A man was shot on Rivertree Circle in Orlando. This area is one of the “bad neighborhoods” in Orlando. It isn’t Pine Hills or Paramore bad, but that is mainly due to the fact that the “bad” area isn’t that large. Still, this is the Americana area, which is one of the worst areas for crime in the Orlando area:

  1. Pine Hills
  2. Paramore
  3. Washington Shores
  4. Americana Blvd
  5. Semoran Blvd
  6. Kirkman Road
  7. Metro West

Hearing about that neighborhood brings back memories.

Shortly after I was divorced 25 years ago, I was homeless for a time. Friends letting me shower at their place or sleep on the couch occasionally. The amount of child support I was paying, combined with the fact that the court ordered me to pay all of the credit card debt from when we were married meant being without much money. The child support and credit cards were automatically deducted from my pay, which only left me with $300 per month to live on. I walked everywhere and only ate on the days I was at the firehouse for work. I lost 55 pounds that summer. After two months, the small amount of money I could save enabled me to save $500 for a down payment to get a buy here/pay here car and allowed me to get a second job and live in that car.

Once my income was a bit better, I was able to split a two bedroom apartment with a roommate, and the Americana area was the only one we could afford. My half of the rent and utilities was $300 a month. I just checked- the rent in that area is much higher now. A two bedroom in that area costs about $1500 a month nowadays. For a crime ridden ghetto neighborhood.

The neighborhood was so bad that delivery drivers would refuse to deliver pizza or other meals in there, so you had to go get it as take out. Not even a pizza. One of the few places that used to deliver there was a place called “Steak Out.” They have since gone out of business in Florida, but it wasn’t that the food was bad. They delivered a complete steak dinner, the meals were decent, and the prices were reasonable. It’s just that they routinely got robbed at gun point. I was able to order from them once a month or so. It was a special treat.

I once ordered a meal from there, and just as I was biting into the salad, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to discover the delivery driver standing there, disheveled and beaten. He asked to use the phone, because he said he had just been robbed at gunpoint. I immediately drew a handgun, and his eyes grew wide as saucers, and I asked him what the guy looked like. I never found him. The critter was long gone.

In short, I was broke and had to live in a shitty, crime infested neighborhood. It was the kind of place where you didn’t go outdoors at night, unless you had a death wish. I spent a year living there, and then got out.

That was a rough time in my life, but I didn’t sit around and wait for handouts. I worked at the Fire Department, and on my days off I worked a second job as a janitor at Sea World. I went to school during what free time I had and got my paramedic. That got me a $7,000 a year raise. I also quit my janitor job and got a second job working for an ambulance company, which paid much better than janitorial work. I didn’t have to be poor any longer.

Don’t give up. Hard work and a bit of smarts can get you out of whatever situation you are in.

Categories: Glory Days


BbobF · June 7, 2023 at 5:44 am

Work, perseverance, and education. Hell of a combination of factors to move up and out, eh? Thanks for sharing that — a lot of people who will never see it SHOULD. You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.

Dorothy · June 7, 2023 at 6:16 am

It’s the bit of smarts that causes most people to stumble. That and the inability to understand what is a necessity and what is a luxury.

Joe Blow · June 7, 2023 at 6:23 am

I was struck by your story, its telling about current generations.
I don’t say this to insult, but your story of struggle is not unique (I’m sure you will agree). Lots of people experience hardship and adversity at various stages in life. It provides a lesson and learning experience for most, shapes their character.
We talk today about how the younger generation has ‘never been punched in the face, and it shows!’ I subscribe to this theory as well, it manifests in many ways.
Likewise I believe many youth have never had a hardship or struggle akin to yours. School was paid for, room and board too, car at 16, prolly didn’t ‘work’ a summer job like landscaping or construction (interned at.. career oriented summer jobs that aren’t really work).
So these cohoets never had that fire temper their steel. They have not been ‘challenged’ in life up to the moment. Mom and Dad prevented pain, so they never grew up, yet turned into adults with degrees wanting jobs. Just not real jobs. They’ve never actually ‘worked’! School was dumbed down and gives them an inflated sense of self importance.
… we are sooooo fucked.

