A few people have written to me about my “From Whitman to WalMart” (Soma)tic poetry ritual I am currently doing.
Part of the ritual involves sleeping in my car in WalMart parking lots.
Some poets have written saying they also want to do this.
Please let me share some information with you.
80% of WalMarts allow parking to sleep, but make sure you are parking in one of the 80% that allows this.
Always sleep in the drivers seat.
Always have the windows all the way up.
Always have keys in the ignition READY to go.
Please ALWAYS park so you have a straight shot out of there, and please don’t ever park so that you
I made the mistake of parking at a WalMart among the 20% that doesn’t allow parking to sleep and I woke to find a group of men (I don’t know if it was five or six of them) around the car looking in the window at 3 in the morning.
One of them had either a baseball bat or 2X4.
But in just a second I pulled myself forward with the steering wheel, turned the ignition and floored the gas to get out of there.
Close calls are part of living on the road and should be expected.
Please consider my advice because you never know…
Also it is important to have conversations with the other people parking to sleep because most tend to want to talk, especially the homeless.
The retired folks parking their campers and RVs seem less interested in talking, but the homeless, especially the homeless families want to talk because they share information with one another about how to survive out there.
For the better part of 1970 my mother and I lived in our car.
I keep trying to think if it was easier then or now and my conclusion is that it’s a little of both for both.
If you get a WalMart that allows sleeping you are safe so far in my experience.
In 1970 my job was to take care of the can opener.
The can opener was a valuable tool back then but not so much for my life today.
Restrooms are much nicer today of course.
In 1970 gas station bathrooms had a kind of abrasive, toxic powdered soap that came out of a dispenser and it seemed to take a lot of water to remove the oily film it left on your body.
There were far less cars back then and it seemed easier to sleep in out of the way locations.
My one cousin in the army is giving me a camouflage net to throw over my car so I can park off-road and this is not ideal of course, but might be useful.
I hate to make this JUST about survival because it is a beautiful thing to be living on the road, meeting new people, stretching across the belly of the planet.