$162.25. Is it a lot of money, just enough, or not enough? For me, it’s the amount I have left after paying bills to use for groceries and gas for two weeks. I’m cringing because I know it’s going to be tight and I’m definitely going to have to defer my eating habits to my hungry automobile. And yet, I’m relieved the mortgage is paid, the car payment taken, and the electric bill will be paid by check via U.S. mail in a few days.
My husband and I are the middle class couple you read about on the news. One tragedy away from a financial crisis. In this case, it’s my husband’s cancer which has resulted in us living on disability pay. I never expected him to be off work for several months but thankfully, he received a few months of sick pay before the disability kicked in.
This post isn’t about the lucky ones, however, it’s about the ones who fall through society’s cracks. For my husband’s treatment, we travel from our small town to the nearby city of Grand Rapids several times a week. Exiting the freeway, on good weather days, there are usually two homeless people working the traffic. They stand with cardboard signs inked with black magic marker, HOMELESS. PLEASE HELP. Usually, older men (some are veterans) beg for help but a few days ago, I saw a young woman with bright pink hair in a dress standing out in the 90 degree heat with her sign. I couldn’t read it as her back was to me but instantly, I wondered about her story.
It’s true that some homeless people make poor choices and some simply have no family support to weather the hard times. We’re living in an era where it’s common for young people to move back in with their parents after college. If it’s hard for them to make it, imagine being 40 or 50, chronically ill, lacking in skills, or not having a decent education.
What is the solution? How do we help? Especially if we are in a situation where we have no cash to spare? I used to work for a homeless shelter and I can tell you that understanding and kindness go a long way as do volunteering for civic organizations that help the homeless, veterans, and victims of domestic violence. All these groups of people could use some support. Or just go wild and find your own way to help.
Once, when I was young and working, I saw a man standing out on a street corner in the well-to-do city of Jenison where I lived. His sign read, UNEMPLOYED. I drove home to my duplex and loaded up all my recently bought groceries into three bags and drove them back to the street corner and gave them all to him. He was stunned. I asked him if he had any kids and he said he had three. I made sure to point out that I had Cheerios and cranberry juice. I made him hug me because I’m weird like that and drove off.
Or you could write a poem about society’s poor like I did below and share it with the world. Take a read and let me know what you think. As always, don’t forget to subscribe to this blog by clicking at the top of the page.
Fluid Flow Experiment
10.26.2009 revised 12.5.12
Economists manhandle equations
the way a streetwalker drives up her price—
no matter the presentation,
variables remain unchanged
in the face of a flinching population
unable to test the predictions.
If the market doubles,
a broker’s cash is 16 times greater
than the resistance trickling
among the constants.
How do we prove this formula?
The revelation of π.
Is π the morning drive?
Or the tube we hide in
when the pressure pulls us further down the line?
Turbulent mind flow
falters with time
dictating reactions consistent with complacency
Johnny feels for the sixty-five years
he will grind his knuckles for Uncle Sam
waiting under a blanket of promises,
each one written by the heavy hands
who conduct the experiment,
not a Scientist among them.