Saturday, October 15, 2005

My Half-Baked Solution for Homelessness

The homeless guy, Paul, whom I mentioned at the end of my last post, got me to thinking about a tactic I came up with years ago for dealing with the many panhandlers you run into in Boston. They are everywhere here in the city, especially near banks and convenience stores, places they think people might feel a bit more inclined to pull out their wallets. Some sit glumly with the standard “Homeless veteran — need money for food” sign scrawled on cardboard. The livelier ones work the shuffling sidewalk crowd, shaking paper cups partially filled with coins like a musical instrument. “Hey mister, spare some change?” is the question a woman always asks me from her customary perch directly in the path leading back to work from the Store 24. Some like to tell you stories: their wallet got stolen and they need money to make a phone call. They have children starving at home. I once saw a beggar try some refreshing honesty — his sign read, “Why lie? I’m spending it on beer.”

My response has always been to look straight ahead and pretend they’re not there, which is uncomfortable, because, if anything, I am all too acutely aware of their presence. I see them from a mile away and, as I approach, grow a little taut and move to the far side of the sidewalk, like a baseball player avoiding a tag. I always inwardly cringe when the wretch finally addresses me directly for a little spare change. I don’t feel like a very nice guy as I mock the poor guy’s existence by acting as if a question hadn’t been asked or I hadn’t noticed a hand outstretched in my direction. Feigning a consuming interest in a nearby street sign or a fire hydrant seems infantile. But here’s the thing: I know giving them money will do them no good. It’ll go to booze or drugs. They’ll use it to support a lifestyle that’s dragging them down. If they need help, there’s help to be got — government agencies and charities and the like. If I thought for a moment that giving one of them a dollar would go toward something constructive, I’d do it. But I have no faith that it will.

A very long time ago I gave this moral tussle some substantial thought and felt I came up with a pretty good plan — one that I gave up on after only two weeks of putting it into practice. Hearing about it, you’ll think I was hopelessly naive. But you see, I’m really not heartless; I’ve always recognized the indigent I see everyday as fellow human beings. They’ve always inspired more sympathy in me than scorn. There’s an undeniable “there but for the grace of God go I” aspect of their plight I’m not insensible to. I know each case must be a fascinating story, a cautionary tale if you will, the sort of thing you can use as instructive examples for children: “See what can happen to you? And he started off a decent little boy too!” It has always bothered me to completely disregard them.

So one Sunday I scanned the Help Wanted section of the newspaper (Sunday is the day the listings are really stocked) and I clipped out all the unskilled menial jobs I saw and pasted them onto two or three sheets of paper which I later photocopied at the local Staples. Then I went to the supermarket and bought small paper lunch bags, a quantity of pre-packaged brownies and a like number of tiny cans of fruit juice. Back home, I assembled what I thought would be roughly a week’s supply of packages to distribute to the homeless.

My thinking was obvious enough. I wouldn’t give them money, which they would only use to destroy themselves, but instead I would give them what they needed most: some crude nutrition and the means for bettering themselves through remunerative work. Consider me simpleminded if you must, but you have to admit it made some sense. I figured, at least now I wouldn’t blight my conscience by ignoring them.

So that Monday, instead of avoiding the street people, I actively sought them out with the intention of bestowing my little packets of mercy on those who it seemed might not take offense. But the strangest thing occurred: these people for whom I meant to play benefactor to suddenly became scarce. Maybe the weather that time took a turn for the worst and forced them to seek shelter. Or maybe something instinctual happened — they somehow knew a cotton-headed, self-appointed hero of the downtrodden was trolling for them and they kept clear of me. Often when there was an opportunity, it so happened I didn’t have the packets with me, as it was inconvenient to have them on my person all the time. However, I did hand out a few and and always took care to leave the scene quickly; the one thing I certainly wished to avoid was witnessing anyone’s reaction. To be honest, I felt very shy about it, and really needed to pluck up my courage before approaching a bedraggled, unstable-looking fellow with a gift that could be as easily interpreted an insult as it could a kindness.

The one week’s worth of packets turned out to be two week’s worth. During the second week, I didn’t bother to update the Help Wanted list. Finally I was down to my last packet and had it with me as I entered the subway station one night returning home from work.

