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  • When I got back to Portland, I managed to get a couple of jobs in my first day and a half there, one in a little diner as a waiter, and the other in a nicer restaurant, working in the kitchen, and as a general all-around handyman. Both were full-time gigs, one was at nights and the other during the day, so I was kept pretty busy for the next few weeks in Portland.

    I initially found an abandoned gas station that I slept in, and would clean up in a regular gas station's restroom in the morning. I think this lasted for about a week, before I was discovered by the police and told to take up residence elsewhere.

    I had established myself at the restaurant I was working at well enough that they gave me a key so I could go in early to do some painting. I wound up going in after closing and sleeping until early morning, when I would wake up, wash myself up in the kitchen sink, and get to work. I worked hard, there. I painted the whole outside of the restaurant, and helped out around the kitchen with anything they needed – washing pots and dishes, salad bar prep, whatever needed to be done.

    Things went so well in Portland that I wound up staying there for much longer than 30 days. But, eventually, the owner of the restaurant discovered what I was doing, and said that she had to let me go. It had been close to two months at that point, and I decided that it was time to start making my way down to San Francisco.

    It took me several days to hitchhike down there, and I was quickly flat broke again. By the time I arrived there, I had hardly eaten anything in two days. I had the address of a friend from Connecticut who was now living in San Francisco, and my plan was to stay with him for a few days when I got there, then turn myself in to the authorities at Treasure Island.

    When I got there, nobody was at the apartment – a neighbor said that Jack had gone on a trip and didn’t plan to be back for several weeks. For whatever reason, I didn’t ask the neighbor for any food and they weren’t offering, but at this point, I was desparately hungry. I’d seen a nice restaurant down the street on my way in, and dug my best clothes out of my backpack and decided that I would go down there, act like I had money, order a nice meal, then offer to work it off.

    I apparently was convincing enough that they sat me at a table, and I ordered a full meal, along with some wine, and enjoyed every bit of it. When I was finished, I went off my original plan. I was too tired to try to work the meal off, and decided I was going to try to just get out of there without paying. I acted like I couldn’t find my wallet, then told them that I had just gotten into town and was staying with a friend right down the street, and could go get my wallet and be right back.

    They apparently believed me, and were just about to let me go when a police officer happened by on his beat, and noticed what was going on. When the manager said that this nice young man (me) was just going to go down to the place he’s staying to get his wallet and will be right back to pay his bill, the cop volunteered to escort me down the street.

    I played along at first, and walked about a half block with him, before I decided to just come clean. I told him that I didn’t have any money, and that I’d been trying to cop a free meal. We stopped, and turned around and started walking back towards the restaurant. When we got back there, we sat at the bar while he asked me for my driver’s license or other form of I.D. I knew then that the whole gig was up.

    Amazingly, in 2 months of wandering all over the country, getting thrown off of buses, kicked out of abandoned gas stations, working a number of different jobs, hitchhiking all over the place, I had never been asked to produce I.D. Yet, as I realized that, I also experienced a tremendous sense of relief. I wouldn’t be running anymore.

    I figured as soon as they discovered that I was AWOL from the Navy, they would contact the navy and the Shore Patrol would come to pick me up. Sure enough, the cop got off the phone a couple minutes later, handed my license back to me, and said, “They tell me that you are AWOL from the Navy – going on 60 days?” I said that was correct, and he said that we would just have to sit there and wait until he heard back from his dispatcher on what to do with me.

    He bought me a beer to drink while we waited! We had a good talk. When he called back in, he told me, “The Shore Patrol said to take you downtown, and they’d come get you whenever they had time. They’re apparently really backed up right now.”
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