For my write-up today of Stephen King’s IT, my theme is making one’s way in the world when poor, or, in Beverly’s case, when one is denied access to one’s wallet or credit card:
1. On pages 311-312, young Eddie Kaspbrak fantasizes about being a hobo: “I’m a hobo…I’m a hobo and I ride the rods. That’s what I do. Ain’t got no money, ain’t got no home, but I got me a bottle and a dollar and a place to sleep. I’ll pick apples this week and potatoes the week after that and when the frost locks up the ground like money inside a bank vault, why, I’ll hop a GS&WM box that smells of sugar-beets and I’ll sit in the corner and pull some hay over me if there is some and I’ll drink me a little drink and I’ll chew me a little chew and sooner or later I’ll get to Portland or Beantown, and if I don’t get busted by a railroad security dick I’ll hop one of those ‘Bama Star boxes and head down south and when I get there I’ll pick lemons or limes or oranges. And if I get vagged I’ll build roads for tourists to ride on. Hell, I done it before, ain’t I?”
I’ve wondered at times how homeless people make their way through the world, or how I would make my way through it if I were homeless. My Mom was once a teacher at a Catholic school, and she knew a student who lived under a bridge, and (if I recall the story correctly) even raised his brothers and sisters under it. What would that be like? How would homeless people bathe, or wash their clothes? Would they stink? In that case, how would they make a good impression on potential employers so as to get a job? Would they starve?
There are probably different experiences of homelessness. Some don’t shave and thus look like an unkempt version of Jesus (according to popular pictures of Jesus). I once bought a homeless person some granola bars, and he said that it was hard to get work (in response to my little judgmental question of whether or not he was looking for work) because he hadn’t had a bath, but he was trying to get to a shelter. I asked my Mom what a person living under a bridge would do, and she replied that there are homeless people who wash and shave in the library, and they may have a change of clothes, which they wash at a laundromat. Some of them have jobs, and some get money through asking others for it, or through relying on the charity of others. I knew one homeless person who ate at a local Mediterranean restaurant at times, since the owner there let him eat, in exchange for doing dishes.
Eddie’s fantasy of the hobo life in the 1950’s held that many hobos earned some money by picking fruit or by contributing to infrastructure, and they went to different work sites by hopping trains. But there were probably different experiences.
2. After Beverly has a fight with her abusive husband, Tom Rogan, and flees, she notices that she left her wallet and credit-cards at home, and that she didn’t have a dime with her. What would she do? She couldn’t go back to her house, which was where her abusive husband was. How would Beverly get to Derry to reunite with her friends and fight IT?
Well, fortunately, Beverly had a rich friend, Kay, a noted feminist author who “was accused of having embraced feminism after using archaic, chauvinistic laws to take her manufacturer husband for every cent the law should allow her” (page 387). (I just had to quote that because I thought it was funny. I’m more liberal nowadays, but I still recognize that not all liberals practice what they preach.) And Beverly herself was quite well-off as a fashion designer, and she wrote herself a check before Tom froze the accounts. Page 386 is interesting: “…Beverly wrote her own check for a thousand dollars on a plain sheet of typing paper. ‘I read once that they have to take a check no matter what it’s written on,’ she told Kay…’Someone cashed a check once that was written on an artillery shell. I read that in The Book of Lists, I think.'” I doubt that would work nowadays. If I wanted to write myself a check on a piece of paper or an artillery shell, I’d probably need my ID, and maybe my account number. But Beverly didn’t have her wallet.