The Hobe got his name from an episode long before I ever got assigned to the group home called "The Robin Hood House". Some clever manager and case managers got together and decided that The Hobe was ready to further his integration into the community. They decided that with the proper medications and a lot of encouragement, The Hobe could make a solo bus trip from central Oregon to northern Washington to visit his sister.
The trip went really well. Hobe bathed with no wrestling, they gave him his suitcase and lunch pail of medications and stuck him on the bus. He made it to his sister's, spent two days, no problems, got back on the bus and never showed up at the bus station. Not to worry he was eventually found, but what happened during that bus trip earned the Hobe his nickname.
Here's what happened. His sister, Sister of Hobe, who must have been just a little brighter than the Hobe, took him to the bus station, secured his ticket and told him which bus to get on and left. From what can be pieced together Hobe, went outside of the bus station and started chain smoking, and when he tired of chain smoking got on the closest bus handed the ticket to the ticket guy, growled and cussed and went and passed out on the back seat of the bus.
Now the Hobe was a small guy with a grey beard and the style and fashion of a street wino. He was about 65 when I met him. He was super hobo, though, with the strength (physically and the smell) of a dozen hobos. The staff at this group home consisted of 5 men over 6 feet tall and 250 lbs each, one guy who was just under 6 foot who did all the cooking and had great reflexes (the cook is so seldom hurt), and a Woman who was as big as us big guys and one tiny woman who did all the `talking and charming' at medication time). It took all of us to control the Hobe when he had a tantrum. I would get calls at the bar where I worked security, asking me to leave that job and help with the Hobe. I was a twenty minute bike ride away, if that gives you an idea of the Hobe's tantrums. The bar managers and customers were kind and would wait to brawl until I returned from my errands with the Hobe.
All this said, so you could understand that some guy at Greyhound Bus Lines, making $5.25 and hour tearing ticket stubs, would not go out of his way to tell this hobo, that he was on the wrong bus. Best let him be, and let the next guy down the line deal with him.
The Hobe, armed with a month's worth of meds (Yes a month of meds, some regulations that forced staff to send all the month worth of medications with him), dozens of cartons of cigarettes (his sister bought him dozens of cartons of cigarettes as a sort of gift slash appeasement) and the wit and wisdom of a seasoned hobo, got on the Greyhound bus and cashed in a ticket to freedom. When the Hobe reached Sacramento he was tired of riding and stepped off the bus into a new life.
As a youth, growing up in Sacramento and my father working just across the street from the bus station downtown, I was very familiar with that station. I have come and gone out of that station many times in my life. The downtown Sacramento bus station is a magnet for all sorts of people. Not only do you have all the regular people working bureaucratic jobs, like my father, and all the travellers coming and going, and shoppers wandering a block off the mall, and youth looking for something, anything to capture their attention, it was a hub for the homeless, winos, junkies, hookers, street people, traveling dead heads, migrant workers and hobos.
The Greyhound Bus station in Downtown Sacramento, in this warm sunny capital city with huge parks and plenty of soup kitchens was hobo heaven. Well, almost hobo heaven; I think hobo heaven is actually down in Balboa Park in San Diego, California. This was Hobo Heaven North.
After about three months, the police in Sacramento picked him up for some unrelated charge, ran his finger prints and found out that he belonged to the Robin Hood house, and sent him home. They bought him a bus ticket and put him on a bus.
The Hobe talked hobo-ese, so it was awfully difficult to get him to tell his story and understand it. Apparently he was king hobo for a while, with the best food and wine and hobo-hookers that cigarettes could buy. Heck, he had a suitcase full of cigarettes, and a lunch pail full of lithium bromide and thorazine. Whenever this crazy old hobo would become agitated and staff wondered if there would be a fight on their hands, some savvy staff would ask about the parties and the ladies of Sacramento, and the Hobe would tear up and gaze upward with an air of reminiscence and eventually babble something about girls and beer.
Every person has a defining moment, a defining episode in life. For the Hobe this defining episode was his trip to Sacramento California. Until this jaunt on the Greyhound bus the Hobe was just another psychotic senior who was a ward of the state.
With a cuss and a growl directed at some minimum wage ticket taker, the Hobe made the transformation from group home obscurity to infamy and in the process taught us all a valuable lesson. I guess if there was a moral to this story it would be: bide your time, take what is available to you and make the best of it, and if the guy tearing tickets hassles you just growl and cuss.
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