Monday, March 15, 2010

O (NO!) Cala

My Third Encounter With The Law

I started walking towards "the county," Saturday afternoon. A black woman pulled over beside me and actually asked me if I needed a ride. This is so out of the ordinary in Florida, where it seems to be "every man for himself." She drove me to the Wal-Mart. The ride was long enough to have me thinking about the walk back, and ruing it.

I got out on one of the exits and began to play. My sign read: "Street Musician Stimulus Package." I made three dollars quickly, then, a cop pulled up.

He was in an "unmarked" car. He identified himself as O.P.D., which I figured stood for Ocala Police Department. He said that I couldn't play my guitar there. "They don't want you here," was what he said. I told him that the other cops had told me that I could play in the county. He repeated what he said, and added enough information to make me think that he really was a cop and not some smart-ass in a Dodge Neon, trying to run me off because he had had a bad day and was looking to take it out on anyone.

The cops had said that the county started "past Wal-Mart" and I had been kind of playing ignorant.
The MarathonI went to the Circle K, where I was told that it was against company policy to let me play. I went across the street to a "Marathon" gas station and the kindly foreigner behind the counter told me that I could play, but, only "over by the air machine" thing. I sat over by the air pump, 50 feet from where people got out of their cars and went in the store. Nobody walked the 50 feet to throw me anything. I walked the 3 miles back to the spot where mine and Karrie's stuff is, and slept, after stopping at the dollar store and getting some sloppy joe sauce and a can of tuna.

Sunday, I was up with the birds, who have calmed down some. There is no bus service on Sunday, so, I walked the 3 miles back to the Marathon station. I figured that on a nice sunny Sunday, there might be a change of fortunes there. I had only made 5 bucks since arriving, 4 days prior.

I played on the spot, after being warned by some homeless types that I was subject to arrest for doing so. I knew that I had permission from the foreigner inside, and wasn't worried. It made me think that the homeless were baiting me, so that I would go away and leave the panhandling to them. I made only two dollars. A guy sat next to me drinking his beer and complimenting my playing. He said that he hoped that he wasn't interfering with my business by being there. I could never figure out if the presence of another person helps or hinders. On one hand, it looks like you have attracted an audience; on the other, it looks like one more mouth to feed and some people don't want to double up their tip, and they don't want to insult the two persons with 50 cents each, for example...
I Take My Chances At The Ramp
Monday morning, I decided to just go out to the off ramp of the interstate and dispense with all the other nonsense, roll the dice and get rich or go to jail. These are where I make 30 bucks an hour in Jacksonville.
I took the bus, and was at the ramp by 10a.m. I was nervous all the way there, wondering if the ramp would be accessible, if cars would stop in a line, or just whiz past, or if the interstate was in the "county," or the "city." I also knew that I was down to 33 bucks, and spending 3 of it just on bus trips.

I stopped at a store on the way and was accosted by a foreigner. "The restroom is out of order," he said, as I walked in. "Excuse me," I said. "The restroom is out of order, he repeated. I said "I'll remember that if I need to use a restroom." I went and got a can of 211 High Gravity Lager. I was going to go out and play absolutely sober, and almost did, but figured that one beer might only help.

I went out on the off ramp with my sign, which read: Street Musician Stimulus Package, and made only 6 bucks in almost an hour. I began to assess the risk vs. reward, of being out there and subjecting myself to the cops for 6 bucks per hour. I left.

I went and had another lager. I then returned to the opposite ramp, making only a few more bucks. I moved into the median strip and made a fast 7 bucks, and then, getting that creepy O.P.D. feeling in my spine, I packed up and left for the day. I had made 14 bucks the entire day, not enough to risk going to jail over. They will usually just run one off the first time seeing them. It is when a specific cop sees you a second time, after having warned you, that the trouble starts. With the Lidgeleys coming on Thursday, my thoughts were of them driving up from Orlando to visit, and finding me not there as planned. They might think that I had snubbed them, or was irresponsible. Since they read this blog, they might draw the right conclusion, still, it would have been a wasted trip for them.
Mind Racing, Considering Options
It is now Tuesday, and I woke up with about 42 bucks, up nine from yesterday.
I lay there this morning with my mind racing. I thought about the impending doom up in Jacksonville. I will suffer the same fate as Karrie, as soon as my citations turn into warrants. I thought about going to Jacksonville and getting my bike, and then travelling up the coast on it, playing One Day Stands along the Rt. 95 ramps. With the warmer weather, a tent and one sleeping bag would suffice, along with a couple changes of clothing. If I like it in any one spot, or, if there is employment of any kind (imagine that) I might settle for a while and maybe even take advantage of one of those programs "to reduce homelessness," which are out there. Some provide shelter, clothing, hygiene and assistance in obtaining work. The first step in a 12-step program is to admit helplessness. Checking into a program like that would make me feel that I had.
The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming!!
The Lidgeleys offered to give me a ride back to Jacksonville. I have two days to decide if this is the way to go. I will talk to the people who help the homeless here, and talk to the lady that runs The Wine Bar. Someone told me that he walked in there and was able to play his guitar for tips. He didn't say how much he made, but he also didn't say how well he played. Maybe, the Ridgeleys and I could do our dinner at The Wine Bar. That might get my foot in the door. They wanted me to select the place, and so far it's the only place that I have heard of. In the interim day before they arrive, I might try to play at the Marathon station again, to see if it continues to be futile. As I befriend the foreigner, he may allow me to creep closer to the entrance, (maybe six inches per night.)
Today, I had hoped to send Karrie a little bit more money. I had also hoped to make about 50 bucks yesterday, not 14...
A Nation Addicted To Sugar
I will probably wash my clothes behind some building, saving $2.50, and then write Karrie a letter while they are drying on one buck. I could send her just the couple dollars, which I would save. She could buy a honey bun for $1.20 and trade it for an entire breakfast tray. Such is the markup on a honey bun, once it goes within the confines of a jail. It's because they serve no sugar on the food trays, and this nation is addicted to sugar, amongst the other 11 or so things, which it is addicted to.
If you are reading this, I gave Karrie your address to return my mail, because I don't know where I will be. E-mail me, if you get a letter from her. I still don't know how much time they gave her. I might try to call. I am off to the shelter now, to see if they hold any hope for a better life here. I have yet to settle in here, and make a decent camp, as it has not been promising so far...
At least, I don't have to worry about the weather tonight.

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