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  1. #51
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    I have meet a wide variety of people at the hiker/biker sites on the Oregon and California pacific coast and started wondering myself where the line between a homeless (a.k.a bum) and a bicycle tourist/backpacker/adventurer is. Before I thought it was straight forward but now I can't tell anymore.

    I'm not sure if anyone ever labeled me as a homeless but finding a place to stay in Coos Bay, OR was interesting. I needed to catch a bus early in the morning and the state parks were to far away. All hotels were booked out and the RV park wouldn't allow any tents. The person at the RV park called the police to ask if it would be OK for me to stay in the city parks just like the bums do. Of course it wasn't. A priest gave me directions to the homeless shelter when I asked him where I could setup a tiny tent for the night. I wasn't ready to go to the shelter or sleep with the local homeless. I'm not sure how welcoming they would have been. Finally someone offered me to stay at an empty adjacent empty lot in the middle of a residential area which worked out fine.
    Last edited by cbike; 05-04-13 at 10:59 PM.
    One man's adventure is somebody else's boring life. These are my adventures: http://adventurelaus.blogspot.com/

  2. #52
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    We very carefully come up with whole explanatory paragraphs to avoid saying, "Yes, we're homeless and unemployed (and we're travelling the world)" because of the bad connotations those words have.
    Sure, self-identifying as "homeless and unemployed" will naturally cause people to think you're destitute and penniless and therefore probably freeloading or worse around the world. Still presumably you can say "we live in Australia" even if at that precise moment you don't actually have a specific address to call your own in Australia. And from what you've said in other threads about your career I'd imagine you could use a term like "on sabbatical" rather than "unemployed" - for all some will regard them as synonymous those are probably the ones who would just find some other reason to write you off anyway.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  3. #53
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
    and that is political correctness. for various reasons, the definitions of words, the terms we
    use, are managed. we get to the point where we can't tell the difference between a touring
    cyclist and a bum. you really see no difference between someone who sells/rents out their
    house for an extended vacation and an unemployed (oops, labor-underutilized) crack-head
    (oops, chemically dependent) vagrant (oops, 'homeless' person)?

    control the meanings of words, control the ideas conveyed by the words, control the way
    you think, control your voting habits.
    I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about here.

    I think the difference between someone who sells their house to go touring and someone who is forced out of their house by circumstance is pretty clear, and I really struggle to see anything in my posts to give even the slightest hint that I can't tell the two are worlds apart.

    It's still not clear what political correctness has to do with the difference between the two. If instead of "bum" you use a term more like "temporarily housing displaced individual" there's still a huge difference between someone on an extended cycling tour and someone living on the streets scavenging.

    It's even less clear what the way I think and my voting habits have to do with anything. If you actually knew anything about me at all you'd know just how comical it was to think that my voting habits would be affected by what terms someone else thinks I should use to describe any particular group of people.


    Although this whole side to the discussion does remind me of a Father Ted episode where he says "I'm not a fascist, I'm a priest. Fascists dress in black and tell people what to do whereas priests... more drink?"
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  4. #54
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    Sure, self-identifying as "homeless and unemployed" will naturally cause people to think you're destitute and penniless and therefore probably freeloading or worse around the world. Still presumably you can say "we live in Australia" even if at that precise moment you don't actually have a specific address to call your own in Australia. And from what you've said in other threads about your career I'd imagine you could use a term like "on sabbatical" rather than "unemployed" - for all some will regard them as synonymous those are probably the ones who would just find some other reason to write you off anyway.
    I just think that we need to get past this idea that "homeless" or "unemployed" is a bad thing. It isn't necessarily. There are a lot of people who are happily homeless by choice ... or perhaps that "happily homeless" sutuation is more common in Australia than it is in the US, esp. the southern US where the OP is from

    But as for our situation ... we'll be "homefree" and "between contracts" ... if it actually becomes necessary to label ourselves.

  5. #55
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I have absolutely no idea....
    apologies....point is, language is being subverted to the point where bicycle people
    on a touring thread have to write half a dozen paragraphs to explain simple words
    that just a few years ago had definite meanings.

  6. #56
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I just think that we need to get past this idea that "homeless" or "unemployed" is a bad thing. It isn't necessarily. There are a lot of people who are happily homeless by choice ... or perhaps that "happily homeless" sutuation is more common in Australia than it is in the US, esp. the southern US where the OP is from

    But as for our situation ... we'll be "homefree" and "between contracts" ... if it actually becomes necessary to label ourselves.
    I think the terms are just more far-reaching than most people first think, especially when so many people struggle to comprehend someone choosing not to live at a fixed address and choosing not to spend every waking hour serving someone else. Throw in the desire to not work all hours for a wage and pair it with a desire to be self-sufficient (i.e. not the kind of idle welfare-scrounger often wailed about by tabloids) and it seems most people really struggle to understand the desire.

