A long time ago I was sitting in a coffee shop like this one, getting cracked out on caffeine and writing for journalism for some random website about news worldwide. I’d sit around until I heard someone in a funny accent and I’d then walk over and ask them about what country they were from and what the news was in their homeland. This was in LA so a lot of these people had scarves and lived in Brazil or were visiting from Norway or Swaziland which has the coolest flag ever.
During this time one guy turned out to be a businessman who hired me for some reason and while working for him up in Santa Barbara I had a disagreement with the college student I was subleasing from and rather than go all Matlock I moved out and having nowhere to go I lived in a homeless shelter and went to work during the day. This was trippy since being at work was the only time I was around sane normal people, coloring my opinion on having a job. I also found the Democrat nightmare and Republican “see i told you so” spot of not being able to afford housing on my budget(33% of my paycheck and no more) and the only government programs available required me to be unemployed. Why would I quit my job, the only stability I have, in order to get help. It’s pretty stupid that I have to get off any form of employment to get help, especially when I’ve run into people on unemployment who make more than I do. I’m not too much of a Frankford School or Saul Alinski conspiracy theorist but seriously why go through that trouble to remove any safety net a person has before any level of government intervention is applicable?
Nowadays I’m better off. I wrote a newspaper story about living on the street that covers that period in detail and now my only harkening back happens when I see bums on the street. Obviously treating them with the dignity any human deserves is my Christian duty, but at the same time I can’t just shell out all my money to help them out. They know what to do and what they can do to help themselves. Usually I’ll talk with them and discuss a bit on their options of places they can go for help and groups they can talk to. Most of them have enough excuses backed up but once I talk with them about life on the street they realize that I’m not just another sucker and either give up or get real and have some substantive dialogue.
Obviously you can give them money, and I think that’s a great idea, but i wonder about how much help it does versus a more realistic fix. A buddy of mine liked my terming this the ’emotional ponzi scheme’ where you give to the man on the street and get a payback that may be a lot in the form of ‘thanks’ or ‘hey man god bless’ but it doesn’t really have any sort of momentum for a serious improvement in condition compared to if that same handful of dimes had gone to Dallas Life Foundation or even the Bridge.
That’s all for now.