    nones · June 7, 2023 at 10:35 am

    Dang! You are describing my nephew exactly. A smart kid who rode the gravy train through all of his schooling, working at Ga. Tech then getting a job at Ga. Tech as a computer engineer. He has never experienced adversity. While I have not been homeless like Divemedic, I bought my first house in Gainesville, Fl in 1972 for $11,500. I was working in a warehouse and pumping gas for a buck sixty/hr. One time I was down to less than $1 in pocket change. I had food in the fridge, gas in the van and a $50 paycheck coming on Friday. I got a job as a carpenter for $3.30/hr, studied and took/passed the contractors state exam and learned the building trade by trial and error. I was friendly with the local building inspector, if I needed help he would come out to the job and explain what I had to do to make it right. Great guy, I owe a lot of my success to him.

exile1981 · June 7, 2023 at 6:31 am

Back in 91 I got on the wrong bus in Orlando. A few minutes later the driver stopped the bus and asked me where i was going, i told him and he told me i wanted the other bus. He made me sit right behind him and told me to not make eye contact or talk to anyone getting on the bus. I had never seen cars on blocks or burn barrels on the street outside of movies till that day.
One guy getting one took offense to my presence until the driver told him i was from Canada and lost, then he just said don’t let it happen again.

Pretty sure that area was called Carver Shores. What ever happened to it?

    DMLMD · June 7, 2023 at 11:25 am

    Contrast that to my first trip to Japan, visiting my brother who worked there for a few years. He wrote his address down in case I got lost and needed a cab, told me to take lots of money because things were expensive and walk about 5 blocks that-a-way to the Ginza… at 11PM (my 11AM). Zero thought of crime. Zero. Wish that were true here.

    Divemedic · June 17, 2023 at 10:02 pm

    Still a crime ridden cesspool.

EN2 SS · June 7, 2023 at 7:28 am

What I’ve learned in 74 years?

Don Shift · June 7, 2023 at 7:57 am

With all the crap that the judge did to you and the way women have treated you, how did you not go on a killing spree? I’m being hyperbolic, of course but…

dc · June 7, 2023 at 10:37 am

Sort of similar tale, got out of Navy in ’88. Went to JC and ran out of money a few months later. Couch surfing, Floor Surfing… After ten months of that I returned to the Navy. It sucked. All of it.

    dc · June 7, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    Forgot to mention something germane to OP. I wound up for three months in ORLANDO at the RTC as an E6 with nothing to do. I hung out at the Executive Airport at the 4th Fighter Group Club doing my best to drink and mess around excessively. Would sometimes hook up and walk down Semoran Blvd back to RTC. Better than couch surfing…

JimmyPx · June 7, 2023 at 12:36 pm

I’m sorry that you went through that. I went through something similar when my wife of 16 years left me for another guy and the “Family Court” raked me over the coals even though I didn’t do anything wrong.
I went from living in a nice house to living in my RV yet had the same job making the same money. Meanwhile my Ex and her “loverboy” were living it up on MY money.
Honestly between the divorce and the judge giving my Ex full custody of the kids and letting her cut them out of my life was my “red pill” moment. I realized that what you are told is lies and there is no justice in any “court of law” in this country today.

Bad Dancer · June 8, 2023 at 5:57 am

Thank you for sharing your story and encouragement. You’ve done so several times and each one is a needed reminder there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Though not young, I am younger than many here I expect and am right in the sweet zone to get crapped on by the generation before and generation below. All I ever hear was how back in my day X was so much harder. Or from my students and younger employees how I just don’t understand how hard Y is.

Hearing from someone who got kicked in the teeth and worked through it back up to a life that, other than not having a farmstead, sounds like an ideal one to me really means a lot. More than you know.

Paulb · June 8, 2023 at 11:40 am

I get supremely pissed off when able bodied people cry about money and refuse to do exactly what our host did and bootstrap.

40 Hours a week? I hit that shit by lunchtime on Wednesday even today.

I think every parent wants their kids to not go through the bad things they went through, but at the same time when the kids have it easier and still complain (human nature being what it is), it IS harder to listen. My father was disabled badly when I was a kid. I think it was hard for him to watch me be a lobsterman, a bar bouncer and pump gas, roof or do farm labor all in the same week.
But you know, if you love someone who is in poor health, the saying ‘At least you still have your health’ becomes a massive positive mantra, because you CAN choose to bootstrap rather than become a socialist and a mooch and complain on a professional basis.

Max Wiley · June 8, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Key points:
1) You didn’t sit around and blame others and feel sorry for yourself.
2) You understood the concept of delayed gratification.

Too many out there these days don’t even understand those on a conceptual level, much less the application thereof.

Aesop · June 10, 2023 at 10:32 am

You weren’t poor.
Poor is a mentality. And once you adopt that attitude, it’s hard to recover from it.
You were broke.

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