By Garrett Curley
A wise old preacher once explained to me how tradition works. “This is how tradition works,” he explained. “One week, somebody puts a candle on the table. The next week, someone asks ‘why is there a candle on the table?’ and someone else replies ‘well, it was there last week.’ By the third week, it’s a tradition.” Sometimes tradition just is for its own sake. I’d like to think that’s the case with HOBO WEEK here at The Cadre.
At one of our meetings back in the fall of 2009, it was me who first pitched the idea of having newspaper staffers stay on campus for an entire week, not being able to leave from Monday morning until Friday afternoon, sleeping wherever they could and scavenging for food. I understand that at other universities, people do homelessness protests on campus to actually raise awareness for causes. We just do it for the lulz. To each his own and all that, I guess.
Jeff MacDougald, Jon Millington, Scott Elson, and I learned a lot about ourselves during HOBO WEEK, like how long we can go without showering, when and where to sleep if you want to avoid the UPEI security detail, and who our real friends that will bring us sandwiches when we are homeless on campus are (love you, Lindsay E.). But more importantly, we learned a lot about what you need to do to survive on campus while living the hobo life. Should you ever find yourself homeless at UPEI, be sure to follow these helpful hints:
It is a poor idea to sleep in the lobby of the Student Union Building. You may think you are out of sight at night when the lights are off, but they turn them on at like 6 in the morning and then you’re totally screwed. There is this one security guard at UPEI who is a total hardass, and if you sleep in the lobby of the SU, he will wake you up at 6:30 by loudly kicking over a table and telling you to GTFO. Don’t make the same mistake we did.
Free food is fairly easily obtained at UPEI if you know where to look. If you, like us, have a food budget of zero dollars, it’s not to worry. Any sort of special event on campus, such as a book launch, job fair, or Dean’s Honours and Awards Night is almost certainly going to have free veggies and sandwiches and stuff. Joining the “Free Food Finders UPEI” Facebook group will take you a long way. It’s also useful to enlist the help of others who can message you when they find free food. One of Scott’s classmates even offered to bring him cookies. “Networking is key,” he remarked.
No matter how poorly you sleep, a morning trip to the hot tub in CARI is very refreshing. Sitting in front of a jet will also help work out the kinks in your back that inevitably come with sleeping on the floor of the History Lounge in Main. As an added bonus, you can take a shower on your way out.
The kindness of strangers is much more easily exploited when you are just playing hobo for a week than it would be if you were an actual hobo. Co-workers will take pity. Residence students will offer to let you use their showers. Bros will buy you beers at the Wave. Be sure to take full advantage of your self-imposed disadvantage. Secondary gain!
They totally never lock the Steele Building, or at the very least, a kindly music student will usually open it for you. They might even be sweet enough to make you waffles in the morning (so much love, Morgan W.). The music lounge is a totally great place to sleep the night, so long as you just put the pull-out couch mattress on the floor, since the couch is too old and decrepit to actually support it. Since security is unlikely to come by, it probably won’t even matter if you reek of booze. However…
If you drink ten beers at The Wave, you should probably sleep in residence to avoid the possibility of being found by security passed out drunk in a lounge and probably getting suspended or something worse. The trouble with this is that you won’t have any money to cover your room and board, so you will have to pay for your stay with your labour. You can offer to clean someone’s room, make their breakfast, fold their laundry, or do their dishes. To sweeten the deal, you can offer to do any of those things shirtless.
The foxes on the UPEI campus are easily defeated in combat. In fact, Scott managed to scare one away with a single kick to the ribs. “Why the hell did you kick the poor fox?” he was asked. “Well, it was coming right at me!”
And lastly, if you, like me, are going to graduate with a liberal arts degree, then I shouldn’t need to impress upon you how important it is to learn how to be an effective hobo. Wise up.