Im in room 404, which has 26 beds in it. Theres a double outlet for me and my dorm mate Norma to share. She had an extra long extension cord that was able to get behind her locker and she has it tucked behind the locker so she can easily keep her phones charged. I have an extension cord that reaches around the front to my bed and I charge my phone and my tablet front wise. I carry my extension cord in my bag during the day because my phone and tablet charger arent long enough by the couch I sit at in the morning in the living room.
After dinner is when most of the woman turn in for the night. After doing laundry all day and finding things to do with their time the day goes by fairly quickly. The longest part of the day is from 2-4pm. The day lingers. The day goes the slowest during those times. The cafeteria is full, and there’s always music playing from someplace. Its usually rap music or R&B. The chatter of woman on the phone and Spanish speaking natives fill the hallway. But by 5:30pm woman are getting ready to take showers or wash up and turn in for the night. Alot of woman just relax an stream netflix while lounging on their beds.
At 6:30am when the lights come on, it gets noisy. Woman on the phone as soon as the lights come on, and woman getting ready to take a shower and get dressed for the day. The staff come around and let everyone know to be out of the dorms by 9am, to have a good day, and don’t forget to bring your belongings with you when you leave the dorm. Alot of the woman have twin size sheets for their beds, and don’t use the sheets of the shelter because they aren’t fitted. Once a week its linen exchange for the woman who use the shelter sheets. They have an outside vendor they take the dirty sheets to to get bleached and washed. Same goes for the towels, everything is sent out on Wednesdays.
I hear the click of the lights come on and just stay in the bed until 7:30am. Abdul has already texted me good morning, with him being an early riser of the day. He gets up at 5am to get ready to go to work in the city. Its 7.5 hours of sleep you get before the hollogen lights come on. The lights are bright and heat up the room, that by the time the weekend comes everyone was is thankful the lights don’t come on until 4 pm.
Theres always new rules being posted, like you have to use ear buds in the dorms no loud music, but no body pays attention to the rules about no loud music in the dorms, woman still play their music. Theres woman folding their clothes and rearranging their lockers. Alot of the woman buy fabric shortener sheets and put them in-between each layer of clothes in their lockers so they can smell dryer fresh. I don’t have enough patience to do all of that. As long as my clothes are cleaned, Im not impressed with smelling dryer fresh.
The room start to settle around 9pm. But most woman don’t go to bed until lights out, unless they ar working class and go to bed early. When I had nothin to do when I first came to the shelter, Anna gave me a s small notebook and I would write poetry in the notebook, but go to bed by 6pm, and just lay there. Time went by slowly until bed check. I can’t sleep with the lights on, so I would take my blanket and cover my head.
It was the dead of summer, and I had no pajamas to sleep in I had to sleep in jeans or a pair of leggings that was given to me from donations. I was hot under the blanket that was also given to me. The air conditioning cuts off at 5pm when the dorms are open.
Sometimes the supervisor will let the dorms be open for the day and you can go in the dorm and take a nap. Before quarantine started they where leaving the dorms open for social distancing. So you could stay in the dorm all day, which is what I was doing and watching netflix. Even watching too much netflix is boring.
The beds are a little bigger the a cot and not quite twin size. Vernese had given me brand new sheets she bought from a store on burnside and an over stuffed pillow. The pillows at the shelter are flat and plastic. The sheets came with a pillow case so I used it on my new pillow.
The lockers parents that big. Theres one slot for you suite case, which Vernese gave me a brand new suite case which I have just a blanket I took from Franklyn woman shelter and a blanket I found folded up in the street with a note saying it was for a donation for a veteran. I have a coat that the sleeves are a little to short on me folded u the luggage compartment as well. Im going to put it on the donations table, but I have to pull everything out of my locker because on top of the suite case I have a tote bag filled will toothbrushes and tooth paste a comb and a brush and clothes that don’t fit on the other side of my locker, like my true religion hoody I found in the street on the ground.
Woman that have too much stuff roll their clothes and take everything off the shelf in the morning to get dressed so they are consitantly refolding their clothes, so it take them until 9am to get ready to leave the dorm for the day.
Almost everybody has a laundry bag, I was thankful to have purchased one on amazon. I was using a little felt tote bag to carry my dirty panties in, and carrying the rest of my clothes to the laundry room.
Alot of the woman are up and out by 7:30am so they don’t miss the last of breakfast. And this is what goes on in my dorm. Almost half the room has a bed pass. I tried to get one so I could stay in the dorm and just not rush the day, but I was told I don’t have an acute disability Im not prone to insomnia or narcolepsy, or have a disability where I need more sleep then the regular 7.5 hours.
The beds are more comfortable then the cots at Franklyn, and almost everyone agrees to that. Most of the woman at the shelter have been transferred from Franklyn, which is an intake shelter.
The woman are comfortable in their environment. The dorms are semi private which means there two people to a slot. Norma walks around in her underwear when she is getting ready to take a shower then puts on her robe. Alot of the woman walk around naked which Im a little timed. I take my pants off and then switch to sweat pants and change my t shirt then go for a shower. plus I don’t have a robe, it won’t fit in my locker.
The dorm is pretty standard, we have two garbage cans, and a broom and dust pan so we can sweep our areas if need be. Most of the woman are pretty clean and neat, except for Angela. Her bed is on the other side by the door. She has a motorized wheelchair. Her stuff is all over the place in her area, and she is always on the phone. I see her in the morning in the living room chatter boxing away on the phone. Some mornings access a ride comes to pick her up to take her to her program.
After being on the street, I’m thankful to have a bed again. Theres nothing like laying down. I was sleeping in a gazebo leaning putting my head down on my suite case and covering my head with a tarp.
I have yet to meet anyone except for Yvonne who was sleeping on the N train when she became homeless. She was living in Brooklyn but couldn’t make the rent. So she slept on the train. I didn’t resort to do doing that, even though its safer then being on the street, which is why I stayed near Trump hotel. Its residential and privately owned apartment buildings.
But I couldn’t feel more out of place and safe at the same time living at Susans Place. At least Im getting the things I need. Sharing a room with 25 other woman, isn’t that bad. It is what it is. I can’t take the experience any further then what it is already. I have a bed, and roof over my head, 3 meals a day and access to hot showers.