READ the Book

Teenager's Guide to Running Away


By Mrs. Amous Anon


So how long did it take you to come back to this book?  How bad did it get?  How many more bruises on your soul did you receive?  Are you serious now?  Are you ready?  You've visited the self-help section and have obeyed my rules?  Obeying rules that make you a better person aren't really rules are they?  Read on.  Get ready.  Be prepared.  

This little book is the ultimate guide to running away.  Now wait, before you think I'm crazy, let me explain.  I know that anyone can be successful if they are given the right tools they need to succeed.  This book is just that; a no nonsense approach to a subject that kids are need to be informed about.  Stories, truth, and checklists help kids decide if running away is a plausible choice for them.  My support website is also available at www.teenagersguidetorunningaway.com.

-Amous


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: RULES

Chapter 2: THE WHYS OF IT ALL

Chapter 3: BEFORE CONSIDERING RUNNING AWAY

Chapter 4: WHAT MUST I HAVE?

Chapter 5: WHAT DO I TAKE WITH ME?

Chapter 6: WHAT DO I CARRY IT ALL IN?

Chapter 7: WHAT NOT TO BRING

Chapter 8: THINGS TO CONSIDER

Chapter 9: PREGNANT?

Chapter 10: WHERE TO LIVE

Chapter 11: GETTING AWAY

Chapter 12: BUDGET AKA HOW MUCH MONEY YOU WILL NEED

Chapter 13: DAY BEFORE YOU LEAVE

Chapter 14: WHAT NOT TO DO

Chapter 15: CHECKLISTS

Chapter 16: BE SUCCESSFUL

CHAPTER ONE

I’VE ONLY GOT A COUPLE OF RULES

FIRST.  If you are UNDER the age of 16 PUT this book DOWN and go to the self-help section of the book store and find a book about getting along with your parents.  It isn't going to happen.  If you are UNDER 16, you can't get a job, so running away is NOT an option for you.  If you decide to run away against this little bit of advice, KNOW that you WILL end up as a prostitute selling yourself to some disgusting person just to get something to eat.  No, that won't happen to me, you say.  Really?  By law, you can't work unless you are 16 years of age.  PERIOD.  So how else are you going to eat?  I guess you could sell drugs, because that is safer.  Or steal, because that will make you a good person.  Again, put this book down and go get a self-help book on how to get along with parents.

If you are 16 or older, read on.  But be forewarned...I'm not nice.  I don't sugar coat ANYTHING.  This is real.  This is honest.  This book is filled with information you will need in your life if you choose to run away.  

SECOND.  Yes, I have more than one rule.  If you have any sort of substance problem, be it alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, coffee, energy drinks, or ANYTHING that you HAVE to HAVE to get through the day, put this book down and go to the self-help section and find a book on overcoming addiction.  Why?  Because if you have to have something, you will do anything to get it.  Your cigarettes are addicting and expensive.  You aren't going to have money to buy these things.  So that means you will probably do ANYTHING to get these things.  Back to the prostitution.  Do you really want to have sex with some sweaty man just for a pack of cigarettes?  And drugs, they are even more expensive.  If you are hooked on something, get off if it before you even consider running away.  If you have to have that $35 cup of designer coffee and your parents are paying for it, seriously, why are you running away?  

THIRD.  If you are taking any medications that you need to live, SERIOUSLY consider where the money for those prescriptions is going to come from.  My family has insurance and our monthly prescriptions run around $100.  Without insurance, it would be around $1,000 a month.  If you NEED medicines to function, you will have a really hard time getting the money for them.  My daughter takes anti-seizure medicine every night.  Without it, she would have daily seizures.  She can't live without her medication.  Diabetes, seizure, bi-polar, anti-depression, etc. medications are expensive.  

If you have braces, this isn't a reason NOT to run away.  Just one that will take some thought.  I mean really, your parents shelled out $4,000 for your TEETH.  Chances are they have paid upfront for all the treatment you will need.  That's how orthodontists work.  They bill all of the services in the beginning.  You should be able to continue with your treatment, if you live close enough go to the same orthodontist.  Most orthodontists don't allow you to transfer your treatment.  Some places have more than one orthodontist in the same general area, but few spread across the country.  

I had a friend who ran away when she was 15.  She had two kids by the time she was 18.  She was living in Section 8 Housing.  The State was paying for a lot of her bills.  She was saving up her money to get her braces removed.  Eventually, she saved up the money.  I'm not sure her life turned out the way she wanted it to.  The last time I saw her, she was the assistant manager at a small shoe store at the mall.  A single mom making $9.00 an hour.  Probably not the life she envisioned when she ran away. Why did she run away? She didn't like the way her parents were trying to control her. She didn't like that her parents were racist. She didn't like a lot of things. After she ran away, my guess is that she didn't like being raped in a park and getting pregnant, either. At least at home she was safe...or safer.


CHAPTER TWO

THE WHYS OF IT ALL

Which brings me to another subject...why do you want to run away?  Did you know that by law your parents don't have to entertain you?  They don't have to give you everything you ask for.  They don't have to understand you.  They don't have to do anything EXCEPT provide a place for you to live, food, clothing, and an education (which the government provides, they are just responsible for making sure you get to school.)  If your main reason for running away is because you don't get along with your parents?  Seriously?!?  If everyone got along with their parents we'd all live with them forever.  Parents don't want you to stay any longer than they legally need you to stay, which is 18 or when you graduate from high school.  

If your parents don't like your boyfriend...that's not a reason to run away.  That's just their opinion.  They don't have to think like you.  They don't have to love like you.  If your boyfriend is getting you into bad stuff, maybe they have a POINT.  That doesn't mean they are RIGHT!  

My husband did drugs when I first met him.  I told him that I didn't think he should do them anymore.  Did he listen to me?  Why should he?  It was just my opinion.  HOWEVER, if he wanted to be WITH me, it was either sober up or find someone else.  Did he?  Yes.  If the answer was no, then I'd be married to someone else.  When you run away and the person you run away with hasn't read this book, then you are in trouble.  If they  have a substance problem, then guess who is going to be helping their habit?  YOU!  But, baby, if you love me you'll do this just this once.  And you've become a prostitute for your boyfriend's addiction.  Because having sex for drugs once will get you enough dope to feed your boyfriend's habit forever.  Dream on.  

It isn't pretty living on the streets.  It isn't glamorous.  It isn't fun.  It's the real world.  It's responsibility.  Been there done that.  I've had many friends who have also been there done that.  We'll talk about their stories later.  

There are real legitimate reasons to run away.  Those reasons are only a couple and they have to do with your parents not providing you the things mentioned above.  If it is a situation with abuse, I've been there.  Getting the crap beat out of you because it is Thursday sucks.  They have state agencies to deal with that.  I know you don't want to break up the family...seriously...is it a family?  

Parents with substance abuse problems.  Moms with boyfriends who like young children.  These are valid reasons for getting away.  But you need to think about what you are leaving behind.  If you have younger siblings, what will their lives be like without you there?  It sucks to be the one that gets dumped on.  

One of my biggest regrets in life has to do with my best friend who remarried a predator.  He took her far away from me, sexually abused her two young daughters and when she found out, she kicked him out and got a restraining order.  That worked well.  He came back after her oldest child had left for school, and strangled her.  She was too far away for any of her family to help.  I wish I could have done more.  I wish the system would have done its job.  But sadly, sometimes it doesn't.  

You can't make your parents sober up.  You can't make them stop hitting you.  You can't really even hit back because that only makes them madder.  But read on, there are things you CAN do.  And know that it isn't you.  If you are being abused sexually, physically, or emotionally, you are only the prop in someone else's messed up world.  You will get away, some day.  You will break the cycle.  I had a student tell me once that he was going to show his dad.  He was going to make more money, be more successful, and be more than his dad ever was.  I informed him of the stark reality of life.  The only way to show up your parents is to be a better parent yourself.  PERIOD.  You can't really do that at 14 or 16 or 18 or 20 for that matter...

Sometimes it's bad.  I know that.  It took my brother years to be able to eat at a dinner table with the family.  At my house the faster you ate, the less likely you would be to be hit.  I met these three kids once.  The State wouldn't take them away from their parents, because they were being provided for.  Yet, living in their trailer with no electricity or water, the oldest child had written for an English paper, "The thing that makes me most sad is when daddy hits little Billy so hard that he can't eat his sandwiches."  The parents were providing the children with all they were required to provide: food, shelter, and clothing.   Sad that we can't choose our parents.  Sad that sometimes it sucks.

