The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 September 2003

Out in the streets

The saga of former WSJ staffer turned free-lancer turned sort-of-homeless person Les Gapay has gotten some play in blogdom. I didn't pay much attention to it for reasons which can literally be summed up as "been there, done that": like many others, I moved to California in the late Eighties, and things went bust rather quickly, prompting me, after a period of living out of my car, to do a reverse Tom Joad, rationalizing that if I'm gonna be broke, it's less painful, or at least less expensive, to be broke in Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, Wylie is shedding no tears for Les:

[H]e seemed stuck on hanging around the California job market. Now, if you're fishing, you like to be where the fish are. When you're looking for work, it's good to be where the jobs are. Due to wildly profligate spending of the quasi-socialists in the California legislature, a mild recession has plunged the California economy straight into the crapper.

"Plunged" and "crapper" do seem to go together well, I must admit.

I didn't do especially well upon my return to Oklahoma — sporadic temp work at best, and it was many months before I got a regular roof over my head — but things did eventually become, if not wonderful, at least less heinous.

Gapay also didn't connect with faith-based institutions, which draws another Wylie swipe:

The church, especially the Catholic Church, has historically been very supportive of those who are temporarily "down on their luck", providing temporary food and shelter to help them get "back on their feet", but Mr. Gapay says he "never went to a shelter". I don't know exactly what he expected these "churches he attended" to do for him — give him money perhaps — but I know that at least in my experience you get out of anything about what you put into it.

I spent a few nights in shelters. Most of what I felt was gratitude, with traces of embarrassment here and there; certainly I didn't feel as though any of the sponsoring organizations owed me anything.

Wylie sums up Gapay's story this way:

"The terrible economy put me out of work, and the Nanny State didn't take good enough care of me."

And as Nanny States go, few of them are more intrusive — or more profligate — than California.

Posted at 6:26 AM to Your 15 Minutes Are Up

TrackBack: 11:02 PM, 25 September 2003
» Experimenting with vagrancy from
Several items related to local vagrancy: Tom McCloud, the publisher of Community Spirit magazine, has spent the last four days on the streets to try to understand that way of life on the inside. He has written about his experiences on the magazine's we......[read more]

I go on hiatus for over a month, get a wild hare and do a post, and - low and behold! - I get a link from my Oklahoma blogging buddy.

I seriously figured no one would ever read my cranky little diatribe but - thanks!

Posted by: Wylie at 9:51 PM on 25 September 2003

You lousy bastard.
How dare you take food stamps and what other way of getting through life without getting off your lazy ass and find a labor job.
You actually made a living doing something that you liked. So now you can't.
Playing homeless and living off peoples taxes is your answer?
I know this sounds like just another right wing liberal hating guy. But your wrong.
i'm not originally from this country and I would clean up shit in the streets rather then have my kids think I'm homeless.
Screw you Les Gapay.

Posted by: Yendor at 6:33 PM on 27 September 2003

Wow. Someone who makes me look like a moderate.

Take a bow, Yendor. I like your spunk!

Posted by: Wylie at 5:07 PM on 1 October 2003