Even as I descended the stairs I could hear the drunken song of a homeless man from within the station. Instantly I plunged my hand into my backpack and I extracted the package which might or might not put this wayward creature onto the path to self-improvement. The walls and ceilings in the cavernous place were all tile, so his singing reverberated wonderfully. Finally I turned a corner and he came into view: a big man, somewhere in midlife, with tousled black hair and beard, sitting with his back against the wall and his legs splayed forward, causing the stream of people to veer around him to avoid tripping. A single wooden crutch, old and dirty, was propped against the wall beside him. One of his enormous bear-paw hands was wrapped around a bottle concealed in a paper bag. He was in extremely fine spirits, a jovial Dionysus in rags.

I felt very timid approaching him and, quickly handing off the package, I said, “This is for you,” and kept moving along as I always did. But here my earnest desire to avoid a reaction to my altruism went unfulfilled, because I presently found myself mired in a line to buy a token and the acoustics of the place transmitted sound from every far corner with perfect clarity. So I heard this:

“Oh, look at this, a present! Haw, haw! Now what’s in here?” — a pause — “A brownie! And a little can of juice. Well isn’t that nice! Haw, haw, haw! And what’s this?” — another slight pause — “What the fuck? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?”

I couldn’t have bought that token and skedaddled out of there fast enough. I prayed the crutch he had was there for a reason, just in case I needed to take to my heels for dear life. As I suspected, not every one of my well-intentioned gifts was received with gratitude. Now I knew.

Since then, I’ve returned to my accustomed way of walking right on by. Every now and again I’ll weaken and give someone a quarter or a dollar. But no more care packages. I’m done with them.

I’m curious to know how other people deal with these daily encounters with the homeless. What do you do? And what’s your reasoning? What should we, as individuals, do?

36 Comments:

Blogger Chloe said...

Like you, I avoid giving the homeless money and prefer instead to share my food. Once, a man told me of his hunger, and asked for money to feed himself and his young daughter. I offered what I thought was a feast: a sandwich, fruit, cookies, carrots, and juice. He looked at my food and said, "no thanks!" I was devastated that my perceived generosity was rebuffed by someone in need.

Now whenever I see them, all I wonder is where did they get the fucking marker? with which to make their signs.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Mrs.T said...

Mr.T gives food. I give coupons and food if anything and my time to soup kitchens when I was younger.

Most of them make a lot of money everyday and prefer to not have to get a job.

Why work for it, when you can just make a sign and look dirty and forget your self respect and pride?

People with no character.

On the flip side, I've given coupons to a guy who LOVED it, and thanked me profusely and told me his kids would LOVE the ice cream it would be a treat tonight. It was a coupon for Ice cream and while that sounds strange, in the hot TX heat.. its something he genuinely wanted and needed.

Mostly though, they don't want to be saved. (in MY experience)

7:28 PM  
Blogger Yoda said...

That is a really good post.

One of my friends had a similar experience. He thought he'd be a self-appointed hero and distribute blankets in the winter. He got mobbed and he lost his wallet. Not to mention that most of the blankets got stolen by bullies who "resold" them to the homeless?

Everytime I see a homeless guy, I take a note and every so month, I donate $1 per guy I saw to a charity. Anonymously - ofcourse.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Mona said...

I commend you for the work you put into it. My guess is that not everyone is in the same situation and maybe, just maybe, you did offer some opportunity to someone who thought they would never find work in their situation.

I decided some time ago that I could give some change with no thoughts of what they will use it for. That's their choice. Mine was to give the change unconditionally. And if more than one person asks me that day, then I honestly say that I already gave what I had.

I donate to organizations and hope for a better community that nurtures citizens to be better parents and better family members so that more people have strong support systems to all help each other out when needed. Call me an idealist.

5:32 AM  
Blogger Paul (rock star wanna be) said...

Awesome post! I've offered to buy a sandwhich in place of giving money and have had takers and decliners. For the most part I just dont give anything anymore.

Being a recovering alcoholic, I know the depths that addictive lifestyles can take someone.

At some point you either turn your life around or you dont. If you dont, then you spiral into oblivion and die.

As someone else stated there are agecies out there to help people who want help. Most of these panhandlers dont want help, they want money. They dont get mine.

Great post.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Jaxx said...

Great post. I never give the homeless money. I have a different perspective because I used to have to arrest them; and a while back I actually witnessed a panhandler get into a Mercedes Benz. I know that most of them have real problems but given the two circumstances I just mentioned, I have a hard time generating much sympathy. Cold hearted I know, but I do try to donate to charities that help the homeless. That way I can be fairly confident that the money will get put to good use.

