The Office Hobo

Image: Evan Hughes

My kids call my office "the place where Daddy lives," and judging by the amount of hours that I spend at NeatoHQ, they're technically correct. But I do go "home" to shower and sleep - not so for The Office Hobo, who lives - and we really do mean live - at his office.

One day last winter, The Office Hobo stopped by his office late at night after running errands to find that the place is nice and quiet - "No thumping bass from the upstairs neighbors. No security guard manning the premises, either. Someone could be here all night ... and not a soul would be wiser," he wrote in a blog post over at LA Weekly. Someone, in theory, could live in that office.

Then, over the summer, after a series of financial setback and the general feeling of being tired of paying rent, The Office Hobo revisited the idea of living in his office:

This is my experiment. It is rent boycotting. It is selective homelessness. I prefer to call it "home-free" living.

On Aug. 1, 2012, I packed my bags, secured a gym membership for shower access, and moved into my office. Save for a short hiatus of apartment living during the winter, I have been living there since.

I've chosen to remain anonymous to protect my company. None of my co-workers knows I'm living here. The people I work with are wonderful people; I want neither to accept their sympathy nor take advantage of their kindness. This presents a series of obstacles, and yes, I expend great energy to accommodate their schedules.

So far, The Office Hobo has been living in his office, secretly, for over 260 days.

But how does he do it? Where does he sleep? The Office Hobo offered a set of FAQs:

1. Where do you sleep?

I sleep on the floor behind my desk.

Initially, I had a twin-sized air mattress that fit perfectly behind my desk. But that mattress has since popped. For a while, I had been using my inflatable backpacking sleeping pad, but that became more trouble than the inch of cushion was worth. So instead of purchasing a replacement air mattress, I’ve been sleeping on some couch cushions. Since I’ve done so, I’ve had no back pain and have slept like a baby. A baby in an office.

As a backup plan, I sometimes take this setup to the walk-in storage closet. While hardly ideal, this lowers the likelihood of being caught in the act of not being awake.

2. Doesn't sleeping in your office suck though?

Yes and no. There is very little traffic in the office and the hours are generally predictable. The office has its own dedicated entrance, free parking, and is located near to the necessities. It has a sink and toilet, as well as a kitchenette. But it is a shared office. There are a series of cubicles and a handful of coworkers’ schedules to keep track of. So practically it requires some flexibility on my part. But so did paying over a grand per month in rent.

It's not all easy livin', though, like when his co-worker stopped by unexpectedly:

... back in March, when my co-worker stopped by unannounced to drop off a tray of files on a Sunday. Somehow, I managed to tidy my cubicle and bolt to the staff bathroom in a matter of seconds.

It was a close call. And hiding in a unisex washroom is, admittedly, a humbling experience. But the way I see it, inconveniences like these constitute my "rent." What others pay in earnings from countless hours of labor, I forfeit in sporadic exercises of self-deprecation. Having experienced both, I can't say my situation is any worse.

My situation just requires a little extra attention to detail. When I wake up in the morning, I always return my triple-sofa-cushion bedding to the same spot, zippers facing in. My belongings — the ones I haven't given away — are stuffed in odd corners of the office, placed one at a time over the first few weeks with frog-in-a-frying-pan success. I keep the fridge clear, opting instead to over-frequent the local sandwich shop and burrito stand. Sometimes I'll even run morning errands and show up "late for work."

The Office Hobo was content and happy to live the rent-free life, but then one day, he met a woman. A woman that he wants to be with ... and wants to be with him that night. Read what happened next over at LA Weekly's Arts & Culture Blog Public Spectacle, where The Office Hobo guestblogged.

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So, if he gets caught, he'll find out what a real financial setback is. They told me years ago don't rent a house from your boss, because you could lose both job and home at the same time.

Of course, I live at my workplace now, but I'm paying the mortgage and I have a decent bed.
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