Street Scraps

Written
February 20, 2020
Occurred
Spring 2016
a platter of various fast food items from an unspecified chain that specializes in chicken by Aleks Dorohovich, courtesy Unsplash My time on New York City streets brought me to some humiliating lows. I didn't have a well-formed strategy on how to ration food as I never found myself in this situation before. Realizing I would have no ready access to a fridge, and the ban on storing food in storage facilities (because pests would follow), I had to resort to a fast food lifestyle. Today, I consistently lecture people about how there's so much bad stuff in our food that we should avoid, but not long ago, this was my diet, so I have firsthand experience that eating this stuff is not conducive long-term.
I needed to keep food in my stomach because if I didn't, I would experience what felt like a crash. Everything would slow down, I would literally hear my own heart beat, and my reflexes would be subpar, which can be problematic in a crowded city like New York. I wasn't very good at budgeting, and I did not pick foods that would satisfy me long-term. I didn't have a great 'food clock', which meant that I was guaranteed to go to the restroom at inconvenient times. That created additional problems for me, and led to me making messes I wish I hadn't.
My low point came sometime in the Fall of 2015, where I was on an Ⓡ train in Brooklyn, and I noticed someone wasn't going to finish their 12-pack of chicken nuggets. I motioned to the passenger if he was going to eat them. He offered them to me. At that moment, I felt this feeling of clammy cold guilt. I never wanted to feel it again. I set forward an ambitious plan to ensure that I would have better rationing skills. I started standardizing my eating schedule, although sometimes, I slipped. I started carrying cleaning supplies with me (partial kits - the larger kits were kept in storage), and differentiating my library and storage stays.
I also started deepening my involvement with the paperwork process. This was crucial as it was my way of guaranteeing the state would trust me (and even now, as I write this, they have every right to). Historically, my social workers withheld information that was crucial to the success of the process, and I felt that it was avoidable. Thankfully, the state agreed. Our relationship changed for the better, and I was able to achieve some small victories. I also stopped eating food that was left around. As a precaution, I usually checked in with my doctor (still in Westchester County). No poison was found.
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