Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hobo Ethical Code

It has come to my attention that being a hobo has become 'trendy'. While this information is not very new, I must confess that I really don't understand why people have to ruin cultures that existed for many years. There are kids that come into the Hostile City for the specific purpose of posing as a squatter or gutter punk. They congregate in the park, contribute nothing of worth and will put their hand out in hopes of making some money.

Honestly, I find this to be incredibly disgusting and insulting to those who have truly embraced such a lifestyle. On a recent trip to South Street, I saw a couple of these kids sitting with a cardboard sign and asking for spare change. Their clothes appeared to be fairly new and were quite clean, the girl was wearing bling plugs, and neither one of them looked as though they had spent a single nite on the street. When I walked past and that hand when out, my natural response was "Get a fucking job!"

There are a lot of homeless people in this city, some of which are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Every single one of them has a story, and unfortunately, there are many who lie thru their teeth for sympathy. While I have given of myself in many instances, lately I cannot bear parting with a dollar or even the loose change jingling around in my hand bag. Mostly due to the fact that I myself am unemployed, but also because I am tired of people taking the easy way out. If I really wanted to, I could be just like those individuals who would rather sit on the street and prey on the generosity of strangers than make the effort to get a job.

On a few occasions, I came across some hobos recently, and without a second thought I happily handed them whatever I could spare. It did not matter what they were going to use the money for, nor did I really care. At least they are being honest, and I will readily reward that over some lame story that's supposed to play on my heart strings. Besides, as a Carny, I sort of feel obligated to show kindness towards like-minded individuals.

In any event, before taking the plunge and jumping on a train to score cool points, one should be fully aware of what is considered to be proper traveling etiquette.

An ethical code was created by Tourist Union #63 during its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis Missouri. This code was voted upon as a concrete set of laws to govern the Nationwide Hobo Body.
  • Decide your own life, don't let another person run or rule you.
  • When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  • Don't take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
  • Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
  • When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  • Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk [or drug addict] and set a bad example for locals' treatment of other hobos.
  • When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
  • Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  • If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  • Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  • When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
  • Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  • Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
  • Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  • Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
  • If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!

For some more interesting reading, check out the Dictionary of Old Hobo Slang, brought to you by the Original Hobo Nickel Society.

1 comment:

  1. One of my best friends sort of lives this way, but he does it because he's unhappy being limited by societal expectations and material posessions. He has a job and works hard, sometimes he has an apartment (other times he squats in small communities of other like-minded individuals - apparently this is really easy to do in New Orleans right now) but when he gets sick of where he is (currently New Orleans), he'll just sell all of his posessions again (the only things he ever keeps are his phone, books, and photos) and buy a one-way ticket somewhere new. I respect and admire that kind of free-spiritedness in someone, but it seems bizarre to me that someone would live that kind of life to be "trendy" when choosing to live that way is usually done as a way to remove oneself from societal trends in the first place.

    I blame the horrible sense of entitlement so many kids in their late teens/early 20s have right now.

    Of course, I'm talking about being a drifter by choice; most homeless individuals who end up that way without making a conscious choice to do so have ended up there because of either an addiction or mental illness - something like 60% of homeless people in America have some kind of severe and persistent mental illness. Either way, 20-somethings doing it in an effort to be trendy is kind of insulting to both those who are on the streets because they can't find a way out and those who are there because they made a conscious choice to live differently from most people.