    I personally don't understand going off on an extended tour without even a home to return to but that's only to say it's not something I'd personally do, not that I'd say it's inherently a bad idea for anyone.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  7. #57
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I personally don't understand going off on an extended tour without even a home to return to but that's only to say it's not something I'd personally do, not that I'd say it's inherently a bad idea for anyone.
    It's an adventure!!

  8. #58
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wbuttry View Post
    So when you see a homeless man don't turn your head away do something for them a few dollars for food or just set and listen to theyre story. It might

    help you see why they are homeless and might help u not fall in theyre position most people are one paycheck from loosing it all...
    While an admirable idea, the problem with that plan is there are far too many people trying to scam the system. If gave a few dollars to every "homeless" person I saw every day, I would soon be homeless myself.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

    Albert Einstein

  9. #59
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    I think the terms are just more far-reaching than most people first think, especially when so many people struggle to comprehend someone choosing not to live at a fixed address and choosing not to spend every waking hour serving someone else. Throw in the desire to not work all hours for a wage and pair it with a desire to be self-sufficient (i.e. not the kind of idle welfare-scrounger often wailed about by tabloids) and it seems most people really struggle to understand the desire.

    I personally don't understand going off on an extended tour without even a home to return to but that's only to say it's not something I'd personally do, not that I'd say it's inherently a bad idea for anyone.
    Cycling aside, there are a disproportionate number of people from Australia and New Zealand who come to Canada every year to work tourist industry. They work at ski resorts and other tourist destinations and apparently move from center to center. So as well as staying free at places where most other people pay outrageous amounts of money for room and board - they also get to use the facilities on their time off. OK - so the pay isn't unforgetable - apparently the experience is and is a bonefide means of seeing different countries.

    Then there are all those immigrant farm workers who get recruited from SA to harvest berries etc here every year. They leave home and family for monthes at a time for the chance to work temporarily and send money back hone - where there's no work.

    And stories I've heard from Chinese immigrants here indicate the idea of a fixed home and fixed employment isn't all that common around the world. No one can decide what cards you get delt in life - but you can decide how to play them. Some people simply have more imagination than others

  10. #60
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    Cycling aside, there are a disproportionate number of people from Australia and New Zealand who come to Canada every year to work tourist industry. They work at ski resorts and other tourist destinations and apparently move from center to center. So as well as staying free at places where most other people pay outrageous amounts of money for room and board - they also get to use the facilities on their time off. OK - so the pay isn't unforgetable - apparently the experience is and is a bonefide means of seeing different countries.

    Then there are all those immigrant farm workers who get recruited from SA to harvest berries etc here every year. They leave home and family for monthes at a time for the chance to work temporarily and send money back hone - where there's no work.

    And stories I've heard from Chinese immigrants here indicate the idea of a fixed home and fixed employment isn't all that common around the world. No one can decide what cards you get delt in life - but you can decide how to play them. Some people simply have more imagination than others
    +1

    In Canada and Australia contract work is becoming more common. In many cases you no longer get the old-fashioned "full-time permanent" position. Some companies are closing their HR departments and are, instead, using temp employment agencies. And it's not unusual to see ads for 6 month or 12 month contract positions (or occasionally even 3-month or 8-week contract positions).

    I haven't worked a "full-time permanent" position in almost a decade ... it's been all contract work. And that has suited me very nicely.

    Australia has a Working Holiday visa program where young people (under 30) can come to Australia to work and travel (they often travel the Harvest Trail). There's some discussion about that visa here now ... it used to be 12 months, but may have been extended to 2 years, or at least they're discussing that idea. Young people come from Europe mainly, although a few will come from Canada or the US.

    Of course there is the grey nomad population here as well.

    And in addition to that, there's a newly developing nomadic workforce here. Our area was badly damaged in the bushfires in 2009. Recovery workers flooded the area, and came and went as necessary. For a couple years, several of my coworkers were "weekday bachelors" ... they had a home in a location some distance away, and then drove into this area on Monday, stayed here during the week (in hotels, caravan parks, or small rental units), and drove home on Friday.

    When the recovery process eased up here, many of the recovery workers moved on to the floods in another part of Victoria and up in Queensland. They'll just keep moving around Australia from one disaster to another.

    It's a whole new world.

    And I can't imagine having a "full-time, permanent" position, and living in one place, for the rest of my life.

