Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Where I Lay My Head is Home (Even Though it's a Parking Lot)

Figuring out where to sleep was really quite the challenge. I knew that my storage unit was out. I know someone who manages some units locally, and they had to kick someone out for living in his unit (turns out, it's illegal). At first, I thought I'd find an inconspicuous area in my office to crash at with a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and a pillow. (Criticize me all you want for "squatting," but think about it: they pay good money to keep the place heated and cooled 24/7/365, so whether I'm there or not, nothing changes. It's not like I stored things there or moved my belongings in permanently). I thought I struck gold when I landed on the "Mother's Room" since there isn't anyone in my office who currently uses it - there was a mini-fridge, a sink, and even some cabinet space. Yeah, that worked out really well until corporate security found me, and my manager engaged in several concerned conversations with me to make sure that I had a place to stay and wasn't just crashing because I was at work late. So, nix the idea of the office - FAR too many people to run into who would ask questions that I don't need.

After that mess, I decided that my car was likely the best spot out of the options that I didn't really have. I'll go into more detail about my car in another post (I had to modify a lot of things), but it wasn't easy. First, where should I park? I thought by mistake that I should park out of the way. Yeah, that was a bad assumption. From my point of view, this made sense since no one would notice me, right? Well, that's exactly what police are supposed to look for: things that look inconspicuous but are rather suspicious. No matter how hard I tried, every spot I stayed at would eventually lead to someone holding a flashlight and knocking on my window in the middle of the night.

Since fall was on the horizon, I really needed access to an outlet in order to keep my car heated. My next thought was to map out all of the hotels and the like that had easily-accessible outdoor outlets. This proved to be fairly simple, and the trick is to look around air conditioning units. After driving around one evening after work, I had a good half-dozen places that I could stay at. I figured that it would be best to rotate amongst the different locations in order to not draw suspicion.

This plan worked fairly well, and I never drew any unnecessary attention or got asked questions. However, I finally landed on a better solution: truck stops. No one asks any questions. Ever. Even though I'm the green thumb amongst a bunch of semis, no one bats an eye. The place I landed on isn't even a truck stop, actually. It turns out that a lot of Walmart, Lowe's, and other retail stores have power outlets in the rear of their parking lot for truckers to use. Since this is far less sketchy and has the added benefit of being right next to a store, it was a win.

So, there you have it - I sleep in my car in the parking lot of a Walmart. Problem solved!