Think You Could Handle Being a Hobo? Take the “Hobo Handbook” Test!

Navigating the railways, mapping bus lines, hitching rides. Dealing with hunger when you don’t have a nickel to chew on…and debating the freshness of that suddenly appetizing roadkill (hey, it happens!). Surviving frostbite; avoiding jail-time; and the joys of dumpster diving. The hobo lifestyle’s no easy street – but it’s one hell of a thrilling road to follow.

Think you’ve got what it takes to live a life of true simplicity? A world of few guidelines, devoid of materialism….and/or the guarantee or toilet paper or meals? Below, a few questions from the “Hobo Aptitude Test” in The Hobo Handbook to see if you’re cut out to live life by your own rules.

1) It can’t be stressed enough how dangerous hopping freight trains can be. Accidents can result in amputations and are often fatal.

You’re thinking:

1. Never thought it would be otherwise. I’m like a cat. No worries.

2. I thought that might be the case. I’ll check it out, talk to some people that have done it, and take it from there. If it’s too crazy, I’ll find another mode of transportation.

3. Whoa, that doesn’t sound so good. I was hoping for something different. Don’t think I’ll be trying this.

4. Of course it is! What nutjob would think otherwise? I like my life the way it is.


2) Despite what many might think, hopping freight trains and living a hair outside of society’s reach isn’t a constant fast rush of excitement, bouncing from one place to another. There’s a lot of waiting, for hours and even sometimes days.

You’re thinking:

1. Whatever, I’m awesome at making the most of the time that I have. I can entertain myself for hours.

2. I kinda figured that. No biggie as long as I have a good book.

3. That sucks, but what’re you gonna do? Can’t control life.

4. There’s nothing I hate more than waiting. I lose my mind just waiting in line for a cup of coffee. I think I’ll find another way to get around.


3) A lot of the people you’ll be meeting are a bit more “out there” than the people you met at the poetry slam who you thought were “out there.” Most folks are good, but like anywhere—now even more so—people can be . . . “challenging.”

You’re thinking:

1. That’s just what I’m looking for.

2. I can handle whatever comes my way.

3. Hmmm . . . I was kinda hoping not to meet anybody.

4. Forget it, just the thought creeps me out and makes me want to watch a Disney movie instead.


4) Dining on the road can be monotonous and a little rough around the edges.

You’re thinking:

1. I’m unfazed. Food is just another word for nourishment, and tastiness is just an unnecessary luxury. I could eat peanut butter and rice cakes till the cows come home, just rice cakes if there isn’t any peanut butter; if there aren’t any rice cakes, I’ll eat the crumbs from the bottom of the bag, and if even those are all gone, I can always catch a grasshopper.

2. I’m not too worried. I can make do, and don’t need anything too fancy. Though I’d go a little hungry before dumpster diving.

3. Well, how rough are we talking?

4. Forget it. I live for gourmet grub, and minus that there’s just no reason for me to push forth.


5) There’s a mystique surrounding the hobo making him something akin to the lone cowboy who has to keep rambling, moving off into the sunset. The reality is more that you’ll be cleaning out somebody’s basement and hiding in a lot of bushes while waiting for a train.

You’re thinking:

1. That’s awesome!

2. Well, not quite what I was expecting, but things can’t always be rocket ships and fireworks.

3. On second thought, I think I’ll pass.

4. Can’t say the idea ever occurred to me to put “romantic” and “hobo” in the same sentence in the first place.

* * *

If you answered predominantly “1′s,” pack your bag, because there’s a train on its way; mostly “2′s” and this hobo thing might be a pretty good idea for you; mostly “3′s” and there are some good hobo movies you could always watch; and a few “4′s” and you already know where you’re at.

And for the rest of the HOBO APTITUDE TEST, make sure to pick up The Hobo Handbook - because you never know where that road will take you!

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