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Thursday, December 23, 2010

QOTW: Living Conditions

I open the Mail Bag, and what do I seek?  Here in my right hand, the Question of the Week!

Next time it may be, your question to Tom.  Email it,!

Where do you sleep?
- Kyle B., Livingston County, New York

Well Kyle, it's interesting you ask that at this juncture, because I've been actively looking for new accommodations.  The weather has started getting really cold, and it won't be long before snow really starts cramping my style!

In the warm months I really like sleeping out under the stars, so a nice sleeping bag is all you really need.  In the summer I actually try to avoid the cities at night, choosing to retire a few miles out of town in a quiet park or graveyard where I'm unlikely to be disturbed.  As the weather starts getting rainy in the latter part of the year, I usually migrate into the city and either find a structure to sleep under or build my own semi-permanent lean-to.

That's what I've been in since late September, a nice little lean-to I built with a friend of mine named Burris, who was not in town long after (true transient!).  It's lovely, solidly built out of wood, stone, good river mud and leaves.

Since the weather started getting cold, I've been lighting a barrel fire on either side of the lean-to an hour or so before bed, which warms it up nice from both sides.  I don't allow the fires to burn after I go to sleep, because I have known many transients who have burned to death trapped in their own lean-tos.  Instead, I set grates on top of the burn barrels and heat up stray bricks I have found.  I then wrap the bricks in cloth and sleep near them.  Between these tactics and my supply of blankets and old towels, I have been able to keep relatively comfortable through the night.

Lately, though, the frigid cold through the night has started to become unbearable, and I will need to find somewhere else to lie my head within the next few days.  More than likely I'll have to transport my collection of blankets and towels from my lean-to home to an abandoned building somewhere, where I can at least be more securely in out of the elements.

My goal, though, is to locate a friendly group of Steam Men and ask if I can join their rank & file throughout the coldest months.  Steam Men, as a rule, are not particularly accommodating to strangers--especially ones who don't arrive until they're looking for a handout.  Still, there is an exception to every rule and I am hoping to seek out some genuine hospitality this Christmas season.

In solidarity,

Train Tom