John "Not Causing No Trouble"

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

In my life, I’ve been a welder, a machinist, drove a truck for awhile. Been all over the United States, into racing - we went everywhere. I enjoyed that I got to do that. Then it got to be too much - it’s a tough life. You don’t get too many days off, work at least eighteen hours a day. I got burnt out basically. That’s when I went to trucking. My brothers were into trucking and they got me into driving trucks for years.

In the late '90's I was diagnosed with cancer. I haven’t been doing much since I came down with it. Boy, that took up years. Back in 1998 - took chemotherapy for three years, which was worse than the cancer. I would throw up every day, all day. I would have one, maybe two days a week where I wasn’t throwing up. But the good Lord healed me from that. So far I’ve been cancer-free.

With being homeless, I’ve found that the weather is the hardest thing to deal with. Like this last rain we had - oh, seven inches of rain, me and two of my friends found this little bridge that was high enough up - where we were sleeping was under four feet of water. A city utility truck got stalled out down there, too. That’s how bad it was. It was raining like you wouldn’t believe - lightning and hail. There was a bridge close by so we got underneath it to get out of the rain. The lightning was tough, but we made it through the night.

I’ve learned some lessons throughout the years of being homeless. First, you’ve got to watch who you're hanging out with. There’s some really good people out there on the streets, and then there’s some really bad people. Gotta choose your friends wisely, gotta watch where you go. Like its not safe to go some places downtown at night. And there’s certain places down alongside the tracks that’s not safe to go. Like where me and my two buddies stay, most people know us, most people stay away, leave us alone. Not too many people come around. They think it’s too out in the public.

And the police, shutting all the campsites down has been hard on a lot of people. Some of them people, there can be eight or ten of them, and they just trash the place, they don’t clean up. Where me and my buddies stay, we try to keep the place picked up clean. Not have a lot of trash. That’s mostly what the public and the police don’t like - people just going in and trashing an area. Packing in stuff they don’t need, just leaving it. I can see why they don’t like that. That hurts the rest of us.

I’m here just trying to make it through life, not causing no trouble.

(Story chronicled in 2016)