New York on Under $15 a Day (Almost)!

Deitch’s Tricks to Being Almost Homeless in New York on the Cheap!

O.K., so if you start out with a tea in the morning at Starbucks, rather than a yummy milky drink (which isn’t good for you anyway), you only have to spend $2.50 a day on caffeine, and the person behind the counter will actually say your name when calling out your order. This is really good if you’re on your own in New York, because it can get kind of lonely (sometimes the only people who talk to you are the one’s asking for money). Then, if you join the New York Society Library, at 79th and Madison, you can have a beautiful, stately, clean, quiet place to stay during the day, seven days a week—with wifi, books, and a bathroom!—for 47 cents a day. (The fee is $175 a year.) So far that’s less than three dollars! The library closes at 5:00 most nights, so you’ll probably have to spend some time afterwards in a Starbucks again, but I’ve discovered that if you order a hot water, they don’t charge you, and it makes the person behind the counter feel good, too!

OK. So you’ll have to eat. What I’ve discovered is that most places that serve soup, serve it with a roll. This is a real plus. Soup is good in the morning, good in the afternoon, and good in the evening. You’ve got to find the right places, though, for good soup (and that roll!). Toby turned me on to two Thai places in Chinatown where you can get a big bowl of Pho (with noodles, bean sprouts, and beef), for six dollars. (Don’t get the one with belly button, even if Toby says it’s good.) I can’t spell or say their names, but one place is on Baxter, just below Canal, and one is on Mott, just above Grand. That’s a whole meal. B & H Dairy, on Second Avenue right off St. Marks has amazing soups with buttered challah for under five dollars. And the Silver Moon on Broadway and 104th-ish, has soup avec pain (that’s “bread,” not “pain”) for $6.

So say you skip one meal, that’s .47 plus 2.50 plus 12.00, that’s a whole day on less than $15!

Now the thing is finding a place to sleep. I am lucky because I have people who love me who also have couches and showers. That’s a necessity in the winter, I think, though I haven’t tried out Grand Central or the Shelter establishments. Who knows? Maybe they’re great as long as you keep your boots tied on tight! I’m guessing you’ll find people there who will talk to you. I guess it’s important to have had a previous life in New York, when you were not almost homeless. Developing friendships while you’re wearing your life on your back is not that easy.

Speaking of which, there is the issue of what you carry on your back and keep in your pockets. You know when you move and you end up with a pocket full of keys to nowhere, screws, pennies, and lint? Well, that’s how it is when you do New York on $15 a day! You’ve got pocketfuls of important stuff! So you have to keep your head screwed on, because it’s a special trick, keeping things, when you’ve got nowhere to put them!

A mantra, too, is very important, I’ve found, too, for winter homelessness. One of my therapists (that’s an extra expense) reminded me of metta, which I’m using, and, guess what?, it works! It goes: May I be safe, may I be happy, may I be healthy, and may I live at ease. Just say that over and over, especially when you’re walking from place to place in the cold, and you’ll feel a hundred-million times better. Or, if you’ve only got a second for mantra, remember this: Always only apply a joyful mind.

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