12:46 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Now whenever I see them, all I wonder is where did they get the fucking marker? with which to make their signs."

I also wonder how some of them are so fat.


"Mr.T gives food. I give coupons and food if anything and my time to soup kitchens when I was younger."

I heard there was a system the city tried a few years ago, where you could buy and then give a homeless person a voucher which he could redeem for food. He couldn't cash it in or use for cigarettes or alcohol. Sounds like a pretty good idea.


"Everytime I see a homeless guy, I take a note and every so month, I donate $1 per guy I saw to a charity. Anonymously - ofcourse."

I like that idea, Yoda. Wise in the way of charity you are.


"I decided some time ago that I could give some change with no thoughts of what they will use it for."

Mona, some authorities will tell you that, imperfect as it, giving them money is probably a good thing.


"At some point you either turn your life around or you don't."

Very well said, Paul.



"Cold hearted I know, but I do try to donate to charities that help the homeless."

Good man, Jaxx. Given what you said, you don't strike me a particualrly cold-hearted.

5:00 AM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

The first weekend a friend of mine got her very first car we decided to drive 20 miles just to go to Burger King. (They weren't any closer) and as we pulled off the thruway, singing along to the radio, we looked up and on the side of the intersection was some guy just a few years older then us holding a "will work for food" sign. Well, didn't we suddenly feel like crap? So, we continued on our way, got our burgers, ate in guilt ridden silence, then mutually agreed to bring him something. We got one of those meal deal things and coffee because it was chilly out. Then, timid as rabbits, we stopped the car near the grass island he was on and walked over with it. He seemed grateful. Or amused. I'm still not sure... but we felt better.
But where I live, you don't encounter too many homeless people, or street beggars. Just not enough foot traffic for them to bother I think.

7:33 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

That's one of the best damn stories I've heard in a good long while. You two were good kids doing that. Bravo!

7:47 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

There is only one homeless man in our town, and I believe he is mentally disturbed. I've never seen him asking for money. But he must have a little, because every day he buys half a watermelon at the grocery store. He hangs out in the local library, but we don't even have a shelter in our town, so he's stuck with the streets, I guess.

9:42 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I think nearly every homeless person you run into in Boston is "mentally disturbed." Goes with the territory.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

In San Francisco we had our share of homeless, but now I live out in the country a ways and don't have to deal with them. I have many of the same problems that you do. I feel bad, but repetition has made my heart grow colder. If I feel like it, I'll hand out some money. What you did was dead on the money, but the man would have found me looking right at him when he started into his tirade. He's the one sitting around begging for food, who decided long ago to give up and make it everyone else's problem.

I spend the night on a beach with a bunch of homeless. We had a fiest on my dime and a case of beer. These people for the most part are capable physically to take care of themselves. It is a tough world out there, but that is no excuse to give up.

I passed the same guy every day on Lombard St and asked him why he didn't get a job. He said he tried but they weren't out there. Bullshit is what I say. Give me the situation of anyone of these guys save for the physically or mentally disabled, and I'll be pumping gas at Chevron within the month.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

Nothing doing here--I just can't believe that they would really work if they got a job (for the no job homless vet types)
OR
They would spend it on anything other than booze or drugs--I just say no, or no thanks, and skee daddle.
I commend everyone on the efforts! More than I would do.

12:57 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I passed the same guy every day on Lombard St and asked him why he didn't get a job."

I think the common complaint is if they don't have an address, then no one wants to hire them. I think part of the problem might be that some of the able-bodied ones think the world owes them a favor.

Nice comments, Scott.


"Nothing doing here--I just can't believe that they would really work if they got a job (for the no job homeless vet types)"

A housepainter I worked for once was a recovering alcoholic, and he hired a couple of Skid Row types he met through AA. As soon as they got their check on Friday morning, off they went, never to be seen again.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Mr. Schprock, you are by far the best blog writer I've ever read. I hate to say that and play favorites, but in my busy life when I take the time to really sit down and read what you're writing, I always get right into it. Let's not even get started on your use of grammar, big words, and expressions. You're just a good writer!

That being said, I don't have bums in the town I live in because it's a small town and there can be no panhandling here.

When I travel to big cities, I don't give the homeless anything. I shrug if they get right in my face, but keep on going.

I don't believe these little handouts do anything for the homeless. I believe if people stopped, the homeless would be forced to take action with their lives.