I've had many a homeless teen and adult living with me.  I had a girlfriend whose husband kicked her out of her home.  She was living on her back porch.  I went and got her the minute I found out.  My house is open like that.  I don't have room for everyone. I wish I did. Maybe one day, I'll have a house big enough. Not that you would like the rules at my house any more than you do at yours.

In my house the rules are pretty simple: No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes, no soda-that crap is expensive and addictive, no coffee-also addictive, no dating until you have a driver's license-if you can't drive away from a situation, bad things can happen. No sex until marriage. PERIOD. Babies need a mother and a father, who are committed to each other. If you want to argue that with me, stop and look at your family. You must bring all prospective boyfriends or girlfriends over for dinner BEFORE your first date. Why? If they can't get along with the family, we don't want them in the family. Plus, by having them over, we are showing that you are important to us. If they do anything to harm you, there will be consequences.

Bedtime is 10:00 on school nights, 11:30 on weekends. Church attendance is mandatory, though I don't care which church you go to, as long as you go once a week and hopefully to something youth related. My internet is filtered, so no bad stuff comes through. School is mandatory, passing is expected, though I don't expect straight A's.

Daily exercise is also required. No sitting on your butt all day doing nothing. Even if it is a walk around the block or a class at the YMCA, you need to be doing something, EVERYDAY. Chores must be completed BEFORE you do anything fun. And FYI, my children clean my entire house and do their own laundry. They have daily and weekly chores. They are also expected to help with the cooking and clean-up afterward.

Once a week we do something together as a family. Nothing trumps this. NOTHING. No game, no date, no movie, no lame excuse. NOTHING. You are expected to participate, even if you've had the worst day ever, you can just sit and enjoy being a part of something. When you are in a bad mood or good mood for that matter, there is to be no cussing and no disrespect; mainly because I'm going to respect you and expect the same in return.

If you get mad and stomp off to your room and slam your door, I'll take your door away. Why? You don't have the $100 to pay for a new door and I wouldn't want you to owe me that much money. We make rules and you don't follow them, I don't take stuff away. I don't take away your TV, computer, phone, or games; no, why do that? Instead, your bedtime is 8:30 p.m. That means 8:30 in your room, lights turned off, no electric devices, and no books. I don't care that you have a test the next day. I don't care that your favorite show is on. 8:30 PERIOD. Why? Because if you are having trouble obeying rules, then you must need more sleep and more time to think about what the rules are and how to obey them. Plus, if you are being combative, I don't have to deal with you. I can enjoy my evenings with people who want to be nice and respectful.

Rules are rules not to keep you in a cage or a box, but to keep you safe. Telling someone they are doing something wrong or stupid shows you care. Being there for someone shows you care. Calling someone stupid or only pointing out their flaws is cruel. I'm not cruel, I'm honest. I don't call names, I point out facts. I care enough to tell you that what you are doing is harmful and wrong.

I once had a cutter living with me. I think my acceptance helped her. I didn't judge or get angry when she came to me all cut and bloody. I just cleaned her up and gave her love and support. My husband was a cutter. I know that it is a way to cope and an addiction. One of my greatest accomplishments in life was when I took my husband's razor and added a string to it and wore it as a necklace. He gave it to me because he trusted me. He was done with that part of his life.

I don't hold things against you because you do something stupid, we all do stupid things and we aren't perfect. I just expect you to do your best the next day. I may not always like you, but I'll always love you. And most importantly, if you screw up today, tomorrow is another day, in my house anyway.

But, in the meantime, in your house, you can make things easier for yourself.  Don't make it a combat zone.  Learn to love yourself and stop being so MAD all the time.  Anger is not a pretty thing.  You never see a star on TV get all pissed off and you think...ooohhh sexy.  Anger is something that you carry around with you on purpose.  You choose to be angry.  No, you say, they make me angry.  NOPE, you CHOOSE to react to what they do by becoming angry.  

Hate is a nasty thing.  In sign language, hate is signed by taking your middle finger and flicking it with your thumb, like you are flicking off a booger.  You flick away from yourself.  Do it.  Hate.  Hate.  Even in sign language you are trying to get rid of it.  

If you don't believe me that hate and anger are evil nasty things, then I have a task for you.  I want you to go with your parents/guardian/whomever is in charge of taking care of you, to a warehouse store, like Sam's or Costco.  I want you to go to the baking isle.  Pick up a 50 pound bag of flour or sugar.  Now carry it around the store.  The WHOLE time you are shopping.  You can't ever set it down or rest it on your shoulders, pride rests on your shoulder, not anger and certainly not hate.  Carry it in front of you.  See how long you can carry it around without getting tired.  Yeah, I know you buff guys out there say, hey, no problem; I can do this for 30 minutes or an hour even.  Try carrying it around, without help, without ever putting it down, for 24 hours.  

At some point it will become too heavy.  At some point you will WANT to put it down, to get rid of it.  And, at that point, you will choose to let it go, set it down, and walk away from it.  (Unless you need flour or sugar at home, then put it in the cart).  You need to do the same with hate and anger.  Choose to let it go, set it down, and walk away.  But I'm so pissed at how they have treated me.  So what?  You can't go back and change the past.  My brother is 42.  He's still pissed at my mom for how she raised us.  REALLY?  A woman tormented by an alcoholic, beaten, and berated, tried her best and you still are mad at her for what she couldn't do?  GET OVER IT!  How you wonder?  

Find something or someone to believe in.  Yes, I'm talking the big guy upstairs.  Not Harry, he's just the landlord, I'm talking about God.  I believe there is a church out there for everyone.  EVERYONE.  Find a group of people who share your beliefs. Good believes. Not stupid ones, like the ones that believe they should kill all the crappy people in the world. A group with a common good and a common belief who will accept you for you. If you find a group and they don't accept you, find a different group. Again, there is a church out there for everyone. If you don't know which one to try then open the yellow pages, close your eyes, and point. If that one doesn't work out, try again the next week. When I found my church, I was driving down the street and saw two cute guys in business suits. I tried to pick them up. Instead, they gave me a card that said, "You're too cute to smoke!" with the church address on the back. I thought, "I don't smoke." But went to the church that Sunday. I was walking into church the first Sunday and someone in the parking lot said, "Oh, you're new, welcome." I felt welcomed. I felt like I belonged. It felt like home. Though I'm the only one in my family who goes to my church, I'm happy it's my church. One of my really good friends loves her church.  She loves it because it welcomes her and her life partner/wife of 12 years.  It's good to have something to believe in. It is good to feel accepted.

Something else to consider, if you choose to run away, there is no guarantee that everything will work out.  Life doesn't come with a money back guarantee.  If you run and go back, there is no way of telling how bad it will get.  My sister ran away.  When she came back it was worse than when she left.  She was grounded for 8 weeks and every freedom she had was stripped away from her.  That's because her parents cared about her.  The girl she ran with, her parents didn't even care that she had left.  Well, her dad did.  Her mom just shopped more.  When she returned, her parents didn't discipline her at all.  They didn't care enough to let her know they were worried and scared.  Parents react that way sometimes.  They tried not to make things worse by pretending it didn't happen.  You and I both know this doesn't work.  

When I was 14, I'd gotten REALLY drunk.  Bottle of vodka, three beers, half a bottle of peach schnapps drunk.  At around 84 pounds, this was not a good mix.  When the police brought me home, I lost consciousness.  At that point, I probably should have gone to the hospital, but not at my house.  I woke up the next morning, clueless and with a MASSIVE headache.  My mom's response?  She hid all of the aspirin.  My step-dad, I learned later, had stayed up with me all night.  He'd held my hair back as I vomited for hours.  I have to say that was one of the few acts of kindness he had ever shown me.  That was the last day I touched alcohol; partly because I could have died, and partly because I didn't want my step-dad to have anything else to hold over me.  

I know it's bad.  Like I said, been there, seen that.  It isn't easy being a kid.  It just isn't.  You have your ways of doing things and your parents have theirs.  Choosing to run away is a choice.  It may be a good one; it may be a horrible one.  This book isn't to help you make that choice; it's to prepare you for what you need when you make that choice.


