Friday, 31 January 2014

How Does a Homeless Person Prepare Food?

I always clean a public barbecue after use. Do you?

The best inventions ever are the butane burner and long life milk. A homeless gal can't survive without them! Nothing beats setting up my butane burner making my coffee in beautiful locations. I've seen maybe $600 worth of takeaway coffees walk past me in the last week. Who spends $3 or more on coffee?

Queensland just doesn't have the services for the homeless of other states. There are some, but not that many. Food vans are scarce. Soup kitchens are in Brisbane mainly.

Last week, the Salvos gave me a weird box of food, all kinds of different things. All muddled up. It is hard to make a meal from that when you don't have a kitchen. The Uniting Church gave me potatoes and onions that I couldn't cook. I was out of butane gas. 

I always wanted to do a how to survive cookbook. Oh dear Kath - yet another idea. One day. I could give it to charities for people doing it tough.

It's pretty much coffee for breakfast and one decent meal a day if I have the money. Here are the kinds of meals I have had over the last couple of weeks:

  • Sausages for tea 

  • Tinned beans - just ain't the same. Bon Appetite! 

  • Just had a can of chile and mango tuna. Nice but hot. With rice crackers. It was yummy. 
  • 85 cents for beans a potato and carrot. Found a can of chunky tuna in bag. Voila! 
  • Real food. Yum.

  • Feast. Dreams do come true. Two chops and fresh veggies in foil on the barbecue. Spuds, carrot and green beans. Water in the foil to steam the veggies.

  • My toaster. Yummy fried bread. I miss butter. I use canola instead because it doesn't go off. Only rarely do I have fat.


It is not safe sleeping in a car. 

Creepy men hang around and just stare at me. Maybe they are taken aback by my beauty! Once they start hanging around I have to leave where I have parked the car for the night -  there goes my ensuite (public toilet). More petrol.

One night near Storey Bridge I woke up hearing noises. It was about 2am. Three guys were walking around my car. I dug deeper into my quilt. It was winter. I heard them say "There's an alarm." They must have seen the red flash. I was dying to go to the toilet. They were discussing how to break in. I was scared. So I took a risk and stuck my head up. They ran. I left. I didn't go back there, I drove around in circles. My sanctuary had gone again. That was the night before I went to the Brisbane Homeless Hub. I told the staff at the Hub the story. "Oh well", they said. "You have to find somewhere safer."

Another night, I had just started to doze off. There were kids in the carpark on skateboards. It was after midnight. Where were their parents? They spotted me, so I reckon they were doing it on purpose. I had to to move again. It feels like working night shift, yet don't get daytime bed. I cry a lot. I get covered in bites. I have nowhere else to go.

Geeezzz. I just had to move. Two cars pulled up full of young guys. They parked either side of me. The lesson is always park at last parking bay. They all got out looking in my car. I sat up and put the key in the ignition and bolted. I didn’t care if they blocked me, I would have run into them. I gotta get out of this district. Word's getting around that homeless people are around here. I think I'm ok where I am now. I will stay awake and see how I go. So far ok. I have got their regos. That's why it is expensive living in your car, you use petrol because you are always moving.

I should have stayed up north where there are free, safe camping grounds but I need to be here in or near Brisbane for operations. In Brisbane it's hard being homeless in a car. Parking meters start early. I use lot of petrol moving. That's why I left and moved up to the Sunshine Coast. Yes, there are food vans are in Brisbane, but I need to put my safety first.

Work Ethic

I hate not working. 

I have worked my whole life except while in hospital or recovering from accidents or operations. No, I don't have a degree. I don't have education beyond grade 10. I do have tickets for various mine construction work. But that's right - I cant wear steel cap boots anymore. My injuries have seen to that. Do you know it costs roughly $1500 per year to keep up those tickets?

I was quite an entrepreneur throughout my life. When mobile phones first came out I would teach the elderly how to use them. I volunteered through the library. A few elderly people would invite me to their home for a cup of tea and scones and throw me a few dollars. It felt good to help.