Therefore, I think people who feel they must help the homeless stay homeless ... i.e., those who give away money, should be fined for doing so. Yes, fined. There, I said it!

One last thing:

“Why lie? I’m spending it on beer.”

Thank God I don't have bladder control issues. Bahahaha!

8:39 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I have to agree with Beth Mr. Schprock. There is a special something about your writing that pulls me in. Your style draws the reader into your world, and you always have something to say and have plenty to support it. Your comments are always inventive and insightful, and might I add that you are an inspiration to myself, and I'm sure for a host of others.

9:39 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Scott and Beth, you both wrote some very flattering things, and let me immediately say that I'm glad such words of praise came from people such as yourselves, so I can use the opportunity by saying, in return, that I have a short list of must-read blogs and both of yours are on it. They're written in indelible ink and I just had the thing laminated, so I'll haunt you forever. There are others, but not very many more. It's a credit to me that gifted writers like you appreciate the stuff I write. I feel like I'm in select company. Thank you very much for your kind words.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

They're written in indelible ink and I just had the thing laminated, so I'll haunt you forever.

You see, there you go again, saying it so poignantly.

12:10 PM  
Blogger John said...

If it weren't for my parents' generosity, Michele, her daughter and I would be homeless. We have jobs, but can't afford to live anywhere big enough for the three of us. Life does that to you sometimes. It must be awful to have no one to turn to and nowhere to live.

I give when I can. And our old clothes go to the St. Vincent dePaul bin at the church.

2:05 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I hear ya, John. Of the many things you have going for you, a "safety net" — in the shape of your parents — has got to be right there at the top. Thank God for that, right?

4:52 PM  
Blogger Farrago said...

My thought on the issue is, when you have the opportunity or the forethought, to buy him/her/them a meal of some sort -- fast food, hot-dog stand, brunch at The Ritz, whatever you think is appropriate. If they're truly hungry they'll take it, they'll thank you and they'll eat it. If they say "No thanks," then they just want money, and you've exposed them, at least in your heart, as the frauds they are, and you can gleefully ignore them in the future.

And, yes, Mr. Schprock, your writing does go down smoothly. I bookmarked you when I first blogged as The Shootist. You graced me then with a perfunctory read, and I've not heard from you since ;•) I occasionally wax poetic, so if you're ever so obliged, I wouldn't mind having you over for a read.


dassall

9:02 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Oh yes, I remember The Shootist. A nice post as I recall (something about your style of driving, dealing with traffic, that sort of thing, right?). I'm buried in work right now, but this weekend I plan to take a little cruise through the blogs. I'll make a point to stop on by. Thanks for your comment.

3:50 AM  
Blogger jenbeauty said...

fNot half baked but very noble. I always direct them to the nearest shelter.

8:12 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"Not half baked but very noble."

Thanks for saying, Jen. I would have settled for: "at least your heart is in the right place."

12:49 PM  
Blogger :phil: said...

I have to go into NYC one day everyweek, I try to do a RAK (Random Act of Kindness) on each visit. It does not always involve the homeless. Lately though, I will buy someone a sandwich and a water. I did give a woman $5 on Monday, she looked like she needed it. You were trying to do the right thing. Very cool.

5:25 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

I remember that about you, Phil. I think it's awesome you do that.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Spirit Of Owl said...

Well, I almost feel as if I have to make a sort of polite cough as I enter the room - and watch for the rolls of the eyes... ;)

First of all, I'd like to add my compliments to those already given. You really are an excellent writer, and this is, as ever, a well thought through, heartfelt, warm and eloquently written post. It is a pleasure to read your posts, and always a pleasure to leave a comment.

Now. I think you know that I have, in fact, been homeless in my past. My longest single period of homelessness lasted 18 months, and 6 weeks of that were street homeless. I lived in doors, boxes, parks, bushes, woods - wherever. I was young, I had a leather jacket, jeans, and a bag full of t-shirts. Most of the time, I really didn't care. It never felt like much more than a stopping off place, and really, so it proved.

I never begged. Why? Because I played drums in a band, and the band paid me money, and I lived off of that. I had no bills, right? But I certainly knew the beggars, and hung out with them sometimes.

I'll tell you this, I found that there actually was an element of strategy in their approach to begging. They'd swap stories, compare technique, argue territory, and all over the cigarettes, beer, whisky and vodka they'd bought with the money they'd "made."