A good way to think about it is to ask yourself if you are a refugee?  A refugee is a person who, because of things going on around them are forced to leave their homes in the hopes for a better life.  Refugees usually take only the clothes on their backs, because stuff doesn't matter, safety matters.  They do this because it is their only option.  So I guess you have to ask yourself if you are a refuge or a combatant.  A combatant is the person who makes it impossible for others to be near them.  Think the bad guys with guns.  Or bad attitudes.  Which are you in your household?  Are you in a constant state of combat or are you a refuge?  


Just to recap my ramblings, valid reasons for running away - REFUGEE:

1. Physical abuse

2. Sexual abuse

3. Severe neglect; lack of food or shelter


Reasons to NOT run away - COMBATANT:

1. Parents don't understand you

2. Parents are mean

3. Parents don't like your friends

4. Any other stupid reason you can come up with.




CHAPTER THREE

BEFORE CONSIDERING RUNNING AWAY

Preparation is key.  You wouldn't plan a trip to Europe and say, "Hey, it's Wednesday, let's go to the airport, buy a ticket, and fly to Europe.  That would be crazy!  And expensive!  Tickets have to be purchased at least a month in advance or the price goes WAY up!  You can't just go to the airport and hope there is a flight.  You have to do some research.  Find the best dates to fly, the best prices, find places to visit, places to stay at.  It's quite a production just planning.

Likewise, if you are planning on running away, notice the word I just used, planning.  You have to plan.  There are three things you MUST do before even considering running away.  Now, I'm not one of those people to tell you to do stuff and then not explain how to do them.  When I tell you to do something, I want you to be successful at it.  Take heed, I do know what I'm talking about...sometimes.  

FIRST.  Get a job.  You are going to need the experience.  Who knows, maybe being out of the house will help the situation at your house.  There are a couple of things you need to know about getting a job, well, more than a couple.  It isn't as easy as it sounds.  Getting a job, that is.  If it were that easy, there wouldn't be any unemployment or underemployment.  Think about what you would like to do after school and on weekends.  Choices are few for those under the age of 16.  You are looking for a job that is year-round.  NOT seasonal!  I know that working at an amusement park is great fun, but they aren't open during the winter.  

When looking for a job, consider a store that has a uniform.  It will be SO much easier to work somewhere that provides clothes.  This means less stuff for you to worry about having to buy or carry with you.  Also, working at a restaurant/fast food place has an additional benefit: food.  Working somewhere that gives you free food is a plus.  Reminds me of the time the local prostitute came into Arby's when I was working there.  She asked if we had any old food, "you know the kind that sits in the window too long."  We did.  I had thrown out some Beef 'n Cheddars a few minutes before.  I dug them out of the trash and she ate them.  She used our storage shed to turn tricks.  We found out because of all the used condom wrappers.  There had to be hundreds of them in there.  The lock on the shed had only been broken about three weeks.  I wonder where she is now.  I can't even imagine.  If she is alive and had a kid, I'd be teaching him in high school right now.  Scary thought.  

Below are some basic categories to choose from:


Restaurant (Sit down and eat place):  

-Waiter (taking orders, serving food, taking care of money, caring for customers).  Usually 18 or older.  

  • Your salary depends on how much money people leave on the table.  Usually you have to share your money with the host and busser.  

  • Total interaction with customers; you will need to be nice, polite, and friendly at all times.  Not to mention being nice to the host and busser.  You want them to seat and clean your tables.  

  • Usually has some sort of uniform.  May be store provided shirt and jeans or dress pants and shirt and tie, depends on the restaurant.  Stay away from restaurants that go for the sexy dress scene.  

  • Some money skills needed; adding, subtracting.

-Busser Table clearer/cleaner (cleaning off other people’s messes)

  • Basic salary, sometimes tips, split with waiters.

  • Little interaction with actual customers.  

  • Usually wears store provided shirt and dress pants or jeans and a t-shirt.  

-Host (greeting people, telling people where to sit, answering phones)

  • Basic salary, sometimes tips, split with waiters.

  • Total interaction with customers; you will need to be nice, polite, and friendly at all times.  

  • Will need nice clothing, sometimes store uniform like others.  

Typical day:  A lot of moving around, helping people.  Lots of interaction with others.  Always need a happy face and positive attitude.  Usually open late on weekdays and weekends.  



Grocery Store (Includes big chain super stores):

-Cashier (some places you have to be 18 because of handling money).

  • Basic salary.  

  • Total interaction with customers; you will need to be nice, polite, and friendly at all times.  

  • Usually wears store provided shirt and khakis or dress pants.  

  • Money skills needed; adding, subtracting.  

-Bagger (paper or plastic, put the eggs in their own bag! Retrieving lost shopping carts, sometimes in the rain).  

  • Basic salary.  Sometimes you get tips when you take groceries out to the car, if stores permit it.  

  • Some direct interaction with customers.  For the most part, you are doing your own thing; you will need to be nice, polite, and friendly at all times.

  • Usually wears store provided shirt and khakis or dress pants.  

-Stocker (put out new products).  

  • Basic salary.

  • Usually this is at odd hours, like when the store is closed.  There is VERY little customer interaction during that time.  When the store is open, expect to be putting away toilet paper and someone asks you where the cat food is!

  • Usually wears store provided shirt and khakis or dress pants.  

Typical day:  LOTS of standing in one place, smiling, being helpful to people.  Always need a happy face and positive attitude.  Usually open late on weekdays and weekends, some stores open 24 hours.  



Fast Food (Order your food at a counter or drive thru, may have tables to sit and eat):

-Front End includes drive thru (order taker, order filler, cleaner of tables).

  • Basic salary.

  • Total interaction with customers; you will need to be nice, polite, and friendly at all times. You will have to deal with customer complaints.  

  • Usually wears store provided shirt and pants.  

  • Money skills needed; adding, subtracting.  

-Back End (usually 18 or older, food maker, prep, clean up).  

  • Basic salary.

  • Little to no interaction with customers.  LOTS of teamwork with front end; you must be able to work well with others.

  • Usually wears store provided shirt and pants.  

Typical day:  A lot of commotion, especially around meal times.  Usually open late on weekdays and weekends.  



Retail (Usually clothing or specialty stores, like sports, dolls, crafts, etc.):

-Sales (Help people pick out stuff to buy).  

  • Salary + commission; you make more money when people buy more stuff.

  • Total interaction with customers; you will need to be nice, polite, and friendly at all times.

  • Nice clothing is a MUST!   Most stores give discounts and you can shop the clearance racks for outfits.  This however, will cut into your saving money!  

-Cashier (ring up what people buy).  

  • Basic salary.

  • Total interaction with customers; you will need to be nice, polite, and friendly at all times.

  • Nice clothing is a MUST!  Most stores give discounts and you can shop the clearance racks for outfits.  This however, will cut into your saving money!

Typical day:  Subject to REALLY slow times!  Waiting for customers to come in to the store.  Can be really busy during holidays or sales.  Open mall hours, not late; open weekends.  

Yes, there are other places to work.  I've just listed the ones where you could easily get a job.  Now, I'm not assuming you know anything about actually getting a job.  Hopefully, you've done your research.  You've called places close to your house, preferably within walking distance to see if they are hiring.  Make sure you try places closest to home first.  You may not always be able to depend on anything other than your feet.  If you choose a job that requires transportation, such as on a bus line, make sure the line runs late.  I had a job once that I roller-bladed to.  It wasn't much fun to roller-blade in the rain!  

They're HIRING!  What now?  Run down there and ask for an application?  Well, what are you wearing?  Employers take one look at you and judge you immediately!  You don't get a second chance.  You need to be presentable!  I'm not saying a three piece suit, unless you have one, but a shirt and tie or a nice dress would be appropriate.  If you don't have any "nice" clothes, then pick out your best shirt, iron it.  NO words or pictures on your shirt!  Wear your best clean pants.  Tuck your shirt in.  Wear clean shoes.  Be presentable!  Remove ALL visible piercings, including earrings.  

Also, girls, NO short skirts or skimpy shirts!  What part of you are you trying to sell???  Respectable is just that, respecting yourself!  Being sexy isn't appropriate as a first impression.  DON'T wear perfume.  Some adults are sensitive to smells.  Keep make-up to a natural look; nothing too dramatic.  

Plan of Action:

1. Walk up to the counter; ask to speak to the manager.  Scared?  You're contemplating running away and it scares you to talk to an adult?  

