Tim's Blog

A Day in the Life


I wake up cold and miserable.  The spring air is fresh and WET.  My sleeping bag is covered with dew which means I am going to have to find some place to hang it up today so it can dry out.  Don’t dry it out and tonight will really be miserable.  I crawl out and everything around me is wet so I get wet getting out of the bag.  I hate wet underwear.  It just starts the day off miserably until it drys out.  That’ll take hours.


      I look around and hear cars on the street.  I’m late!  I curse at myself and throw everything together into my luggage (actually a trash bag) and head off for the Salvation Army.  It’ll be too late to take a shower.  Seems like I oversleep more and more lately.  Hate those showers anyway.  No privacy at all.  People walking in and out of the bathroom all the time.  I’d think they could’ve at least separated them from the main bathrooom when they built the place.  What the devil.  They don’t have to use them.  Why should they care?  We’re just a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings, right?  SORRY!  Just feeling a little sorry for myself!  I KNOW THEY DO CARE  It’s just that sometimes it’s hard not to get bitter about things.


      I arrive there just in time to grab a bowl of cereal and a stale pastry.  The coffee’s already been put away for the day.  Guess I’ll just have to do without.  I sit down to eat my cereal and grab a newspaper laying nearby only to realize the front section is gone.  Who cares?  It’s always the same old thing anyway.  Someone gets killed.  Another politician is caught with his hand out for another bribe.  Never anything good.  They want bad news, boy could I tell them a few things.  I throw the paper back, eat my cereal and head out for the day.  Sitting around the “Sally” (Salvation Army) playing cards all morning isn’t going to get me anywhere.


      I spend the morning at JFS (Job & Family Services) looking through the job offerings.  Never seems to be much for guys like me who are just looking for a regular job.  If I got a college education there’s lots more, but who can afford that these days?  And when I do go to complete an application it’s always the same old answer.  “Sorry, we’re not hiring right now.  Yet there’s a sign in the window saying “Hiring”.


      Guess my clothes do look a little worse for the wear.  My beard is scraggly.  I do need a shower.  But where do I get the money for the laundromat, some shaving cream, and a shower.  I have to have a job to get the money so I can get cleaned up.  It’s a vicious circle.


      I guess the word’s out on the street I used to do drugs and drink like a fish.  I kicked the habit two years ago.  I attend AA at least three times a week and I DON’T drink anymore.  How long do you have to live with your past before today, or tomorrow, can pass it by.  I’m ready for a job.  GIVE ME A CHANCE!


      Back to the Sally for lunch.  Being heavy on the carbs doesn’t help my diabetes, but it’s the only meal in town.  And it’s hot!


      In the afternoon I either go to the library to read the newspaper and catch a few winks or else I spend the afternoon checking out sites to sleep tonight.  You have to be careful or the police will roust you out at night.  You don’t say anything.  Just do as they say or they’ll arrest you.  Under the Main Street bridge, or the woods, seems to be the only place you can go that has any safety too it, sort of.  The police may still roust you out from under the bridge, but you can sleep most of the night in the woods.  The only thing you have to fear there is some of the other heavy-handed homeless who come around and steal everything they can get their hands on.  If they want your sleeping bag they’ll dump you out of it and take off.  There’s one of you, three or four of them.  What are you to do?  Get cold and wet, that’s what you do!


      As I drift off to sleep I think of all the stupid things people have said to me on the street.  Most people don’t even see me.  They just walk by and look the other way.  Many of those few who do will have some mean comment to say to which I say nothing, but think volumes. 


“Why don’t you get off your butt and go get a job? 

I want a job.  Help me find one and I’ll hold onto it for dear life.


“Take a shower.  You stink?”

If only I could . . . If only I could.


            “Can’t you wash those clothes, they’re miserable!”

I would if I could.  That takes money and I have none.  Should I beg?  I don’t think so!


“Get a life!” (A teenager)

I have a life!  Maybe it doesn’t meet your standards, but then I can’t be so choosy.  I do the best I can with what I have.  What do you do to help support yourself?


“You’re not supposed to be here, are you?”

I can be anywhere I want.  I have the same rights you do.  Those same rights I fought for in Iraq to make sure you were safe back here.  You could at least give me some respect.  That bullet hole through my hip was no picnic.  So bug off yourself?


“Get out of my way.  Who do you think you are anyway?”

I think I’m a man who has struggled long and hard to meet my demons and overcome them.  I think I’m the person who lives in the woods down the block from your home and yet you’ve never noticed me walking by your house time and again.  I think I’m someone who lost everything of value in my life, including my family, who now yearns to find them and hold them close to me once more.  I think I’m a human being, the same as you, who deserves the same respect as you, and who wishes you would see me, not my clothes, not the dirt, not the smell, but would see me, the person within struggling to get out once more if only someone, one person, would give me the chance.


      I hate being homeless!!!  The days stretch on forever.  You live at the mercy of the weather all the time.  People assume you’re just plain lazy.  I’m not.  I have a CPA.  I held down a responsible job.  I want to work again.  Will the cycle ever be broken?  Am I condemned forever?


      I drop off to sleep and the crude and mean-spirited comments are stilled.  If only I could keep them at bay in the daylight as well.  If only . . . if only!



              Timothy P.  Mummaw

  (Homeless January 30, 2008 to October 31, 2009)


DISCLAIMER: The comments of those quoted in this series reflect their own opinions and beliefs and may or may not reflect those of the Continuum of Care or its member agencies.

Meet Tim Mummaw

Timothy P. Mummaw is a retired pastor from the United Church of Christ, the Chairperson for the Homeless Advisory Council and a member of the Lake County Continuum of Care.  Tim was homeless from January 30, 2008 through October 31, 2009.  Watch a video where Tim talks about his experience with homelessness. 
Tim will be writing a series of articles addressing the issues related to homelessness.  His insight provides us all with a view into the reality faced by Lake County's homeless individuals and families.
You can click on the links below to view other articles written by Tim. 

Homeless Is Not Spelled L-A-Z-Y