by The Lone Spanger
I have a lot of sleeping spots around Austin. Many of them are downtown, where it is more convenient to sleep during the cold weather because you can access emergency services easier. Every night when I go to sleep, I hear violence in the streets. People sporadically fist fighting, arguing loudly, or taking it too far while high on drugs. I think most of it is delirium and ignorance. The instigators have been awake for so long they don’t even realize they are being menacing.
More often, I’ve noticed that substance abusers misjudge how intoxicated they are and don’t understand it takes time, sometimes weeks, for some drugs to clear your body. Even marijuana affects your sleep patterns by not allowing you to get REM sleep. How do sleepy people act? Grouchy, moody, and often irrational.
There are a lot more sober homeless people and street kids than you might think. You just have to ask around and eventually you’ll get shown who they are. Some people lie about their sobriety too, to gain your trust and respect, often to take advantage of you later. You’ll be able to figure out who those people are real quick, just as well as you can tell who is a sincerely sober person who is just poor or down on their luck.
The fighting I see and hear on the street is brutal. Like nothing in the movies or on television. The best way to describe it is like two cavemen diffing into a freshly caught piece of meat at the same time. The adrenaline is still high from the kill, so if so much as one’s hand brushes the other or they try to tear the same choice piece off the bone, a fight will ensue. It’s very sporadic and unnerving.
When those fights break out in front of me I walk away from them because I’m a peaceful person and don’t like watching people get hurt. When I’m awoken from sleep by a nearby fight though there’s nothing I can do but wait for it to end and thank God it wasn’t me. If you’re homeless or ever are in the unfortunate situation where you become homeless, the best way to avoid street violence is:
- Don’t do drugs, drink, or smoke. That means all drugs because people will beat you up for your medications and Advil if they are desperate enough.
- Sleep alone where you aren’t likely to be seen, but close enough to a 24 hour business where you can get help if you need it.
- Keep your gear on you at all times. That way if a fight breaks out where you normally sleep, you don’t have to worry about your basic necessities getting caught up in the bustle, stolen, or taken in for evidence if the police show up. Also, you’ll want to switch spots at least for the night because the dueling parties might be back and you don’t want to “walk into the mouth of the snake”
- Trust your instincts. If there’s a guy, for example, yelling at you incoherently from down the alleyway who starts following you closely, try to lose him bu going to a main street, business, or finding a group of friends.
- Never let someone you don’t trust see your personal possessions. Desperate people will steal the most seemingly superficial things and, if they want it bad enough, they might fight you for it.
- Just walk away. This kind of ties in with trusting your instincts. If you accidentally walk up on something where you feel a fight might break out, walking away is the easiest and smartest option.
- Stay positive. Being a good influence will make good people gravitate to you and make it much less likely for you to get involved in dangerous activities leading to fights.
I hope this helps anyone who needs it. To everyone: stay safe!
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