2. Introduce yourself.  

3. Extend your hand.  Shake firmly, but not to the extreme!  A handshake supports the hand, not squeezes it to death!  

4. Make eye contact.  

5. Smile!!!  

6. Ask for a job application.  I always tell kids to ask for an extra, just in case you make a mistake.  

7. Find an empty table and sit down and fill it out.  

8. DON'T forget to take a pen!


It is important that you fill out the application completely! Don't leave blanks.  If you don't know the answer to something, don't leave it blank!  N/A means it doesn't apply, like "College" or "Previous Jobs."  Putting N/A for your school address is silly; of course your school has an address!  

There are several things you will need to bring with you.  I've prepared a list below.  Since I was 16, I've carried around a list with this information.  Now-a-days, if you have a fancy phone, you can just put it all in as contact information.


1. Your complete address, including zip code!  If you don't know your address, look at a letter that comes in the mail.  Zip + 4 is the additional numbers found after the first 5 zip code numbers.  Place all this in your phone as "Home."  

2. Phone number.

3. Information about your current high school.  Include complete address and phone number.  You may need the name of your principal.  Place all this in your phone as "High School."  

4. Information about your previous middle school.  Some applications ask for this, some don't.  Include complete address and phone number.  You may need the name of your principal.  Place all this in your phone as "Middle School."  

5. Previous employment.  Have you done anything work related?  It can include NOT being paid, like community service.  (Not the court ordered kind!)  Babysitting, lawn care, etc.  You will need to know the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all those you've worked for.  Some applications will ask for email addresses as well.  If you don't have any, you don't have any!  Place all this in your phone as "Employment."  

6. References.  You are going to have to pick three people who know you to list as references.  There are some simple rules about this!  The person cannot be related to you or swapping fluids with someone who is related to you.  This means boyfriends or girlfriends of parents or siblings.  The person MUST be over the age of 18 and hold a full time job.  Teachers are the best people to pick.  Be sure to ASK the teachers before you list them!  Use their school address and phone numbers.  Neighbors, church people, etc. are good references.  Now I know you are wondering about the swapping fluids remark.  I had a student who listed me as their second reference.  The first was her dad's girlfriend.  The employer told me that the first reference, the girlfriend, went on and on about how lazy this girl was.  How she caused trouble and stayed out too late.  She never cleaned her room, argued with her father.  It was really sad!  And to think, all I had to share was that she was in class on time every day and always did her work!  Don't pick someone who knows details about you that are personal, like how you leave your dirty socks in the living room!  Place these in your phone under the person's name.  

7. Written statement.  This isn't an English assignment.  Applications may have a part for you to write a statement.  This is to see if you can form a complete sentence.  So write one, before you begin filling out the application.  Why do you want the job?  Type this up and place it in your phone under "Why."


Most applications will have the information listed above.  Use your best penmanship!  PRINT!  Fill out the first copy of the application.  If you make a mistake, use the second copy of the application and turn it in.  You can bring white-out correction fluid if you are worried about making too many mistakes.  Turn it in to the manager.  Thank him and tell him you look forward to hearing from him!  At your age, having a resume and cover letter would be nice, but it isn't necessary.  

How many applications will you have to fill out?  I don't know.  I do know that you will continue to fill them out until you get a job!  Filling out the application will get easier!  

Now-a-days, applications can be filled out online.  Some stores have kiosks with computers at the front of the store to apply online.  Dressing nice still applies!  Someone is always watching that kiosk!  


Job Application CHECK!  What's next?  If they like what they see on the application, then a job interview is next.  If you don't hear from them after a week, call and ask to talk to the manager.  Don't wait for them to call.  They get busy and sometimes don't have time to call people.  When you get them on the line, ask if they've had a chance to look at your application.  Tell them that you are looking forward to working for them!  

If they want to hire you, they'll schedule an interview.  Pick a time that works for you; a time when you can get there easily without rushing.  Wear something similar to what you wore when you went in to fill out the application.  Arrive EARLY to the interview.  Don't be late!  Make sure that during the interview you breathe!  You're going to be nervous, that's understandable.  

Smile, nice handshake, make eye contact!  Answer the questions to the best of your ability.  Don't be afraid to ask them to repeat a question if you didn't hear it or to answer "I don't know" to a question.  If they ask you how much you want to be paid, tell them minimum wage if it is your first job.  If you've had a real job before, ask for $.50 more than your previous job.  If they ask what hours you can work, be honest.  Tell them the times you would like to work and are able to work.  If you know your parents won't want you to work on a certain day, let them know.  

At the end of the interview, they usually ask if you have any questions.  The answer is yes!  Ask the interviewer what he likes about his job.  Ask what the best thing about working at the company is.  You want to know about the place you are working.  My first job, I found out that most employees had worked there over 5 years.  That meant something to me.  I knew that those people liked working there and maybe I would too!  

The last thing you should ask is what's next.  When can you expect to hear from them?  They may not offer you a job right there.  They will probably have to call your references.  There might be another interview.  It's good to know what to expect.  Don't go to one interview and expect to get the job!  You need to keep filling out resumes and calling UNTIL you GET a job!  

I need to put some reality in here.  I recently read a report that said 3 out of 10 18-21 year olds have a job.  This means two things: 1. These are high school graduates with jobs and 2. This means 70% of them do NOT have jobs.  Who's taking their jobs?  College students and college graduates.  My best friend had a Bachelor's Degree in English and worked at a bookstore chain making minimum wage.  Jobs are hard to come by these days.  So where does that leave a run away without a high school diploma?  Getting a job AFTER the college graduates have been hired, AFTER the high school graduates have been hired, might not leave many jobs for someone without a high school diploma.  Not to mention the LARGE number of older people returning to the work pool.  Those 50-60 year olds you see cashiering and waiting tables are taking the jobs from those 18-21 year olds.  But let's be honest, who do you think an employer would want to hire?  An inexperienced kid or a mature adult with work experience...AHEM...WORK EXPERIENCE!

Why do you need a job?  That's easy; you will need the work experience.  You are going to have to plan to either take your job with you to another city or find another job.  You will always get the job over someone with no experience if you have experience.  If you are wondering about how to take your job with you...there are McDonalds all over the USA.  You can easily transfer to another city.  So pick a company that has franchises.  

Don't pick Mr. Monkey's Pizza Palace, that's run by some guy who lives down the street.  I'm not seeing a Mr. Monkey's on every street corner.  Plan on working a minimum of six months before you consider quitting.  It takes time to figure everything out.  Changing jobs looks bad on future applications.  Stick it out!  If working as a cashier isn't working out, see what other positions are available in the store.  If this location isn't working for you, see if you can transfer to another store.  

What to do with all that money?  Put EVERY penny you make in the bank.  DO NOT buy anything.  Nothing.  Not that new game.  Not the new phone.  Not the new gadget.  NOTHING.  No cigarettes, no booze, NOTHING.  You will need all the money you make.  

Do not keep cash lying around.  It can get spent or worse, stolen.  Keep it safe.  A bank is safe, a shoebox is NOT.  Get an account with the ability to take the money out easily using an ATM card.  If you can do this as a stand-alone account, great.  If you need a co-signer, because of your age, your parents will have access to your account.  That's scary.  But most banks require a co-signer for any account if you are under the age of 18.

Direct Deposit is your friend.  Direct deposit will allow your employer to directly deposit your paycheck into your account.  No check that gets lost, no check coming in the mail that parents can take, no cash lying around that can be stolen or worse spent on crap you don't need.  



SECOND.  Get involved in your education.  Why?  Well, if you are planning on running away from home, you are also running away from school.  Running away from a high school diploma.  Hey, maybe school isn't for you, but having a high school diploma or the equivalent to one IS.  

So that means you will have to pass the GED test to get your high school equivalency diploma.  This is a REQUIREMENT.  You want to be a successful runaway.  You want to be someone when you grow up.  The only way to be someone is to be smart.  I'm not talking about being the smartest kid, but an educated one.  You're reading this book, so you've got to have some brains, right?  Don't pretend you'll be then next high school dropout millionaire.  That ISN'T going to happen.  

Pay attention in your classes.  Pay attention to your teachers.  Ask them questions, after school, about the requirements for the GED test.   Ask them if they have any additional study materials.  ASK.  Teachers, believe it or not, have already graduated from high school.  Whether or not you respect them, it's still a fact that they have more education than you.  Does that mean they are smarter than you, not necessarily, but they do have MORE EDUCATION than you.  So don't be afraid to ASK.  In the back of your mind, be thinking... job reference!  

