It’s time to address a situation. For the last several months that I’ve been employed on the Westside, I’ve noticed a new kind of people. They’re the kind of people I read about in Larry Brown novels or in The Grapes of Wrath, but never knew existed in real life, nonetheless in Atlanta. This should tell you that I’m speaking of hobos. Dirty people. But not dirty in the streetwalker, filty-language type… I am talking dirty, like they literally have dirt all over them.
They’re dressed in earth tones, strapped to enormous backs and traveling in pairs (either with a human or canine companion). They look young, but weathered. They’ve got stacks of dreds and sunglasses on. (A little Mila Kunis in Book of Eli). Their stuff looks fine – it’s not ragged, heck it’s a little REI. But they are dirty. I am actually afraid to accidentally get a whiff of them for how bad it has the potential to be.
These people are travelers, I guess? Just plain travelers. Not hikers, campers or adventure seekers. Maybe they’re Mormons on their big journey? Except that doesn’t explain the females. They’re always just walking along the side of the road. But never a road that leads somewhere significant. They’re on Howell Mill, walking AWAY from the interstate. Or, they’re in the Kroger parking lot arguing, I guess about who’s going to get to walk in front this time. They’re never holding up signs for food or water, and actually they don’t look hungry at all… and to have walked as far as they’re making it look like they’ve walked, you’d think that if they were hungry they’d be shriveling at a rapid rate. Not the case.
To add to the puzzle, the other day I saw a girl walking, thinking she looked like one of the hobos, because she was crossing the street, no purse, no backpack, just out for a stroll… And of course she was in black socks and combat boots on one of the hottest days yet. Before I could even think about coming up with another reason for her ambling, she dropped behind a homemade billboard (the one at Northside and 17th that says pretty much nothing) and I never saw her again–for the remainder of the red light, at least.
So… she lives there?
A very large part of my irresponsible half wants to stop and get the story out of one of them. I mean, they all look the SAME and hanging out in the same neighborhood, so they’ve got to be working towards the same goal, yes? Is there a movie being filmed and I just don’t know about it?
DON’T WORRY MIKE – The part of me that is married to a risk averter (and respects him for it) hasn’t stopped them yet. But my curiosity increases by the second that I spend thinking about them, and ricochets off the charts every time I spot a new one.
I guess you should stay tuned for the results of my internal conflict, for that should bring an answer to the mystery of these unnamed, taupe-clad travelers. Or, if you’ve seen them to, what do you think? How far do you think they’ve come, or are planning to go? Maybe you ARE one!? You keep up with the world on your iPad3 that’s tucked into the side pocket of your $5,000 hiking bag, next to your Patagonia sleeping bag and homemade beef jerky. Never has there been such a powerful combination of frustration and curiosity on one simple subject!
They are train-hoppers. They go from city to city begging for money, living on the streets, and taking whatever free stuff they can get along the way. Deadbeats, degenerates, whatever you want to call them. They rarely shower, play guitars, have dogs, look like hippies that like homemade tattoos. It’s like a cult/lifestyle thing I guess…
I knew someone would know!