Everyone that is capable of it should work. It will give them drive and motivation. They should review DSP people too.

Being a homelessness, 52 year old, single, white woman in Australia sucks. There are no answers. I give up. Now what? I don't want to cause problems. I am just surviving. 

Well, the belt buckle just went up another notch. You don't see too many fat homeless people. Looks like I better get used to my future.

Ambitions, Hopes and Dreams - Age Fifteen

When I was at school I had the dreams and ambitions that lots of girls have: Hairdresser, air hostess, secretary. Unfortunately getting jobs like that is hard to do when you are homeless.

I applied for an apprenticeship as a hairdresser with Stefans. I was approved. I found out the pay was $70 per week. You are supposed to be living with your parents still at that age and $70 was really supposed to be used for public transport, make up and so on. I couldn't do it. I was supporting myself. So that dream went out the window.

To be an air-hostess you had to know French for some stupid reason. I decided against it. I couldn't study anything - I could barely keep a roof over my head. I wish I did do something now of course. Instead I studied the road of life.

Anyway … a secretary …hmmm. I loved typing fast and accurate. I still do – these posts are typed up on a phone!

I was proficient at shorthand and loved business principles and maths subjects at school. I loved adding up. We didn't have calculators. It was all done in your head and using pen and paper. My business principles and maths teachers were very fond of me and suggested accountancy. After looking at costs and lifestyle I decided I was not in the position to go ahead with accountancy. I am glad now. I would have been stuck in an office with numbers all day. I probably would have lost my liking for them.

So, I managed to get a part time job working as real estate secretary. This was after the meatworks and before I left to go hitching.

Well. The licensee and the top saleswoman of the office were having an affair. They were both married. I caught them in the kitchen at it.

So I was fifteen and a half and already sacked from two jobs - neither of them my fault. All I wanted to do was survive, work and keep busy.

Playing pool was my only outlet. The pub I played pool at the owner knew that I was a kind of street kid even though I had never lived on the street. I had always had a bed in hostels or a share flat. So he told everyone I was his niece and taught me how to pour a beer. In those days it was allowed if you were family. I loved it. Hearing all the jokes and stories from the drunken men, but they all respected me because I was the boss's niece!

Lock out time at the hostel was 10pm. So the publican would get a local taxi driver to pick me up just before 10pm and take me home. He didn't pay me but gave me a nice dinner each night - plus I got tips! Everyone would leave their change.

Job in the Outback

I applied for live-in job at an outback pub. 

I borrowed money for petrol and headed out of the city to explore the country. I got to town after a 14-hour drive. The trip used lots of petrol on borrowed money. I got there and they wanted me to start straight away. I was so tired.

They treated me like a dog. Even the accommodation was a dog box. I left. I drove back to the coast. When I got to the Bruce Highway… which way should I go …left or right? I decided 'left'. I went north for winter. 

It still got too cold in the car. I rang the homeless line - nothing. I rang Cairns shelters and they said they could help. I used all my cheque in petrol. When I got to Cairns they said "No sorry, nothing available. Geeeeezzzz!

At least the free camping areas were available up north so I could survive and be safe. Just grey nomads and travellers around. I could stretch out in the car. I didn't have to hide.

The fun didn't last. t needed operations to fix myself and hopefully work again so I came back down south. 

Race week was in in Airlie Beach. The town my second home when I worked in the mines and I lived there in my early twenties. I felt safe. There were always lots of people around,  so knew I could park. I managed to get work for backpackers accommodation, but only for a couple of weeks. So I lived in the car.

If you're Australian in Airlie it is no good, you gotta be an international backpacker. It sucks. Backpackers get cash or work and pay tax and then get the amount they paid in tax back when the return home. I paid one third of my money in tax when I worked in the mines.

Eventually council police moved me on. They gave me a break and allowed me to stay for the longest time, but eventually it was time to go. I tried share accommodation but without work I couldnt get a room. Simple.

I could hardly walk. My foot and ankle were so sore. By this stage I was having cortisone but not working anymore. I needed an operation again.