Backpacks

Posted: May 30, 2007 in Goals, Homelessness, Hopes

San Luis Obispo is known for being the home of Cal Poly University. Not only does it bring revenue into the city, but it brings people in as well – in the form of students, professors, visiting lecturers and so on.

I’ve noticed that the homeless and the Cal Poly students have one major thing in common: backpacks.  

In the mornings when I transfer between bus routes at the downtown transit center I see students on their way to campus. And, the majority of them are carrying their books and whatever in their backpacks.

Homeless people use backpacks to carry books around with them too. But the main reason homeless carry backpacks is to tote around their personal belongings. Some carry around reasonably small packs, while others are carrying around packs large enough to feed an entire platoon for about a week.

I carry a backpack around with me as well.

Actually, there are two different backpacks that I use. One is larger than the other, and depending on what I may have lined up for the day, that will determine which of the two I’ll be lugging around with me. And regardless of which one I carry, both seem to be a lot heavier at the end of the day than they did in the morning.

Over the past few weeks, both of them have started out heavier in the morning than they used to. It must be the laptop and its accessories – things like AC adapter, blank CD’s, etcetera – that I constantly carry around with me now.

Most of what I used to carry around with me were items like an umbrella and rain poncho (because even when the forecast doesn’t call for rain – around here you never really know), a spare tee-shirt, extra socks, and various things like that. Now, however, the laptop goes everywhere with me so that whenever there is any lag time I can power it up and do some work.

Although laptops are designed to be portable they aren’t exactly feather light.

The one that I have is roughly about 7 pounds. That may not sound all that heavy, but after a day of carrying it around, packing and unpacking it – add to that the additional weight of the accessories – it starts to add weight that I previously didn’t carry around with me.

I’m not complaining about it but, at the same time, I’m certainly not getting any younger. And, while I’m certainly not ready to kick the bucket just yet, I find myself happy to take the pack off my back and set it down every chance I get.

On days when the library is open and I don’t have anything else that I must do I can go, stay there most of the day and work without having to be constantly moving from location to location in order to avoid getting a ticket for loitering.

On days when it’s not open, trying to get anything done is a "start and stop" situation. I have to continuously be aware of how long I’ve been sitting there so that I don’t go over the one hour time limit. So, I end up using up some of the time unpacking, then some of the time re-packing. Then I use up time moving about – on foot or bus – to find somewhere else to work from. It can become quite a hassle.

But then, it’s just part of the struggle of everyday living, isn’t it? It’s the desire to rise above ones current situation that makes the journey – even if it does have a few speed bumps and potholes – a noble undertaking.

But in the end it’s all worth it.

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