I've seen a lot as a teacher.  I've seen more than I've wanted to see.  I've been on the other end of the phone as a student tried to commit suicide.  I've been the person of trust to a student who told me her father was having sex with her.  And another who was raped.  I'm not a therapist.  But I am someone to trust.  You might just find a teacher you can trust.  

Taking the GED tests usually costs between $65 and $85.  Some places it is more, some less.  Each state has their own requirements.  Some states require you to be 18 OR 16-17 with an official letter from your school saying you have withdrawn. You will probably need a parent or guardian to sign up to take the test.  You will need your driver's license as a valid form of identification.  Google GED Test and your state for more information.  Example: GED in Iowa.  

Know that the GED is not simply one test, but a series of tests on various subjects.  It might be easier to just graduate high school.  



THIRD. Get involved in school activities.  WHY?  Well, if Debate team meets until 5:00 every night and then you work until 10:00, you spend exactly 2 hours of that night at home.  And that's time to do homework.  The more you are away from home, involved in other good things, the better your life will be at home.  

Personally, my life at home was crap.  I remember telling my mom I'd been raped and she told me I deserved it because she told me not to date that guy.  Funny, I'd broken up with him, so he got my brother stoned and come upstairs and raped me while I slept.  Yeah, I really deserved that.  After that, I did some pretty stupid things.  I drank a good year of my life away.  I tried to kill myself more than once.  I developed an eating disorder.  

I did a lot of stuff, but none of it got me away from my house.  If anything, I was more confined.  So when I turned 16, I got a job, literally, the same month.  I started working all the time.  When school started back, I wasn't allowed to work on week days.  Fine, I joined as many clubs as I could.  I became a part of everything I could.  I was away from home almost every night doing school related things.  I worked Friday nights, all day Saturday and Sunday.  I was never home.  

My parents couldn't really object.  I think they were happy to not have me around.  I didn't really make their job of being parents any easier.  I was happier.  That didn't mean that when I graduated from high school I stayed any longer than I needed to.  I was gone a month after graduating.  I moved 2,000 miles away to attend college.  

My cousin, on the other hand, had pretty much the same hell I had.  She dropped out of school, got pregnant, twice.  She did so many drugs that both of her boys have severe learning disabilities.  She even got her son hooked on drugs when he was 12.  She never fed her younger son any dairy products; so that his teeth were so weak they rotted out of his mouth.  Great mother huh?  Well, now she's trying, but the damage is done.  The selfishness hurt her children more than it hurt her.  He son doesn't have teeth.  How exactly is she going to fix that?  Right now, she's 40 and going back to school to be something in her life.  Her boys are so messed up.  It's just sad.  

You can choose the path you want to take, but basically, you want to be a successful person.  You want to be somebody.  You can't do that as a high school dropout, homeless person, prostitute, drug addict, or selfish person.


CHAPTER FOUR

WHAT MUST I HAVE?

1.  A driver's license.   To get a job, you will need a picture ID.  It does help to be able to drive.  

2.  Social Security Card.  REQUIRED when getting a job.

3.  Birth Certificate.  REQUIRED for lots of things.  It tells people who you are.  You must have this to get your driver's license.  On a side note:  if you have a passport, even if it has expired, it is valid identification to get a job if you don't have your driver's license.  And really, a passport?  I'm almost 40 and have NEVER even been out of the USA.


CHAPTER FIVE

WHAT DO I TAKE WITH ME?

I had a friend stop by to see me before she ran away.  She had a suit case full of posters that were once hanging on her bedroom wall.  She didn't even bring a change of clothes.  I really wasn't surprised when she called me up a year later.  She was living in a motel with her new baby.  When I got to the hotel, her mom was there.  Her mom was SO happy to have her little girl back.  The sad thing was that this girl ran away because her parents didn't understand her.  

She was prostituting herself just days after running away.  The baby?  Well, she wasn't stupid.  She used protection.  And then she met this guy.  Let's call him John.  John was different.  He became a regular.  She fell in love with him.  Seriously???  She got pregnant and well, John was already married with a kid of his own.  After the baby was born, she didn't have anyone to babysit for her and no money coming in, it sucked.  So what did she do?  She went back home.  Do you think her parents understand her more now?  This friend made one big mistake after another.  Confusing sex for love was probably the worst one.  The baby did bring her back home.  I guess at 15 that's a good thing?  She never did finish school.  That is just sad.  What was so important, running away, wasn't really that important in the end.  

If the only reason you are running away is to get back at your parents because they are mean to you, STOP reading.  Running away is not a way to get back at your parents.  Running away is a choice when all the other choices have run out.  It is a decision that you will make that will change your life forever.  


You will need the essentials:  Clothes, underwear, socks, shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste, all that stuff.  We aren't talking a suitcase full.  That isn't going to work.  We are talking a school backpack.  Something you can carry around with you.  We aren't talking two bags and a carry on.  What you can carry isn't what you will be carrying.  You will be carrying what you can quickly and easily stow away for safe keeping.  But I've got too much stuff, you say.  Seriously, why are you considering running away?  

When I met my husband, he had three boxer shorts, two shirts, jeans, and a pair of shorts.  He had one pair of shoes.  He wasn't homeless.  He wasn't a run away.  It's just what he had.  So that's a good place to start.  A couple pair of underwear, bring sexy if you haven't planned well, you'll need them.  A couple shirts, bring one with a collar if you've got it.  Getting a job requires you to look nice.  If you don't have a button down shirt, guys, a polo works.  If all you've got is t-shirts, get one without words or pictures.  A pair of jeans should be WORN on the day you leave.  A pair of shorts or khakis is also essential.  DO NOT bring pants or wear pants that hang down and show off your underwear.  For one reason, that's just gross.  For another reason, you aren't going to have access to a washing machine, so do you really want people seeing your drawers?  A knee length, or longer, skirt for girls would be appropriate.  No booty shorts, short skirts, see through crap, spaghetti straps, etc.  Again, why bring sexy unless you plan to use it?  

I remember one summer day, I passed by the homeless guy who always sat on the bench at the end of the street.  I thought it was awful that this guy was wearing pants on in 95 degree weather.  I stopped and bought him a pair of shorts.  He yelled at me when I tried to give them to him.  Mental illness is a common disease among homeless people.  Really, who chooses to be homeless?  However, the next day he was wearing the shorts.  I felt horrible when the weather started to get colder.  I don't know what happened to his pants.  The best intentions, I guess, aren't always the best intentions.  

Cell phone?  Well, if you don't want your parents to find you, don't bring your cell phone.  If you want a connection with them, bring it.  You need to know and understand that the cell phone is their property.  They own it, they are paying for it, and you are merely using it.  Leaving with it could be considered theft.  Sad, but true.  Your parents technically own everything that you think is yours.  By law, it's theirs.  I once had a kid who left, he took all his "stuff."  His mom took him to small claims court, and got everything.  EVERYTHING, even his clothes.  It was sad.  Sometimes parents suck.  

Laptop?  Is it yours?  Who paid for it?  A gift from someone?  I personally think a laptop and all those gizmos are things to get stolen or lost. You can't eat your cell phone. You can't sleep in your laptop. Come to think of it, sleeping on it isn't a good idea either.


CHAPTER SIX

WHAT DO I CARRY IT ALL IN?

The backpack should be dark color, something that isn't easy prey for thieves.  Nothing fancy.  I remember when my family went to an amusement park.  They left all their bags by a picnic table, because no one steals stuff at an amusement park.  Of course, they took my husband's expensive backpack and my sister's flowery bag.  They got a new camera, my birthday present, my husband's iPhone, and some money from my husband's bag.  They got a $40 from my sister-in-law's bag.  They didn't, however, get the old ratty bag that was my mother-in-law's bag.  It only had a couple hundred dollars in it.  It didn't look like it had anything of value in it.  That's how your backpack needs to look.


CHAPTER SEVEN

WHAT NOT TO BRING

1. Sexy clothes.  Again, WHAT are you going to use them for?  If you are planning on prostituting yourself, then bring them, otherwise, modesty will be a better way to draw LESS attention to you.  A homeless kid is easy prey for sexual predators.  I had a friend tell me about how she was living in a park and she woke up with this guy on top of her.  He promised not to kill her if she just let him, "do his business."  There are no walls in a park.  There is no door to lock when there are no doors.  

