The Hobo Code

I was doing research for a bit I’m writing regarding this recent recession and its comparison to the Great Depression, when I ran across the Hobo Code. As an avid student of history, I knew it existed, along with the hobo markings, but I found it compelling enough to share it here. Note that it was “adopted” in 1889 as a “concrete set of laws to govern the Nation-wide Hobo Body.”

I may burn in Hell for all eternity for the sin of blasphemy, but I think the Hobo Code may be an even better code than the Ten Commandments. It is certainly shorter and more to the point than the Bible.

  • Decide your own life, don’t let another person run or rule you.
  • When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.
  • Don’t take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.
  • Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.
  • When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.
  • Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals’ treatment of other hobos.
  • When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.
  • Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.
  • If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.
  • Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.
  • When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.
  • Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.
  • Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.
  • Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.
  • Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.
  • If present at a hobo court and you have testimony, give it. Whether for or against the accused, your voice counts

For those who want to gain a better understanding of who Americans have become and what this whole “American Dream” thing is, in my opinion, there are two bits of history that have forged it; The Jacksonian period and the Great Depression era. This current recessionary period and the convergence of two large generations — the Boomers and the GenYers — also have the potential for adding to that narrative and shaping the Dream for several generations that will come after us. Those who know history will have the most power to forge change.

Read up on your history if you haven’t yet. Your voice may be the one called upon.

NB: I usually either use photos I shot or from the libraries at iStockPhoto for my posts. I had no hobo photos and no other human around here wanted to play the part, so I went to Wikipedia and grabbed a photo in the public domain. The reason I did not use one from iStockPhoto was I was disgusted by what they tagged as hobo photos. They either had homeless men or perverse depictions of rail and hitchhiking travel. Sad. I think someone over there needs to read some more history.

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About Rufus Dogg

I'm a dog who writes a blog. It is not a pet blog. It is a real blog that talks about real ideas. No, really. I do my own writing, but I have a really, really cool editor who overlooks the fact that I can't really hit the space-bar key cause I don't have thumbs. I talk about everything from politics to social issues to just rambling about local problems. And, sometimes I just talk about nothing in particular. Google+
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10 Responses to The Hobo Code

  1. Catherine says:

    That was really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Rufus says:

    Thank you for your comment. It always strikes me that no matter how much technology we invite into our lives, it always comes back to how we treat each other in a community. Technology changes; people don’t. The same rules apply on Twitter.

  3. Pixie says:

    I like this. Thanks.

  4. Rufus says:

    It’s a good code to live by. Thank you for commenting.

  5. What is “jungling”?

  6. Rufus says:

    Slang for camping. Kinda means something else now, but that’s what it meant then 🙂

  7. Self-affirming codes are pretty decent. I’m interested in this. It makes me wish that consultants followed the hobo code.

    Oh well, back to jungling in town. : )

  8. Rufus says:

    Chris, if you change the date to 2010 and wrote the Social Media Hobo Code, you would not have to change very many words. The older I get, the more I appreciate that the human condition persists, through wave after wave of technology innovation, in spite of the latest generation re-writing the rules of social norms to fit the technology. Whether it be railway cars or blogs, we’re all just traveling a journey with each other.

    Thanks for stopping by. Continue jungling 🙂

  9. Raine says:

    In my opinion, the majority of hobos are kinder, more trust-worthy, and work harder than anyone I’ve ever met. They are admirably kind and open-hearted. This past winter a few of my friends invited a married hobo couple, Missa and Flip, over to eat and camp out at their place. The first night of meeting them, everyone was on edge. We looked down on them, because we were ignorant of their lifestyle. Once everyone got to talking though, our opinions completely changed. They ended up staying longer than intended, and within about a month or so the two found their way into our hearts. During their stay they contributed by cleaned the entire house multiple times. We spent every night listening to their stories of being on the road and jamming out on the guitar, harmonica and singing. We all grew so fond of having them around that my friends invited them to stay permanently, but they kindly refused the offer. They explained that they loved and missed the freedom of the roaming life and could never give it up. They’ve tried to before, but ended up reverting back to the hobo lifestyle over and over again. It’s not that they can’t make it as average citizens. I mean, Missa has a doctorates in child psychology, so she could completely make it in life. It’s that they choose this life. I can guarantee that they are THE happiest people in the world. No doubt whatsoever. My wish is that everyone could be this happy in life, if only just once.

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