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Learn from My PT Mistakes

Juan Publico

I've been living on the fringe for a while now, doing the mobile thing different ways, and it's mostly been fun. I know this 'zine is mostly about getting other folks to unsub, and that's fine with me--we sure need more freedom in this ol' world than we have now, and getting it isn't going to be easy--but folks who haven't lived the life can get silly notions about what it's really like. Like I said, for me it's mostly been fun, but if I knew going in what I know now, I'd be a lot better off.

Starting off, I just dropped out without really thinking about it. I was tired of working for a shitty boss and not getting paid much, and dealing with nasty neighbors, and paying for schools and all that shit with my taxes. And so I just hit the road. I thought I could just wander and stuff would take care of itself. I found out real quick it don't work like that. And I got to worrying about whether I'd made it too easy for the IRS dogs to track me. Maybe the computer geeks are right and their system is so fucked up that they can't keep track of everybody--they haven't said anything to me yet, and it's been years now. But maybe I just didn't make enough for them to bother yanking me around. I don't know. But if you decide to go mobile, don't just up and do it like I did. Make a plan. Think about what you might want to do farther down the line. Sure as shit you don't want to just sit there for them to find you if they decide to Waco you.

Decide if you want to live someplace else, or if you want to be on the road all the time. If you do go mobile, think about tools and equipment and other stuff you need, and how you're gonna carry it around. Your car oughta be street legal, which means taxes and shit, but without that paperwork, things can get real ugly real fast. And think about this, do you really want to not tell anybody where you're going? What about if something happens to you or your car in Frozen Butthole, Montana--how will anybody know where to look for you? It's kinda cool to go where you want, when you want, but it ain't for everybody.

If you want to be a little less mobile, have another place to live set up before you drop out. Don't put it in your legal name. That will still get back to them easy enough. If you know somebody who will do the papers and legal bullshit for you, make a deal with them for it. It's better if the person isn't a family member or somebody the dogs know you know, like a boss or another dropout.

Don't forward your mail from your old place to your new one. Set up a mail drop. Try to find a place that's smalltime, so that they can get to know you and might tell you if somebody comes sniffing after you. A small place also makes it harder to watch without being noticed. For pity's sake, don't use the postal dogs! They're feds too, they won't think twice about blabbing everything they know to other feds who come asking questions. It'd be better if you can set the mail drop so that it goes to someplace that looks like your home address, but is really another mail drop. Maybe you can set this up with a friend you can trust.

If you think you'll need papers before you go under the radar, take care of that as soon as you can. No sense not paying The Man in April, then applying for a hurry-up passport in May. You might as well call the dogs yourself and tell them you're going PT. Decide what you want to do about getting around. If you want to be legal on the roads for a while longer, get those papers taken care of. Having wheels is damn convenient, but it makes it easier for the dogs to catch you. If you pay cash, Greyhound will get you where you want to go, and without a paper trail for the dogs to sniff. They also don't ask busybody questions about what's in your bags, so if you're carrying a gun or knife, shut the fuck up about it, don't act nervous, and nobody will be the wiser. But make damn sure it's safe, where other riders won't find it, or the dogs will do the same thing to Greyhound that they've done to the airlines, and you'll blow it for everybody.

If you have friends help you with these setups, first of all make damn sure that you can trust them. Then make fucking really sure you can trust them. Lots of people will tell you you can trust them, but what you need is someone who's mouth is locked tighter than Fort Knox, and who won't spout off to nobody, no matter how drunk or how scared. Let's face it, the dogs can really put some pressure on folks if they want you bad enough, and they'll scare the hell out of your friend if they come after you. It's hard to tell who a trustworthy person is ahead of time. Maybe somebody else living the PT life, but they might have problems of their own, and their situation might make helping you out tough. They gotta put their life ahead of yours, same as you would, so deal with it. After you find somebody you can trust, make sure they're dependable. If you need to get your mail on time, you need to tell them how important that is. I can't tell you how much in late payment charges I've racked up because a friend who said he was cool with sending my mail to me every week couldn't be bothered for days--even weeks, sometimes!--to put stamps on an envelope. I told that to other friends who said they'd help, but dammit, they did the fucking same thing. If that happens to you, chalk them up as lost and find someone else, or some other way. They ain't gonna get more reliable. (Yeah, I shoulda paid off my car and cards before dropping out. Another thing you should learn from me.)

The reason I said "make a deal" for this stuff is because no matter how much a friend says he wants to help you, if he's doing it for free he ain't gonna work too hard to help. But if there's a trade, or cash, or some other kind of deal set up, then when he craps out on his end of the deal, you can drop out on your end too. That ain't mean, that's business. You can't count on friendship or promises here--you better be able to make their breaking the deal hurt them some, too. Their life will always come first. Have some way of bumping your business up on their priorities.

If you're going to go PT, think real hard about how you're going to make ends meet. I didn't, and I'm paying for that stupidity lots of ways. I thought I'd be able to get odd jobs in places where I hung out for a bit. That happens some, but not nearly as much as I thought. You gotta get word out about what you can do, which if you're wanting to go low, makes that hard. Do you or don't you give people your phone number? Your address? How can you get jobs that the locals usually do? Unless you're a real hotshot at something folks are gonna stick with locals--you're an unknown, here today and gone tomorrow, why should they hire you? I haven't tried the migrant worker thing, mostly because I don't like being south when it's hellish hot and humid, but maybe I shouldn't be so prissy.

Mostly I been trying to earn my way working over the net. That's turned out to be lots harder than I expected. Don't believe all that crap about working online and making barrels of money. I ain't found one yet that's worth shit. Most of the stuff is a ripoff or that pyramid marketing shit, or both. Maybe I've just had shitty luck with this, but I still haven't found a real job--work that'll pay my bills, which aren't all that high. I can't work for nobody that wants me to do the IRS paperwork, and that means I can't work for lots of people. I got no problem with contract gigs, though--the folks who hire me can do their paperwork and don't need to know I don't play the slave game anymore. But one thing I been worrying about lately is how long I can do that--I mean, once the IRS dogs start sniffing around them, asking questions about me, they sure as shit aren't gonna want to hire me any more, and who can blame them? The IRS dogs are the worst of the pack.

Because I entered the life not prepared, I'm not real well set up. I've met some folks, but not many, and it's hard to know who you can trust. There are lots of things I miss, like getting together with friends or even just calling friends without worrying that the dogs are on my trail. That kind of thing can really wear you down. It sucks bigtime that I can't buy a candy bar or Big Mac without checking if that'd make the difference between making all my bills or not that month, because work's been slow. I hate not having any fucking idea how much money I'm going to make, and eating just rice for a week while waiting for a check or the next job. I hate that I didn't buy more guns when I could afford them and the ammo. I wish I woulda gotten fake ID and started building a life with it before I went PT. I wish I woulda checked into the outta country choices before dropping out.

Even for all this bitching though, I don't wish I hadn't done it. Not paying the dogs that want to control us, being free to go pretty much where I want when I want, is pretty awesome. Being able to meet my own eyes when I shave every morning feels damn good. Seeing a beautiful sunset over the Rockies in Colorado, and amazing sunrises in Florida the next week, staying where I want for as long as I want, is just too cool. Doing the PT thing is way better than being a corporate drone in a nasty colored box, no matter how much it sucks being poor. I'm not badmouthing the life, just telling you some of my fuckups so that when you decide to drop out, you won't make the same mistakes. See you out there somewhere...

I was asked to make a list of the stuff you should learn from me, so here it is.

(c) 2000


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