I don't know what you think about that, but look, what do you expect? These were human beings, and in many ways they were doing very human things: organising, planning, preparing, gathering supplies, socialising, stratifying their society, and on and on. Despite being right there with them, I never felt as though I were a part of their world, but I did feel with them. I wasn't ever cast out because I didn't join in, either. I never said anything about my feelings that I was just passing through, but there was a tacit understanding between us all, and also a mutual respect. I respected them, truly. They knew exactly where they were, and yes they knew they could be better, but they also knew that they were surviving and many, many days that was really all that could be asked of them.

Here's the thing: Whatever you think, however much you are convinced that there is a path out of homelessness for everyone, if they just really try there's a real place in this society for every person - well, look, it's only my opinion, but this is it: it's not true. It's an illusion. Society always has a top and a bottom, always, and I've hung out with people at the top too - millionaires from managers of Marks and Spencers to international salesman to musicians to politicians to self made business people - and let me tell you I saw no difference, NONE, in the way that that particular strata of society went about it's daily life than that of the homeless.

Of course the homeless would love to be where the millionaires are. Sometimes they want it enough that they get their shit together, and they work and work, and smarten up, and do the right things, and do everything they can to make things better in their lives.

But think, when you get a bad break, when your efforts turn to shit, you go home. You cry, or whatever you do, get stroppy, have a meal, and moan to your friends on the phone, right? The fact is, your base LOW is a fucking DREAM to a homeless person. And when YOU have a shitty couple of days when you don't do exactly what you should, people say, hey come on, give yourself a break, while a homeless person will STARVE and will be told that their condition is their OWN FUCKING FAULT.

Ok, so why do people become homeless, become destitute in the first place? Mental ill health is certainly one reason, and I make no bones about having mental health issues myself. Family life is another big factor - abused children will often run away, and become homeless. And... family income. Face it, how many doctors end up with homeless children? By the way, don't tell me that they're better parents because the doctors I've known have hardly seen their kids because of the hours they work - their kids are raised by professional nannies. There's no blame in this, the doctors I'm talking about know their situation and hate it - but feel they can do nothing about it. Funny that, isn't it? And friends of mine who are teachers fight a constant dilemma about whether they go to the schools with the better pay, conditions, and pupils, or fulfill their idealistic callings to teach at the poorer inner city schools but die young from the stress of teaching poor kids who are truculent, angry, bitter, and all too often hopeless. And hey, look, hopeless is only one letter away from homeless.

Look, my life is not exactly hanging by a thread, but the rug could be pulled from under me very quickly. I don't own the home I live in, and I don't have a job. Despite all my efforts to get some self-respect and independence, and be able to provide for my family, I rely on my wife, her love, her patience, her understanding, her work, her income, her house... Would I want to lose this? My wife, my home, my children? Of course not. But, I can't be certain of anything.

Let me stress, I'm making efforts, every day, to find work, to control my mood, to be a better husband, a better man, but if my wife can't stand it any more, and seeks more of the life that she and the children truly do deserve, then she will leave me.

And me? I will be homeless again. Simple as that. Well, then if you were to give me food, I'd appreciate it. But in that situation, I don't know how I would ever find the strength to get out. Ever.

But I'm only me, and I only know some stories. There are 6 billion people with stories in this world, and as I see it the real hard fact of it is that, good or bad, hardly anyone gets what they deserve. I never play the lottery, but people win millions every week. Other people who've worked hard and have children to live for, well, they die.

I know this is a long comment, I hope you understand that I felt the need to express it fully. I do understand exactly what you, and many of your commentors, are saying. It may or may not surprise you to know that many homeless people understand it too - the man with the beer sign shows pretty damn clearly that they do. I really don't want to persuade any single person, you or your readers, that they have got it all wrong with homeless people - not at all! That isn't the point. I respect you, your readers and commentors very much indeed, and in many ways agree with what has been said. Clearly, though, this issue is so close to me that I felt that I wanted to make a full response.

With sincere respect,
Owl

4:50 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

When I lived in SF, there was a homeless man who used to sit on California St. at Battery on a milk crate. I would give him a piece of fruit or PB&J when I had one to give. One time my friend and I were walking along Market St. and saw an older man (I think he might have been handicapped) sitting on a dirty blanket with a cat. We're both cat lovers, so we went to the nearest Walgreen where we bought a sandwich for the man and a can of cat food for the cat. And I've never had any homeless person not thank me most kindly for the food and say they prefer money. Here in Detroit or in SF.

