Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Living in a Car

Watching all the news about the collapse of so many investment banks, I wonder how the middle-class and the barely surviving are coping with the sudden loss of their jobs and probably also their homes. With the mortgage due, rising debt, a depressed job market and no more paychecks to look forward to, how do they cope? Do they all pack up their belongings and live in their cars like this woman did? Her Wanderingscribe blog is a powerful introspective work about how she survived being homeless, jobless and living in her car.

Seems simple: get a job so that I can save enough to rent somewhere to live. Completely stupid that I can't do that. Would be hard to hold down a job when you haven't got an address, but not impossible. Because I could carry on living in car, parking in hospital carpark in mornings and using the showers there to get washed and changed in, until I can save enough to get place of my own. But because haven't worked for almost two years now, no-one will give me a job. Not even the type of job you don't need qualifications for. Suppose there must be too many people wanting those. Have been signed up to three email job search sites since September. Everything from vacancies for basic filing and reception work, to retail, to qualified solicitor comes through my inbox everyday. Fire CV off for all the ones I might have reasonable chance at these days. Try to be focussed and realistic, but always end up sending lots off. Some days feel like I could do anything, other days need to run back and hide in my car - days when I'm totally lost without the comfort of trees. Apply for mostly receptionist or call centre jobs, which would be perfect while I adjust back into things and try to get back on my feet. Have never even got to the interview stage yet though, not with a single one.
Can't go to job centre etc. because they don't know that I am homeless. The same with the Housing Advice people. They won't even switch on their computers or talk to me until I tell them my address. But I obviously can't do that, because they can't know that I don't have one. If they find out, I risk loosing my money, and then it's all over. Because to get benefit money in the first place I am using my old address. I know that is wrong, but if they knew I was living nowhere they would stop it. Immediately. Then I would be left to the wolves — or have to go in and register as 'of no fixed abode' and go queue up with all the other homeless people every week, or get nothing — which, at the moment, feels about the same thing to me. I just can't bring myself to do it. Whenever I think that I might have to, that I've got to the stage where I can't do it on my own anymore and can't put off getting help, and will have to swallow the rest of my pride and go and register as of 'no fixed abode' I just panic. Feels like one trauma too many.
Wandering Scribe
Peanut Butter and Photographs
16 February 2006

Wes Grueninger over at Motive Magazine has an excellent 12-point tip for living in one's car. And Romana S, in Australia, seems to have taken to living in her car as a choice. Over at her blog, she gives valuable tips for people who want to, or have to, live in their cars. I agree with her about the impracticability of maintaining a gym membership to have access to showers and toilets. Gym membership is money that is better spent towards food and gas. However, a lot of the blogs and forum posts made by car dwellers in America make this point. I suppose that's their former life talking, when they still had access to gyms and Starbucks and wall sockets to charge their mobiles and laptops with.

No comments: