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Following the Rules

Experiences in Growing a Beard

It’s three days before the homeless experiment, and I’m sitting on the same train I ride every morning writing this into an iPhone.

In an effort to blend in with my future people, I started growing a beard, but I overestimated my ability to do so, and I’m pretty sure most people can’t tell.

Alex Berman growing a beard

Pictured: Eight days growth.

When Neville Medhora did his homeless experiment on the streets of Austin, he talked about how his mindset changed almost instantly.

He said he became a scout. Neville would look around at street corners and benches and think “I could sleep here,” and it tore him up; he could feel failure happening.

My plan for this weekend

I’ll ride the train south wearing dirty clothes and not showering the day before. I’m going to perch outside a theater near other homeless people, and I’m going to make friends, or at least try. I’ll beg for change all day, and sleep on the street all night.

Alex Berman in Mailchimp monkey hat

I’ll have to wear a disguise to avoid recognition.

There has to be something to the generic homeless person’s life of failure – to their inability to hold a real job, and to end up on the streets.

When I wanted to move to New York, a lot of people told me it was too expensive and I’d never make it, but the poor and the immigrants living in NYC were my inspiration.

“If they can come here and thrive with less than $5 to their name,” I thought, “it should be easy for me.”

Two weeks after moving here I had a great paying job in my dream industry, was saving massive amounts of money, and had the beginnings of a circle of friends, but it doesn’t feel like enough.

I want to get into the mindset of failure and find out what it actually takes to be homeless. I’m about to see my worst case scenario played out over the course of a weekend, and I’m ready to make it happen.


P.S. My beard itches.

Next Post: Check out what happened during my 28 Hours of Homelessness.

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