2. Your pet.  I know you love Mrs. Fluffy Cuddle Bunny.  But, seriously, you are going to have enough trouble taking care of and feeding yourself.  If your dog is truly your dog, then find her another home to take her in.  By being "your" dog, you supply ALL the food and medical treatment needed.  If the dog or cat merely sleeps on your bed and mom and dad foot the bill for food and vet, then the pet ISN'T yours.  A big 'ole dog isn't going to protect you.  They found the Doberman running loose in the park, they found her body in the trunk of his car.  Dogs can't protect you against dangerous people.  

3. Electronic things.  They will just get lost, stolen, or pawned.  Better off leaving them.  You don't need to spend your time worrying about your stuff.  You need to be worried about you.

4. Things that don't fit in your backpack.  If it doesn't fit, you can't take it.  You'll need to keep your hands free.  You don't want to look like a runaway, carrying a pillow and blanket...not a smart idea.  Nor is taking a sleeping bag.  I saw this 10 year old on a bus once, he had his whole life, including a teddy bear, pillow, and blanket clutched in his arms.  He was running away.  Obviously.


CHAPTER EIGHT

THINGS TO CONSIDER

I think that nowadays people think they have a lot of friends because they have 200 pals on their social networking sites.  I love a comment that I saw on Pawn Stars.  The grandpa asked the grandson what he was doing.  He said he was telling his friends what he was doing.  "Friends?" the grandfather asked.  "How do you know they're your friends?"  The grandson couldn't answer; he just said they were his friends.  The grandfather then declared, "How many of them could you call up on a Saturday and ask them to help you move and they would actually show up?"  The grandson said none.  "That's how many of them are really your friends," the grandfather said.  Or something like that.  

Don't think that your "friend" who lives in Portland, will be there for you when you show up at his door one Friday.  You aren't popular because 600 people follow your tweets.

Know that when you are on the run, there will be no postings on walls, checking emails, tweeting, texting, or other such communication.  All electronic communication can be traced, tracked, followed.  You will have to unplug from all of that nonsense in order to stay off the grid.  You may want to try it for a week.  Disconnect from the wired world.  That does include computer games, if you were wondering.  Your social standing won't exist when you're a runaway.  

In your life there is only one person you have to take care of.  That person is you.  I'm not talking about being selfish; I'm talking about taking care of yourself.  You can't plan on running away and taking anyone or anything along that will need you.  You can't support anyone else, not your girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend or pet.


CHAPTER NINE

PREGNANT?

If you've found yourself in a situation where you are pregnant, you've got 9 months to figure it out.  Running away because you are pregnant is NOT a sane idea.  You will need care for the baby.  Note, I did not say YOUR baby.  It is the baby.  Being a parent is a full time job.  If you are selfish enough to get pregnant and want to live your life, aka run away, you shouldn't be a parent.  There are lots of people in the world who can't have kids.  Just because a sperm connected with an egg in your vagina, doesn't mean you are lucky, special, or even ready to be a parent.  You are going to have enough trouble taking care of yourself.  

My daycare bill is $1,000 per MONTH.  Just for one kid.  Can you afford that?  Probably not and that DOESN'T include diapers, food, clothes, doctor's visits, and all the other expensive things that come with having a kid.  If you think the baby's daddy will be there for you...where is he now?  Is there a ring on your finger?  Did he respect you enough to wait until you were in a committed relationship and ready to have kids?  If the answer is no, it's time to think of the "A" word.  Not the one that kills the kid, but the one that gives the kid a chance in life by giving it to two parents who will love and provide for them.  

If your parents are forcing you out because you are pregnant, then adoption will probably be the best option for you.  LOTS of parents looking for children to adopt will help you with a place to live and getting the care their future child will need.  

Think about running away AFTER the kid has a new home.  SERIOUSLY consider getting on birth control that will last several years.  Studies have shown that girls or women who give a child up for adoption or abort a child will get pregnant again within a year.  Why?  Guilt?  Stupidity?  Not learning their lesson, who knows.  When you are pregnant, your life is no longer about you.  

When I was in 7th grade, one of my friends got pregnant.  She did drugs, starved herself, everything she could to lose the baby.  Really, how sad.  When the baby was born, she would blow pot smoke in his face to see how funny he looked stoned.  I'm not sure where she is, but that kid could easily be any of the brainless kids I've had in my classes.  What person doesn't want their kids to succeed?  Hum, maybe you live with one.  That doesn't mean you have to be one.  

There are many resources out there for you if you are pregnant.  My personal favorite is www.itsaboutlove.org.


CHAPTER TEN

WHERE TO LIVE

Location, location, location.  It's all about location.  If you're thinking I'm going to go to Hollywood and make all my dreams come true.  Great!  If your dreams include living on the streets, being a prostitute, and not having a future.  That's my nightmare!  You aren't going to go to Hollywood and "Get Discovered."  It isn't going to happen.  If your YouTube video hasn't gone global, maybe it isn't in the cards for you.  If you want to be a celebrity, get an education.  RARELY do you see a star who was once a runaway turned millionaire.  It just DOESN'T happen.  Sometimes a porn star makes their way into a daytime TV soap, but that's the extent of it.  

So pick a city that isn't too huge.  Do some research.  You will need to find a place to live and a place to work.  If you followed the rules, you should have a job that will move with you already.  So look online and see what other cities have franchises.  Call them up and see if they are willing to accept transfers. It is important to do some research about city/county laws.  In some cities, pan handling is illegal; begging for money will get you thrown in jail and shipped back home.  You are going to want to keep a low profile once you leave.  You don't want to get to draw attention to yourself from pimps, cops, predators or drug dealers.  If the city is too small, you'll stick out.  Blending in is important.  

If you don't have a place picked out, you can look online for shelters.  Keep in mind that a city large enough to have a homeless shelter will have homeless people.  Crime, drugs, and problems come with homelessness.  A shelter, however, is free to live for the night, if they have room.  Not all shelters are the same.  Some have a goal of returning runaways to their parents or to foster care.  Some love you forever and help you succeed without sending you back.  Do your homework!  Find a safe place to go!

Look for a location that has a weekly hotel rental.  Why?  It is all inclusive.  You don't have to buy a bed or lamp.  You don't even need to buy sheets or towels.  You don't need to pay for utilities.  That is a BIG plus.

Utilities are expensive.  Our electric bill this month was $590.  Just for one month.  Most apartments and utility companies (water, gas, electric, and phone) require credit checks to even sign up.  If you don't have good credit or any credit, you will need to pay extra deposits just to sign up.  So figure $100 deposit for just the basics, that's $300-$400.  Usually, if you pay on time for the next six months, they'll apply the deposit to your bill.  That is IF you pay on time.  One day late and you lose $100.  

On the flip side, if you rent a hotel room by the week, it is cheaper than by the day and usually they are small efficiency apartments with little kitchenettes.  What is a kitchenette?  A small kitchen with sink, stove, smaller refrigerator, dishes, etc.  Nothing fancy, but everything you will need to get by.  

Having to set up a house is expensive.  I remember my first shower at college.  I got out and thought, "Where are the towels?"  I had to use paper towels to dry off and then I had to take a bus to Target to buy a $14 towel.  Who knew towels weren't included with tuition.  Not to mention that most hotels will provide you with soap, shampoo, and conditioner.  The bottles are little, but that means you don't have to bring the stuff with you or pay to buy it!  

It's important that when you call you ask if they have kitchens and what else is provided, like bedding, towels, soap, shampoo, etc.  You can also ask if they have TV with cable, Internet, and telephone and how much each costs.  It is VITAL that the week before you leave, you call to see if they have rooms available.  It would suck if after all your planning, the place of your dreams has no vacancy.

But you are still wondering WHERE?  Well, there is a website out there that will help you out.  It is a site that lists sex offenders based on location.  Basically, you type in your location and the site shows where the sex offenders are located.  How does that help you?  Someone with a criminal record will have a tough time getting a job.  The area might not be one you will feel safe in.  The website is www.familywatchdog.us.  My grandfather was on this list, before he died.  It's a great site.  

I had a student do some research before he left for college in Texas. Having never gone to Texas, he didn't know where to look for a place to live. After checking out the site, he found a safe place. He sent me an email after moving. He said that the parts of the city full of sex offenders were basically crack houses. Even though the rent was cheap, the location wasn't safe.

