when you are 20 but it sounds like your trip helped you grow up. And I mean in the way that would allow you to look into the face of anyone with pure confidence based on some experience. Do I still listen to chocking victim once in a blue moon? Sure. Do I walk down St. Marks and ask myself "what the fuck happened", Trash being the only reminder of all the crazy times I spent at Coney Island High or whatever sure once in awhile, but I think constant growth is important and it sounds like you are/were onto that. A great example is say the band The Casualties. I KNOW THEM ALL VERY WELL. Punk Rock Love (probably by far their best song) was written by a guy named Hank Fisher (they all met ad Old Bridge HS in NJ. Soon after HS he decided a punk rock band wasn't going to cut it, worked and saved his way tro Nepal and started to travel the world. I am pretty sure he now has a very happy life, a wife and children (not that the latter is a happy life for everyone).


BTW: I really felt a wave of empathy when you described some fucking wasted scum fuck not only hitting you but breaking your glasses because some other scum fuck instigated a bullshit situation.

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