Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Don't wanna be a bum / ya better chew gum

According to experts on the subject, a hobo travels to find work, a tramp travels but doesn't work, and a bum neither travels nor works. I guess that makes me a tramp, since I'm lucky enough not to need to work. (My Social Security check auto-deposited today. Yay!) Or maybe that makes me a retiree hobo.

As I was reading on the subject of hobos and tramps, I ran across an article about the hobo ethical code. Bet you didn't know they had one. I didn't.

At the 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis, a strict ethical code was established for all hobos to follow.
1. YOU DO YOU. Decide your own life, don't let another person run or rule you. 
2. SHOW SOME RESPECT. When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times. 
3. DON'T BE AN OPPORTUNIST. Don't take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos. 
4. GET A JOB. Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again. 
5. BE A SELF-STARTER. When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts. 
6. SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals' treatment of other hobos. 
7. BE MINDFUL OF OTHERS. When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as badly, if not worse than you. 
8. DON'T LITTER. Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling. 
9. LEND A HAND. If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help. 
10. PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE. Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible. 
11. BE COURTEOUS WHEN YOU'RE RIDING THE RAILS ... When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member. 
12. ... AND WHEN YOU'RE NOT.  Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard. 
13. HELP OUT THE KIDS. Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
14. SAME GOES FOR HOBOS. Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
15. LEND YOUR VOICE. If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts!
There might be a little conflict between not letting anyone rule you and having a set of rules you're expected to follow, but you get the idea. I think it all boils down to not being a bum.


  1. Sounds a lot like the van dweller community to me.

  2. I was recently reading "How to be a Hobo" and at least from the authors first person perspective those rules are no longer adhered to. I've always been intrigued by the Hobo community but it seems as though the younger generation is far more concerned with sponging as much as possible with no concern for those that follow. I'm so glad that the vandweller community is sticking more closely to the previous generations code of ethics.

  3. Rebel Rebel, how could they know?
    Hot tramp, I love you so!

    1. You hobo humpin' slobo babe / get off, get off, get off of me