Weather?  Have you ever been in snow?  It's cold.  My freshman year of college, my only shoes were Birkenstocks sandals.  Birkenstocks don't play nice in three feet of snow!  They suck in rain too.  How was I supposed to know?  Easy, I could have done some research.  Does it rain a lot?  Is it always sunny?  What you bring will depend on what the weather is like and where you are going.  Jeans and a t-shirt will be what you wear on the day you leave.  Jeans and a t-shirt are very nondescript and comfortable.  Appropriate for any weather.  Plus, jeans are bulky and easier to wear than carry.  

How are you going to get around the city once you get there?  Be sure to pick a city that has public transportation.  I DO NOT advise taking a car with you.  Cars cost lots of money.  Insurance is EXPENSIVE.  Gas is EXPENSIVE.  Parking is EXPENSIVE.  Fixing a car is EXPENSIVE.  You are going to be trying to feed yourself, not your car.  It is cheaper to pay $100 a month for an unlimited bus pass than it is to provide all the stuff your car will need.  Also, whose name is the car in?  If your parents are letting you use THEIR car, it isn't yours to borrow and you'll go to jail for stealing their car.  Trust me, it is an expense you DON'T need.  And if you're the kind of kid who is always willing to help others, someone will want to borrow your car and chances are they won't return it in the same condition they borrowed it.  

Public transportation is the way to go.  You will want to have enough for two months of transportation saved up.  If you need to travel looking for a job, you will want to be able to get around town to find a job.


CHAPTER ELEVEN

GETTING AWAY

OK, so you've planned, done all your homework, followed all my advice.  Seriously, I hope you didn't just skip to this part and EXPECT to be successful.  Start over on page one if that's the case.  You aren't that good to think you can skip to the end and everything will work out.  

How are you going to get away?  You need to find the cheapest way to get away.  You don't need to waste money on a plane ticket.  Bus will probably be the cheapest, but who knows, you need to do some research.  A lot of times there are discounts for summer trips.  During national holidays, 4th July, Christmas, etc., prices will be more expensive.  Some places have trains that have discounts during certain times. Hitchhiking is NOT a good idea. You never know who will pick you up or what their intentions will be. Some colleges have ride boards, where you can share the cost of getting somewhere. Again, be careful with whom you trust to take you anywhere.

There is on one right way to get away.  There is no magically formula.  There is no perfect moment or time.  It is a plan.  You need to formulate a plan and be prepared.  It needs to be a rational decision, not a pissed off reaction.  Poor judgments lead to rash decisions.  You are a smart kid.  You are planning your future.  It isn't Ready, Fire, AIM!  Though, that's how your brain works sometimes.  Plan, Prepare, Succeed..


CHAPTER TWELVE

BUDGET AKA HOW MUCH MONEY YOU WILL NEED

Speaking of money, how much do you need to take?  Well, you should have done your research by now.  You should know how much a ticket costs.  You will need enough for a ticket there and a ticket back.  WHAT??? A TICKET BACK???  Yes, nothing would suck more than to get somewhere and realize this isn't what you wanted and you don't have enough money in the bank to get back.  People change their minds.  You will need enough for a place to stay for two months, minimum.  

What if you get there and the job you thought you had falls through?  You will need money to fall back on.  Two months' rent should be plenty to get by until you can get a job.  You will need money for food, transportation, and other things you may need.  At this point, things you want, like the new iPhone or game, don't really matter.  You need to NOT buy anything that you don't NEED.  Need, as in to survive.  If it is a want, put it back.  You can't eat an iPhone.  

With regard to food, if you work somewhere that provides food, there's a good chance that two meals a day will be eaten at work.  Food shouldn't cost more than $50 a week if this is the case.  I'm not talking about steak and sushi, but fresh fruits, veggies, and Ramen noodles.  It's cheaper to eat in than it is to eat out.  

What about all the stuff that will happen that you can't plan for?  Easy, save for those things.  I'd say at least $100 per month MINIMUM for those things.  You can also figure in to the any health and beauty things you might need.  Deodorant when yours runs out, make-up, toothpaste, mouth wash, etc. all cost money.  Did you think they just magically appeared in your bathroom when yours ran out?  I think my kids think that sometimes!


CHAPTER THIRTEEN

DAY BEFORE YOU LEAVE

You need to inform someone you trust of your intentions.  A friend, a parent of a friend, your boss, someone who is responsible.  Your druggie boyfriend?  Have you been reading this book at all?  You should have dumped his sorry butt long before you got to this day.  You don't need to take any body's habit with you.  

To take it a step further, you need to leave your parents a note telling them your plans.  WHY?  My parents don't deserve to know where I am or what I'm doing.  You're probably right.  But I have to tell you, my biggest fear in life is that my children will be kidnapped and I won't be able to see them again.  If you're thinking GREAT!  I can scare the crap out of my parents, then running away isn't for you.  

This isn't a tool to get back at your parents or to make them feel bad.  This is to help you get out of a bad situation and become successful in your own life.  You aren't playing a game, it is your life.  You don't have to give them a step-by-step itinerary, but a "Hey, mom, I just can't stay here anymore.  I'll call you when I get to where I am going." would be nice.  That way, they aren't calling the police and wasting tax payer money on a bogus report.  There is no guarantee that they won't call the police and file a missing person's report.  That's up to them.  If they care, I would again wonder why you are running away.

You need to get your clothes and belongings ready to go.  Clean clothes need to get packed.  The next chapter contains checklists of things you need to have ready to go.


CHAPTER FOURTEEN

NOT TO DO

FYI:  Things you don't want to get busted for...


There are two basic categories for committing crimes.   Misdemeanor crimes are pretty bad, but not as bad as felony crimes.  Misdemeanor's punishments are usually less than felonies.  Now, if you commit adult crimes, expect to be tried as an adult.  Which means more time in the big boy, big girl jail.  Below are a few you need to know about.


TRUANCY:  Skipping school.  

CURFEW VIOLATIONS:  Check with your city.  Some places require those under the age of 18 to be home at a certain time.  Others restrict driving after a certain time.  Note: being outside or on the street is NOT at home.    

DELINQUENCY:  Doing something stupid or crazy, like mooning your principal or other such antisocial behaviors.

LOITERING:  Being in one place too long.  Many places have signs restricting loitering.  Sitting in front of a store or in a park for an extended period of time is breaking the law.  

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF:  Messing with other people's stuff.  This includes graffiti and breaking windows among other things.  

TRESPASSING:  Being on someone else's property.  LOOK for signs.  If it says "Private Property" it is, stay away!

PANHANDLING:  Asking people for money, begging for money or food.  

SOLICITATION:  Asking someone to assist you in a crime.  Helping break into a store or pay you to have sex.

PROSTITUTION:  Having sex for money, drugs, a place to stay, or other stupid things.  I love that the dictionary defines it as:  "unworthy use of a talent or ability."

SEXTING:  Sending sexually explicit pictures or words to another person.  If you are under the age of 18 and you send a picture of yourself or receive a picture of someone under the age of 18 it is considered child pornography.  

DRUG POSSESSION:  Having drugs on you, or being in the car of someone who has drugs.  EVERYONE gets busted and charged if someone in the car has drugs.  DO NOT get in the car with someone if you don't know what's in their pockets.  

INTENT TO SELL:  If the person you are with has a large supply of drugs, expect to get charged with this also...

SHOPLIFTING:  Stealing stuff from a store that you didn't pay for.  

.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHECKLISTS

Checklist 1


Are You:

16 or older

Yes or NO


Clean and Sober

Yes or NO


Not on any life threatening medications.

Yes or NO

Have You:

Gotten a job

Yes or NO


Gotten involved in school

Yes or NO


Signed up and participated in school activities

Yes or NO


If you answered NO to any of these questions, you aren't ready to even consider running away.  Go to the self-help section of your local library or bookstore and get a book on how to follow directions.

 

Checklist 2


REQUIRED Stuff:

Valid Driver’s License

Yes or NO


Social Security Card

Yes or NO


Birth Certificate

Yes or NO


Bank Account with ATM Card

Yes or NO


If you answered NO to any of these questions, you CANNOT run away.  Go to the self-help section of your local library or bookstore and get a book on how to follow directions.  Required means REQUIRED.  Not an option.  Not just a happy thought or wishful thinking.  These are items you MUST have!


Checklist 3


REQUIRED Education:

Information about getting your high school equivalency

Yes or NO


Picked a testing location and date

Yes or NO


Studied for the test

Yes or NO


Signed up for the test

Yes or NO


Passed the test

Yes or NO


Score



Once you've taken and passed the GED, you can move on to the next checklist.  If not, keep studying!