  11. #61
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    It all goes along with Americans having tunnelvision about cycling. It's ok to dress up like an acrobat and ride around in a big circle once a week with friends, but choosing a bike for transportation is looked upon as an act of desperation.
    I've heard many comments around town while shopping or commuting, but while touring I only heard one.
    A woman came out of a grocery store, looked at my Hunqapillar fully loaded for a weekend trip and said: "Don't tell me, you lost your home in the mortgage crisis!" I couldn't believe that assumption, but I satisfied her with a story. I told that, I hadn't, but I guess I was, technically, homeless. I told her I had been a broker for AIG before Elliot Spitzer went on his hunting spree, had gotten out before the ax fell, and sold my house in Scarsdale just in time. Of course my wife thought I was crazy and left me for a doctor down the street. Fortunately she didn't know about the off-shore accounts so I had plenty of money but was just wandering the earth in search of a new beginning. The look on her face made it all worthwhile.
    I couldn't just tell her I taking a 4 day weekend.

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  12. #62
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irwin7638 View Post
    It all goes along with Americans having tunnelvision about cycling. It's ok to dress up like an acrobat and ride around in a big circle once a week with friends, but choosing a bike for transportation is looked upon as an act of desperation.
    I've heard many comments around town while shopping or commuting, but while touring I only heard one.
    A woman came out of a grocery store, looked at my Hunqapillar fully loaded for a weekend trip and said: "Don't tell me, you lost your home in the mortgage crisis!" I couldn't believe that assumption, but I satisfied her with a story. I told that, I hadn't, but I guess I was, technically, homeless. I told her I had been a broker for AIG before Elliot Spitzer went on his hunting spree, had gotten out before the ax fell, and sold my house in Scarsdale just in time. Of course my wife thought I was crazy and left me for a doctor down the street. Fortunately she didn't know about the off-shore accounts so I had plenty of money but was just wandering the earth in search of a new beginning. The look on her face made it all worthwhile.
    I couldn't just tell her I taking a 4 day weekend.

    Marc



    I have "created" stories like that in the past, because I got tired of being asked the same ignorant questions over and over again.

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  13. #63
    Senior Member jowilson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    1. "He sold his home voluntarily" - You know that how? From what I remember of the story he told me it did not sound like that was the case.
    2. I'd be willing to bet that most homeless folks had a job at one time and many get some kind of monthly check.
    3. He didn't buy me a few meals. We each bought the other a meal.


    I think he is a nice guy and I enjoyed chatting with him, but I will stick with homeless as a definition of his current lifestyle. I probably would not have used that term if I met him in the first year or even two of his trip. I do not apply that term to be judgmental, but think it is accurate. When someone lives in a tent for 10 years with a sign saying he is walking across the US, but essentially is no longer really making progress toward the coast any more, the homeless label starts to fit. I got the impression that he didn't want to get to the coast because he really didn't have any place to go home to. He stopped just short of admitting that unprompted. Add in the fact that he had apparently not seen a dentist for the 10 years he has been on the roads.

    To be fair he probably wouldn't use that label, so maybe I shouldn't either. That said I think most folks
    who had actually met him probably would call him homeless.

    Would you call him homeless to his face?

    On a separate note, I think there is a psychological side to this. When someone calls you homeless, you probably think something to the effect of "What the hell do you know about me?" and it also implies that you don't have a family living in a well-maintained, quality home--a wife, kids, pets, or what have you-- which is what I think really hits home for most of you on this forum. Honestly, I must apologize for what I said in previous posts because "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" about what other people think about me. I just hope that it stays locked up in their minuscule, hopeless minds for eternity, and never gets spoken.

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  14. #64
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    I've never had a problem while on tour. My wife and I usually tour together, and I think that makes a difference in people's perceptions.

    However, I'm sure that when I have my work clothes on, and ride down to the post office or ride down to the grocery store the people that do not know me probably wonder about my status. I've also had the reverse happen. When my wife and I do our weekly grocery shopping we usually have our rear panniers on the bikes and I pull a trailer. We've had people ask us if we were on a trip.

    I also think there is a major difference between being truly homeless, i.e., not currently having a stable place to stay or the means to rent or buy one; and having the ability to rent your "home" most nights while on a tour regardless of the duration.
    Last edited by Doug64; 05-05-13 at 01:17 PM.

  15. #65
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    I think there's a clear distinction between a "traveler" and the usual "transient"that people mistake us for, in that the traveler moves on because he or she wants to, but the transient only moves on when forced to do so.

