It all started when I was working for Freeway Insurance as a sales trainee in Clairemont. I was hired by my good friend Kevin, my former manager at American Graphics, where we sold promotional giveaways to medical and small businesses all across the country.
I started in October of 2011 and worked there until February of 2012. Everything was going great until I had to take the state insurance test. It was very difficult. If I passed that test, then I would become a licensed agent, but since I didn’t, they couldn't keep me on at minimum wage. I knew I was in trouble, as I had child support to pay and rent was due.
My landlord was a huge Georgia Bulldogs football fan, and every Saturday we would watch football from sun-up to sundown. He slept in the garage because he had rented out all the rooms in the house. I needed help! I went to my older brother Bruce who lives on Mt. Soledad Road with his new wife. They were kind enough to let me live with them for six months, so I could save enough to move out on my own.
My brother said, "I can't help you, you’re on your own!" I was hurt, but I did not give up. I then went to my loving girlfriend Darlene, aka “The Dar,” who had no way to help me with shelter because she lived with her aging parents. They are nice folks, but "old-school.” Darlene would drive out to see me on the weekends and we would go out to dinner, usually at a fast-food place.
She suggested that I stay with her sister Peggy and her husband Eddie, who lived in Vista. I thought it was too far away, but I didn't have a choice so I packed up my clothes in a big black garbage bag and waited for Darlene to pick me up.
I stayed with them for about a month and slept on a bed in their garage. I had nothing to do all day but watch TV with their dogs — and, boy, were the dogs getting tired of me! I tried to get a job in Vista but there was nothing around and after about a month of their hospitality, food, and shelter, I had to find another place to live.
Darlene and I went to the employment office and found information about homeless shelters in the area. We found a very reasonable shelter called La Posada in the backcountry of Carlsbad. For a mere $20 a week, they provided a bed and three meals. Darlene cried when she dropped me off that first day, and I said to myself. Okay, I have landed in hell! I was right: there were some 50 beds in a military-style building and there was not a finkin’ thing to do.
They would wake you up every day at 4:30 a.m. to roll out of bed. It was impossible to sleep, and people were constantly getting up to go to the bathroom. The beds were terrible! They gave you a comfortless pillow and the lights were out at 9 p.m. They would kick your butt out at 6 a.m. and a lot of my "bedmates" would go off to their meaningless jobs.
I found a friend, though: Big Mike, who showed me the ropes. We would leave and ride the bus to the local libraries and hang out till dinnertime, around 5 p.m. We had to walk a mile or so up a steep hill in the summer's heat.
The food in the place was scarcely edible, and you had to beg for seconds. After dinner you could play volleyball with your fellow “bedmates” or putt on a small golf green that was about 20 years old. You could also go back to your bed and just lie there and be bored to death!
At that time, I was running out of money, so after about a month I decided to get the hell out of there. I figured I would take my chances that my "bro" would take me in just one more time. It was the end of June, and I packed up my belongings and pleaded with my girlfriend Darlene to come pick me up early in the morning. I must have waited three hours for her to come and get me.
She picked me up and said that they had to put Al the Wonder Dog to sleep and that my brother was very depressed. So, there I was, getting out of La Posada homeless shelter, my brother’s beloved dog dead, and my girlfriend Darlene not very happy with me but stlll sticking by my side.