- No one is your friend in this situation, especially at the motel. Be friendly but tough, you ain't gonna put up with it attitude. Many will show up on the balconies watching, others will approach you to help. You will find a real friend or two there sometimes, but it takes time to weed out the baddies first.
- Do not take up the offers to help you move your stuff into your room - this is the practice of what we call "shoppers" who are always "shopping" for that free bargain when you are gone.
- Try to make your coming and going varied, in other words, DO NOT KEEP A ROUTINE!!! You know your routine, and believe me, others will too.
- Don't leave your window shades or door open, again a shoppers paradise: one door in, one door out. Two minutes tops and your computer, tv, and whatever else you have is gone.
- Get a storage unit. This should be listed near the top of the list. Make sure it is very secure, and put as much stuff in there as possible, take only the necessities to the room. I have my computer and tv, but at the last place I only kept my computer with me, everyone was getting too interested in my flat screen, so off it went to storage. Also, if you have a vehicle or there is a bus to a nice side of town, or another town, put your storage units there. A few months ago a wild fire started, came down the hill and burned down the storage units. Some serious bad luck, but it is rare, but break-ins at storage units do happen, so I keep my stuff somewhere easy enough to get to, but always in a low crime area. If you can't get a storage unit try pawning your stuff for loan, but think of the cost to get it out, so you do not lose it. I haven't heard of too many pawn shops being broke into, and it is an option, with strings attached.
- Do not share your private info. I had several people give me the inquisition, where I came from, what happened to me, how old I was, am I married, kids, etc, etc, where my job is - if I have a job, do I have a car. They are more than happy to tell their story, so leave it that way. They are not there to comfort you, they are data mining for their cousin, or friend who will potentially so something stupid to you or your stuff. Always be on guard. Or make up a story and let them believe that - I prefer not to tell much, complaining about life is the easiest and most remarkable way to "bond" with people I do not want to really know.
- Be smart, be safe, be street smart. Be friendly enough to get information about help or employment. If you are in need of food many people living there will know the best places and times to get the stuff. I wouldn't give rides if you have a car, only after I get to know people very well.
- Get ready for some noise and practices you may not be used to. If you still have a job your regular sleeping schedule may be interrupted. I cannot count how many times I have been woke up at 1, 2am to a party. Many folks do not have regular jobs, or jobs with daytime hours so your life may change quite a bit. Watch out for needles and broken glass, especially if you have children. And Do NOT let your children out to play without you. Lots of pedophiles live in these places till they get their own apartments. This is not your usual situation, and you have to REALLY Be on Guard! We had a lot of meth addicts getting high in the rooms, then at 2 am they were out in their car cleaning it out. You can tell when they are tweaking, and the crack heads will start their marches. If you see alot of people hanging on the corner - it ain't the local PTA meeting sweety, keep to yourself, do not imbibe.
- Get to know the owner if possible, or the manager. Lots of these weeklies are not like Residence Inn, so the owner is living on site with their family. They know their clientele, and the more you talk to them they usually pick up on the fact that you (and your family) are not like most of the others that breeze in and out. Sometimes they will work with you if your pay is a day late, but then again, many will not.
- Live and Let Live. Calling the police can be a joke, and in certain circumstances even cause you harm. Unless someone is aiming a gun or threatening you or your family, I wouldn't recommend it. The snitch thing is real, but you have to be smart. Call the cops but don't give them your name, and remember, motel phones go through a PBX, so the office knows who calls 911, and the cops will too. BE SMART, BE SAFE.
- I have to add this in, even though I do not drink. If you do drink alcohol, DON'T DO IT, at least not in this situation. Your frustration, depression at the situation can boil over, even if a neighbor invites you over for a few. It is best to leave it alone. Plus, if you smoke you will find lots of people always bumming for a smoke. This is a great time to be sober and level headed.
- Buy bleach and clean the place out. Many places have a "maid", usually another resident, and it is a quick once over with the vacuum and sheets. You really don't want to think about what has gone on in this room, so I just put some music on and start cleaning everything: doors, door knobs, bathroom, counters, headboards, dressers, mirrors, tables and chairs, walls, and get the cheapest throw rugs you can find. The last place I lived was disgusting, the carpet stuck to your shoes, and if you went barefoot the bottom of your feet would be black. Also get a pair a flip flops from the dollar store for the shower and a pair for the room. I never had any feet problems because I stuck to a routine of super cleaning and flip flops. You gotta do what you gotta do to make it livable.
- Don't think about the past - don't think about what you lost, or what you had. Every day is precious, Do Not Waste It.
Hang in there, at least you have a roof over your head. Car living is nothing to write home about, at least here you have a bed. I will post more about resources to look for/to in another post. You will eventually get out of this situation, or you may find a place you like to stay (they are out there) and gives you time to save funds for something else later on.
Don't give up. There is a way out, a door to something better. Keep pressing on.