And not only is it hard to get a job when you don't have an address, it's hard when you're dirty and have no clean clothes. It's a Catch-22.

And yes, I understand that there are a number of people who are scammers, but I'm not going to judge which are the real homeless (unless I'm down on Haight Street - I never give homeless kids money because when I was kid I was working damn hard at Burger King in order to make money to put myself through college).

4:41 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Oh, and I always wonder where their families are. I know that my family would never let me live on the streets if I were to lose my job (knock on wood).

4:47 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Spirit, thank you for your amazing, beautifully constructed comment. I do recall having read in your posts that you were, at one time, homeless. Thank God it was more a sojourn than a permanent destination. I have heard stories similar to yours. I know of a musician (like yourself) who took great pride in the fact that he didn't look homeless while he looked for — and eventually found — work. The newspaper ran an article about a brilliant, but unfortunately deranged, homeless man who lived in a tent in a small wooded area on the banks of the Charles River near Harvard University. He came from a well-to-do family and would occasionally come home for brief visits, but shunned the comfort his family wanted to give him for the independence of the indigent life he chose. I must confess that homeless people fascinate me. I found the book "Ironweed" absorbing. Sometimes I picture myself in that situation, overcome by destitution and hopelessness, not able to find a way out because of barriers largely invisible and of my own making, but real barriers nonetheless. John Kenneth Galbraith's book "The Affluent Society" makes a great point about how insecure things were for people 150-200 years ago without all the economic safety nets there are in place today, and I think that's how it is for the homeless: the one paycheck that didn't come, a desperate gamble that didn't pay off, a string of poor decisions, that last bad break.

I think about you from time to time. I know about your issues. Anyone can see that you've been doubly blessed with intelligence and humanity and it's impossible not to root for you and hope you finally find your way.

Thank you once again for your very thoughtful and illuminating comment.

5:00 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"One time my friend and I were walking along Market St. and saw an older man (I think he might have been handicapped) sitting on a dirty blanket with a cat. We're both cat lovers, so we went to the nearest Walgreen where we bought a sandwich for the man and a can of cat food for the cat."

Kathleen, I think that was perfect. It's a good story to hear and I think it says a lot about you.

5:09 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

My mother is always befriending someone who most people would consider a "loser." But she always says that if it weren't for the support of her family, she could have ended up exactly in the same position. Not everyone has someone to give them that hand up.

I heard a woman talking to reporters after Hurricane Katrina. She didn't own her home or her car, and both were destroyed in the hurricane. Her job was non-existent, she had no family to stay with, and she was a single mother with 3 children. The hopelessness she felt was overwhelming, because she never expected to be in that position.

It can happen to any of us.

9:12 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Very well stated. And Trina, I know that about your mother and I have also noticed the good things you do — the Habitats for Humanity-type stuff — and even though you have a — shall we say — "funky" family situation, the expression definitely applies: you come from good family.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Chicka said...

Most people I know are a mere two paychecks away from homelessness.
It's the people living at middle-class and above that really don't have a clue. Some will say I'm wrong, but it's my experience.

I do know many members of "indigent society" that don't like to be made a pet case out of either - not because they can't use the help, but becuase of the REASON people are helping - to make themselves look good. Not to help out a fellow human bean. We assume we know a lot about the people who are hungry and suffering. And we can jest all we want, but really, until you walk a mile...

10:09 AM  
Blogger Übermilf said...

Queen Goob, that's why I have such a hard time voting. How many candidates have received a red warning letter from a utility, threatening cutoff unless payment is made? How many have had to juggle finances, figuring which creditor could wait a month and which couldn't?

And I'm a lucky middle-class person. What of the homeless? In Chicago, I remember the heartlessness shown to the homeless when their belongings were swept away from Lower Wacker (an underground street system that provided some protection from the elements) and they returned in the evening to find their "homes" gone.

I don't have a solution, but I'm glad there are lots of people who care. That's better than nothing.

1:52 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"We assume we know a lot about the people who are hungry and suffering."

Good point. I can only use my imagination. I have no real idea what it's like to be truly hungry.


"I remember the heartlessness shown to the homeless when their belongings were swept away from Lower Wacker (an underground street system that provided some protection from the elements) and they returned in the evening to find their "homes" gone."

I think they did that in Boston too, citing cases of attempted rape and other criminal acts happening in these little burrows where the congregate.

2:44 PM  

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