Checklist 4

REQUIRED Research:

Have you picked a city?

Yes or NO


Does your job transfer?

Yes or NO


Have you found a place to live?

Yes or NO


Have you checked for sex offenders?  

Yes or NO


Is it located on a public bus line?

Yes or NO


Do they have any rooms available?

Yes or NO


Do rooms include a kitchen?

Yes or NO


What’s included in the room rental?  



Bedding, towels, soap, shampoo, local phone, TV, etc.  



Are there homeless shelters close by?

Yes or NO


How much does a ticket there cost?

$


How much does a ticket back cost?

$


How much is weekly rent?

$


How much is a weekly bus pass?

$


Check price frequently, they may change.  You don't want to pay an extra $100 because prices went up and you didn't pay attention.


Checklist 5


REQUIRED Savings:

Weekly Hotel Cost (8 Weeks Worth)

$


Weekly Transportation Cost (Bus) (8 Weeks Worth)

$


Ticket To City

$


Ticket Back

$


Food Costs ($50 per week-4 Weeks)

$200.00


Stuff Money ($25 per week-4 Weeks)

$100.00


MINIMUM IN SAVINGS:

$


This amount of money is REQUIRED.  You need to have a certain amount of money put aside so you DON'T end up having to prostitute yourself for the things you need.  This is NOT a guarantee that this is ENOUGH money.  Things happen.  If you decide to stick all your money in your underwear drawer and your dad steals it for dope, I hate to say I told you so, but I TOLD YOU TO GET A BANK ACCOUNT!   If you don't have enough saved up, KEEP SAVING!  Work MORE!


Checklist 6


Get Packing:

Black backpack.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing too big.

Yes or NO


Underwear (2-3)

Yes or NO


Socks (2-3)

Yes or NO


Pair of shorts (knee length or longer)

Yes or NO


Pair of khakis or dress pants

Yes or NO


Skirt (knee length or longer)

Yes or NO


Shirts (2-3 without words or designs)

Yes or NO


Dress shirt or polo

Yes or NO


Light jacket

Yes or NO


Jeans

Yes or NO


Shoes-Tennis shoes

Yes or NO


Extra pair of shoes

Yes or NO




Cold Weather:

Warm Jacket

Yes or NO


Sweater/sweatshirt

Yes or NO


Hat/Gloves/Scarf

Yes or NO



 

Hygiene:

Toothbrush

Yes or NO


Toothpaste

Yes or NO


Dental Floss (DON’T Neglect your teeth!)

Yes or NO


Deodorant

Yes or NO


Feminine Products (Enough for 1 month)

Yes or NO

If Needed:




Medications (Two months supply)

Yes or NO


Contacts-with supplies

Yes or NO


Glasses

Yes or NO




Other Stuff:


Yes or NO



Yes or NO



Yes or NO


This list is just the necessities.  Don't over pack.  Take only what you can carry and safely stash away.  Pack CLEAN clothes!  To pack most efficiently, you might want to check out a YouTube video on Army Roll and Packing Tips.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN

BE SUCCESSFUL

So, you're 14 and you're still reading this.  I hate to say it, but you're stuck.  Stuck at home that is.  You can still do things to make your life at home better.  First, if you have addictions, defeat them.  Stop.  Today.  You deserve better for yourself.  I remember when I was 14.  I'd flinch anytime my mom would raise her hand.  I knew she was going to smack me around.  I found some friends, but they were just as messed up as I was.  That's when I started getting involved in school and church and getting away from home.

You need to do things for you.  You can't get a real job, but you can mow lawns, babysit, tutor, there is always someone who knows less than you.  Get involved at school.  I take my FBLA kids on several overnight field trips every year.  When I got involved, I was away often.  When I started working I had the money to get away.  Even if it's just to a debate tournament for a weekend, away is away.

If your parents are driving you crazy...maybe you're driving them crazy.  Get a journal and start writing.  Don't blog.  Don't make it impersonal.  Telling the world isn't the same as pouring your heart out in a book only you will read.  

Don't spend all your time on the computer or playing games.  That is doing...anything.  Go to the library...as my daughter once said, "Did you know they have a library here and you can actually check out books?"  She was a freshman in high school and she was talking about the school library. REMEMBER that just because you don't have 800 friends doesn't mean you're unpopular. The world on the internet isn't real. People can be anything they want, including deceptive and evil. That great guy you met, can actually be some sick 45 year old who likes young people, and NOT in a good way. Likewise, just because you don't hang out with the cool kids, doesn't mean you are worth less than they are. You are a child of God and you have just as much worth as everyone else. Doesn't make you feel special? But you are the only you there is. That should make you feel special.

Volunteer.  There are LOTS of places needing extra hands to help out people have it worse than you ever will.  Remember the guy on the bench?  I can't make your life easier for you, but you can make your life easier for yourself.  If you know that every day your mom is going to nag you about not cleaning your room.  Clean your room.  PERIOD.  Just do it to avoid that conflict.  Conflict doesn't make you happy.  Conflict does bring about change, but at your age it usually turns into combat.  Why are you fighting a fight over a stupid sock?  

Don't have sex.  I'll just toss that one out there for you.  Are you really ready to be a parent?  Having a baby WILL NOT improve your situation.  Sex does NOT equal LOVE.  Sex is amazing, between two people who are in a committed relationship, preferably marriage.  It should not be used.  PERIOD.  Not for a place to stay or a bite to eat.  Not to make you feel good about yourself, not to make someone else happy.  Sex isn't a tool.  It isn't something to be used and abused.  But he loves me...no he just wants to get in your pants...watched Glee lately???  Sex isn't glamorous.  

I had one friend tell me that she'd had sex before, so she thought that having sex for stuff would be the same.  It wasn't.  She hadn't expected the guys who she picked up to be so dirty, to stink of sweat and filth. It wasn't what she experienced with her boyfriend.  There was no pleasure for her in it.  And for you guys thinking, I'd never have to have sex for money...and if I did, so what, I bet it would be with some hot chick.  Guess again.  I once reported my neighbor to the police for all his disgusting activities.  He liked to pick up homeless boys, usually 13 or 14.  He called them his "models".  I'll never forget the day I called the police; he had this young boy in his car.  He was coaxing him out like a little puppy.  This guy was seriously sick.  That kid, sold himself to some fat old man for what?  $20?  Was it worth it?  

Plan an extended sleep over.  Maybe your parents will be willing to have you stay with a friend or family. Yes, living with a friend may cause conflict for them, but maybe it wouldn't.  Do you have a family member you can stay with?  Remember that by staying with someone, you are costing them money.  Extra food, extra water, extra electricity.  You need to make sure that you pull your weight and help out.  When I lived with my friend, Paula, I thought it was all wonderful.  Her alcoholic father did not.  He was a mean drunk.  I don't know if my being there made him drink more, but it was bad.  It was really bad.  I had to leave.  I always thought I could run away and live with my dad.  That wasn't a reality either.  He didn't want me.  No one wanted me.  So I thought what the heck, I want me.  I want me to be somebody.  So I got involved.  

Know that your parents will probably never understand you.  My mom, after almost 40 years, has come to grips with who I am.  I've known for years who I am, she just didn't accept it.  I wasn't about to change.  I found God when I was 16.  I got kicked out of my house every time I went to church.  I had to find a place to live because I went to CHURCH.  I didn't give up on my church.  I just stopped going until I turned 18 and moved away.  I didn't stop believing, I just stopped the combat.  I never stopped praying or reading scriptures, I just put the church going on hold.  Funny thing, a couple of months ago, my mom got into this argument with her friend about how God seems to love some people more than others.  I overheard and said, "God is no respecter of persons, He loves us all the same."  My mom just looked at me and smiled.  I got the profound feeling that being her Christian daughter was better than being her drunk son.  Go God!  

We all have ways of dealing with what life gives us.  For me, I choose to break the cycle of abuse and become a wonderful parent.  That led me to become a teacher.  I've had hundreds of kids pass through my doors.  I think I've helped more than a few.  It's my calling.  I could never have done all that I have if I would have simply dropped out and given up.  Being ignorant isn't glamorous.  It's actually sad.  I've worked hard and I've given back.  I'll continue to give back.  I believe that every day is a new day.  It's 1:00 a.m. right now.  I'm one hour into the best day of my life.  Where are you?  You can do this.  I know you can.  I'll be praying for you.  




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