On his first night homeless, Temple Living editor Steve Wood learned to hustle.
Steve Wood Posted: 3/13/07
Before witnessing a slit throat and the behind-the-scheme tactics of the city hustlers that night, I sat on a New Jersey Transit bus, thumbing through unread pages of Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” while staring waywardly at the suburban moving landscape. The 403 evening bus was headed to Philadelphia. On Saturday, March 3, I was headed for a rough week of homelessness.
Once in the city, I boarded the first available Broad Street Line for Allegheny Avenue, the location of my studio apartment.
Once there, I emptied the pockets of my eighth-grade JNCO jeans: a cell phone, my wallet and plenty of lint. By 6 p.m. I had blown kisses to my bed, fridge, deodorant and sheltered living, backtracking down the stairs to a gentle night breeze. Nine hours later, I had blown a quarter of the week’s $10 allotment. In decomposing running shoes, I kicked whirling debris from North Philadelphia to the glistening surface of Center City.
Beneath the rococo buildings and bright lights, however, laid signs of a rotting town: proof that more than just the sewers were fuming. Homeless people are swept over to the streets’ margins. Some are vocal, but many lay diffident.
I was to join them in their fight for spring break, an experience that left me chronically hungry for things other than food.