Moving Day, AKA My 28 Day Cycle

I’ve never had a girlfriend who didn’t have a complaint every 28 days, and it’s warranted. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go through what ladies must endure, Tampax Pearl commercials notwithstanding. But I do have my own personal windmill to slay, and like a period, it’s every 28 days, without (for now) exception.

CA law states that if you occupy a hotel/motel room for more than 30 days you have established “residency”. Residency is a more vile word to an innkeeper than motherfucker, whore, and maybe even the n-word, for residency means if someone (translation: transient, homeless person etc.) doesn’t pay a bill, you can’t simply lock them out of the room, clear out their belongings, and rent to someone else. What must be done instead is the eviction process. In CA evictions can be long and costly because it involves serving of legal notices, appearances in court, and other money/time-consuming tasks. CA is very good at protecting the rights of renters. With the homeless? Meh, not so much.

So the motels here don’t let it get to the 30-day mark. What most have established is a 28-day maximum rental period, and then you must check out for at least 2 days. You would think they could just assign you another room and go on business as usual, but that’s not the case. As I write this I’ll give you two guesses what day I’m on. Yup…it’s my windmill, my period. And no tampon inserted into any orifice will ease my discomfort. I’m sure as fuck not going down a water slide or playing tennis anytime soon.

At first glance it might seem that a homeless person switching motels isn’t such a big deal. That’s an error in judgment I assure you. I have a semi-working car and it IS a big deal. I estimate in order to move anywhere will take 3 trips with the Camry loaded to resemble when the Clampetts “moved to Beverly”. Each trip takes about 45 minutes, so in total I’m losing roughly 2 hours of time I could be delivering a meatball sub to a college student who is preparing for a date with diabetes, so we have a financial cost. Secondly is what I call limbo logistics. Motels require a noon (my motel is 11 AM) checkout time, and usually have a 3 PM check-in time. That’s a minimum 3-hour window where I feel true despair. In the predawn hours I looked skyward and and could see the stars aligning to form a middle finger; the constellation Fuckis-You Major. I’m left in the situation of practically begging the new motel manager to allow an extremely early check-in. Often I tell him/her I’m just dumping belongings into the room so I can go to work. Sometimes it works, sometimes I need to plead to my former landlord for a couple of extra hours. Despite being a perfect patron of his fine lodging the previous 28 days, you’d be surprised how quickly the nice Indian man who offered you coffee every morning can turn into the angry Indian man insisting you pay for the additional 2 hours needed to complete your homeless migration. NOTE: Previous to my homeless status I did not know people with brown skin could turn red via a fit of anger but indeed they can. It’s definitely a balancing act which requires negotiating skills, or at least a “pathetic look” of desperation (I’ve mastered the pathetic look). It is humbling to say the least.

The most important reason Moving Day is stressful is because I’ve already chosen the best available option for putting my head down. All things went into consideration: Price, safety, cleanliness, location. And now I must go with the second best option, and believe me when I say it can be a cliff-like falloff (see this post). If I’m unlucky enough to have the 28th day occur on a Friday or Saturday, I’m as challenged (translation: fucked) as can be. The surrounding motel rates will have gone up, and there’s almost zero chance of a late check-out at the old place, or an early check-in at the new. I’ve encountered it once and felt as helpless as a lady tied to railroad tracks, and her hero is behind a rock with the runs, train whistle in the distance.

So here I am…Day 28, and I just now noticed it started to rain. For astronomy buffs, it’s Fuckis-You Minor, and looks very similar to Fuckis-You Major, only smaller of course. Rain is my enemy because it means 50% of my body will be soaked due to the 2″ gap on the Camry’s non-functioning power window. Think of being lowered sideways into a half-filled deprivation tank and you’ll have a pretty good idea. To avoid looking to the world like I pissed myself I’ll need to wear black (worst Johnny Cash impersonation ever btw). I’ve but 3 hours left, and haven’t chosen my new abode yet. I’ve narrowed it down to the Resilient Roach Inn (safer) or the Syringe Suites (cheaper). It’s getting ugly folks.

NOTE #2: Whenever I feel just a tad bit of sorry for myself I’m reminded there are people MUCH worse off. Two days ago I left my room around 10 AM to delivery some tasty meals and saw an old woman of maybe 65 on the curb. I surmised she’d been kicked out of the motel, though I’d never seen her before She had about 20 shopping bags and was sitting on a painter’s bucket, looking lost, alone, and terrified. It was 50 degrees. I was hoping she was merely waiting for a ride, but I knew better. When I returned home that evening at 9 PM she was still sitting in the exact same place, but now the temperature was in the 40’s. I called the local police and explained she was a senior and at least needed a welfare check. It rained pretty hard all night, and when I left the motel yesterday, there was a plastic tarp over her things, with the exception of a large lump slumped over next to an Albertsons bag…my God she was under there. Until that vision is out of my mind I can’t feel self-pity. LA, you have a goddamn homeless problem!

Somewhere under that tarp, is a gray-haired old woman who had been there over 24 hours.

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