  16. #66
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevepusser View Post
    I think there's a clear distinction between a "traveler" and the usual "transient"that people mistake us for, in that the traveler moves on because he or she wants to, but the transient only moves on when forced to do so.
    And yet, there again are words which have different meanings in different cultures.

    I've mentioned the harvest trail here in Australia, and the people (students, grey nomads, etc.) who follow the harvest trail, and make a decent living doing so are called transient workers / transient labour. "Transient" doesn't have the negative connotation it seem to have in America.

    We've had the occasional absolutely hillarious looks of horror when we've said something along the lines of, "We're considering spending a few years following the harvest trail as transient workers".

  17. #67
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    I just tell them I'm Jesus.

  18. #68
    Senior Member jowilson's Avatar
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    ^^
    That might give them a worse impression about you, but I've found that if you say anything that could be perceived as serious with a slight smirk, they'll just know you're joking and start laughing. If they start laughing without you smirking, that's when they think you're crazy.
    The sun'll come out tomorrow.

  19. #69
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    Interesting comments-- glad I started this thread. Like I said, I wasn't looking for advice on how to handle the situations (I do shave, shower and stay friendly) just making observations mostly about how people DONT do a good job of observing the available clues in assuming I am homeless. And wondering what their mental processes are to arrive at the conclusion.

    Interesting that a lot of discussion centered around defining/defending/homelessness. Most of the situations in which I have observed that I was assumed homeless were in fact judgement-free. No insult or insinuations, just mistaken assumptions. Maybe that is something we all do based on responses here.

    Also I see many readers seem irritated with "those people who seem to judge a bunch of people in the homeless class." Of course if you do this, you are judging them aren't you?

  20. #70
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blindhog View Post
    Also I see many readers seem irritated with "those people who seem to judge a bunch of people in the homeless class." Of course if you do this, you are judging them aren't you?
    This kind of discussion is better suited to the P&R forum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    That is the one that bugs me!
    that is too funny !

    when i was touring TransAm in 2010, i had alot of people ask if i was riding to support a CAUSE. i said "Abslolutely. i'm riding CAUSE i'm on vacation and i want to".

    i remember when taking a cold water primitive 'shower' at a local city park in rural missouri, i found myself laughing at the realization that this is how homeless folks live; cleaning up and eating where and how they can. i love the simplicity of bike touring !

  22. #72
    Senior Member wsgts's Avatar
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    Blindhog,

    I have not yet done a tour, but when commuting, I can tell you for sure that everyone in this part of the country seem to think you either can't afford a car or don't have a license from DUI or other interaction with the law. There are only a few adults that ride bikes around my native Panama City, FL, but what can you expect in the "Redneck Rivera"?

    T
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    For several years I worked in a place that required a suit and tie. I'd stop at stores over lunch or on the way home to do some shopping, and once or twice a year, people would mistake me for the store manager and start asking questions or complain about something.

    One lady wouldn't believe me or didn't get what "I don't work here" meant, so I ended up sending her to isle 23 in search of what she was looking for, paid for my stuff, and left.

    Depending on what I'm doing on a given day I can go from looking homeless to cleaning up rather nicely thank you.
    Last edited by InOmaha; 05-06-13 at 02:51 PM.

  24. #74
    Senior Member mtnbud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InOmaha View Post
    For several years I worked in a place that required a suit and tie.
    Try riding while wearing black slacks with a white dress shirt and black tie and see what happens.

    Cycle touring in the PNW is pretty common. I've never ever seen this response, but I have had people yell obscenities like "Get a car!" More often than not people respond positively. I've had many good conversations and have been invited to Bar-B-Ques and the like. People are much more likely to talk to me if I'm on my bike loaded with gear.

    My own personal prejudice might be triggered if I saw someone ridding in blue jeans and not wearing a helmet. Nothing to do with homelessness, but more helmet-lessness.

    I know a person who is homeless by choice and does well. He contracts work by verbal agreements and keeps in contact by phone or e-mail. I could be homeless just as easily.
    Last edited by mtnbud; 05-06-13 at 04:54 PM.
    “If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out”

  25. #75
    Senior Member shipwreck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsgts View Post
    Blindhog,

    I have not yet done a tour, but when commuting, I can tell you for sure that everyone in this part of the country seem to think you either can't afford a car or don't have a license from DUI or other interaction with the law.

    T
    That's so true. I ride everywhere at home, and as I am self employed it can be at any time of the day. Every once in a while when I pull up in my vehicle after something to big for me to handle on a trailer someone will say, "oh, good, you got your license back".
    I wonder what they think when they see me on a bike again a few days later.

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