Phase II: Homeless in Tampa

Hello again friends. It’s been about a week since my last post, and a busy week at that. However, for now I can only share what I did last night and this morning.

After waking up early Sunday morning to stuff my stuff randomly into six boxes, two backpacks, and one duffel I left my scant possessions hidden in the garage of my former apartment and walked the five miles to Ybor without any socks on. To ease the pain of all the new blisters I acquired, I bought a sweet pair of socks and proceeded to drink beer for the rest of the day. That night I got a ride back to my friend’s house and slept for about six hours to wake up, hungover, hungry, and without my black work shoes. I had to be at work this morning at 11, so it was imperative that I locate either my old shoes or a new pair. Have I mentioned that I do not own a car? My plan was to bus it back to my old apartment and search the duffel for signs of the shoes. Also for my damn phone charger. I did not efficiently pack.

I got on the 9 bus around 9am and quickly made friends with a partially toothless, jovial black man. He laughed and told me that I looked like I’d had a terribly fun night but was now in rough shape. He kept talking, and laughing, while I kept murmuring responses and staring out the window at the ghetto we were riding through. Finally he starts talking to another man behind me, and I thought I was done interacting with him, until he looks back over at me and says:

“Man, I’d like to know what you’re thinkin’ right now.”

I look back at him and he adds, “Penny for your thoughts.”

“Well,” I say, “I’m thinking about how I need to find some black shoes for work in two hours.”

“What size?”

“I don’t know,” I respond warily. “Ten or ten and a half?”

“I have a pair of black shoes ontop of my tv back at the house.”


“Yeah man. Somebody blessed me with them, I’m gonna bless you with them.”

Maybe it was his joviality, maybe it was my strong desire not to ride a bus all across Tampa for another 30 dollar pair of shoes, and maybe it was just my mind numbing hangover, but the next minute I find myself walking down the street on 15th avenue in the hood with my new friend. I’m definitely the only white person in sight, and as I stepped off the bus I wondered how many of the other passengers figured I was done for.

We walked into the liquor store where he claimed to work and he got a 24oz Natural Light and a mini bottle of rum, then we were back outside talking to another man with a beat up white Chevy truck. They were discussing going to get a saw for some trees, and the next thing I know I’m throwing my bags in the bed and climbing into the cab with the man from the bus and his friend.

We drove away and I pondered my predicament. I really must learn to pack better. I should have had a charged phone on me too, but hey, whatever. Fifteen minutes and 40 some odd blocks later, we get out in a dilapidated yard and my friend goes inside for the shoes. At this point I’m hoping pretty seriously that he has no intentions of robbing or murdering me. After a few more minutes of nervous regret I see him emerge with a shiny pair of black dress shoes.

“You thought I was lying, didn’t you?” He grinned, showing off his four or five missing front teeth.

“I wasn’t sure, but I came with you, didn’t I?”

“Well like I said, someone blessed me and I wanted to bless you.”

I thanked him profusely, shook his hand, and he directed me to the bus stop for route 6 and disappeared down the road in his friend’s white Chevy. Five dollars and ten minutes later I was walking into work early enough to drink a coffee and have a breakfast croissant sandwich. Here’s hoping the next 27 days are as interesting as today’s been.


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