Robin Hood House: The Hobe

Written by Curtis M. Carlson

The Hobe got his name from an episode long before I evergot assigned to the group home called "The Robin HoodHouse". Some clever manager and case managers gottogether and decided that The Hobe was ready to furtherhis integration into the community. They decided thatwith the proper medications and a lot of encouragement,The Hobe could make a solo bus trip from central Oregonto northern Washington to visit his sister.

The trip went really well. Hobe bathed with no wrestling, they gave himhis suitcase and lunch pail of medications and stuck himon the bus. He made it to his sister's, spent two days,no problems, got back on the bus and never showed up atthe bus station. Not to worry he was eventually found,but what happened during that bus trip earned the Hobehis nickname.

Here's what happened. His sister, Sister of Hobe, whomust have been just a little brighter than the Hobe, tookhim to the bus station, secured his ticket and told himwhich bus to get on and left. From what can be piecedtogether Hobe, went outside of the bus station andstarted chain smoking, and when he tired of chain smokinggot on the closest bus handed the ticket to the ticketguy, growled and cussed and went and passed out on theback seat of the bus.

Now the Hobe was a small guy with a grey beard and thestyle and fashion of a street wino. He was about 65 whenI met him. He was super hobo, though, with the strength(physically and the smell) of a dozen hobos. The staff atthis group home consisted of 5 men over 6 feet tall and250 lbs each, one guy who was just under 6 foot who didall the cooking and had great reflexes (the cook is soseldom hurt), and a Woman who was as big as us big guysand one tiny woman who did all the `talking and charming'at medication time). It took all of us to control theHobe when he had a tantrum. I would get calls at the barwhere I worked security, asking me to leave that job andhelp with the Hobe. I was a twenty minute bike ride away,if that gives you an idea of the Hobe's tantrums. The barmanagers and customers were kind and would wait to brawluntil I returned from my errands with the Hobe.

All this said, so you could understand that some guy atGreyhound Bus Lines, making $5.25 and hour tearing ticketstubs, would not go out of his way to tell this hobo,that he was on the wrong bus. Best let him be, and letthe next guy down the line deal with him.

The Hobe, armed with a month's worth of meds (Yes a monthof meds, some regulations that forced staff to send allthe month worth of medications with him), dozens ofcartons of cigarettes (his sister bought him dozens ofcartons of cigarettes as a sort of gift slashappeasement) and the wit and wisdom of a seasoned hobo,got on the Greyhound bus and cashed in a ticket tofreedom. When the Hobe reached Sacramento he was tired ofriding and stepped off the bus into a new life.

As a youth, growing up in Sacramento and my fatherworking just across the street from the bus stationdowntown, I was very familiar with that station. I havecome and gone out of that station many times in my life.The downtown Sacramento bus station is a magnet for allsorts of people. Not only do you have all the regularpeople working bureaucratic jobs, like my father, and allthe travellers coming and going, and shoppers wandering ablock off the mall, and youth looking for something,anything to capture their attention, it was a hub for thehomeless, winos, junkies, hookers, street people,traveling dead heads, migrant workers and hobos.

The Greyhound Bus station in Downtown Sacramento, in thiswarm sunny capital city with huge parks and plenty ofsoup kitchens was hobo heaven. Well, almost hobo heaven;I think hobo heaven is actually down in Balboa Park inSan Diego, California. This was Hobo Heaven North.

After about three months, the police in Sacramento pickedhim up for some unrelated charge, ran his finger printsand found out that he belonged to the Robin Hood house,and sent him home. They bought him a bus ticket and puthim on a bus.

The Hobe talked hobo-ese, so it was awfully difficult toget him to tell his story and understand it. Apparentlyhe was king hobo for a while, with the best food and wineand hobo-hookers that cigarettes could buy. Heck, he hada suitcase full of cigarettes, and a lunch pail full oflithium bromide and thorazine.Whenever this crazy old hobo would become agitated andstaff wondered if there would be a fight on their hands,some savvy staff would ask about the parties and theladies of Sacramento, and the Hobe would tear up and gazeupward with an air of reminiscence and eventually babblesomething about girls and beer.

Every person has a defining moment, a defining episode inlife. For the Hobe this defining episode was his trip toSacramento California. Until this jaunt on the Greyhoundbus the Hobe was just another psychotic senior who was award of the state.

With a cuss and a growl directed at some minimum wageticket taker, the Hobe made the transformation from grouphome obscurity to infamy and in the process taught us alla valuable lesson. I guess if there was a moral to thisstory it would be: bide your time, take what is availableto you and make the best of it, and if the guy tearingtickets hassles you just growl and cuss.