Another One Rides the Bus

After that last business, how about something positive to report, hm?

Well, it's not much, but I did do something that would benefit someone else. After almost being run down (again) trying to get to the bus last week, I decided enough was enough. I checked out GTA's website and found out that requesting a new bus stop was just a matter of writing the Planning Section saying why a new stop was needed and where. My reasoning was simply that people walking from our community or the neighboring one* were forced to cross a major thoroughfare in order to get to the bus stop, which can be dangerous when they're intent on making the bus and consequently misjudging traffic flow. I asked that a stop be included on the same side of the street as the communities, in between two existing stops, which are currently at least a mile apart.

According to the website, it'll take thirty days to review and review/deny a new stop. I just hope someone (especially one of us) doesn't become a traffic statistic before then.

*A privately-run apartment community abuts ours, and shares part of the same access road. People living in the eastern half of that community have a bus stop they can get to, but people from the western half have to make the same mad dash that we have to through the traffic.


It's SNAFU Time

I've lived long enough and grown up enough to admit when I'm wrong. To wit:

In my last post, I railed about the apparent shabby treatment a homeless man in Winston received while a film crew was shooting in another part of the building. I've since found out that what was reported in the paper was only half (maybe less) of the story (see sara's comments from the last post to find out the details.) I've stuck my foot in my mouth up to my kneecap, and I apologize to the film crew and the others on the scene at the time.

Sara nailed me good. I committed the very sin of which I jump on others for: passing judgement. Seems even after all the crap I went through I still have a lot to learn. Hard lessons, too.

If I have a defense here at all, it is that too many times this sort of thing happens to homeless/poor people where the entire story is known, but no one speaks up, rationally or otherwise. I've been witness to some of those times, and to this day, I kick myself for not saying anything when something needed to be said. I guess the lesson I've learned here is to dig a little more into such things and think a little more before speaking, neh?

And thanks to all you guys for keeping me honest.



Thy Brother's Keeper

I was going to post about how foolish the city of Orlando (east coast home of The Mouse) is acting towards its homeless population, and about the homeless count they did here in Guilford County, but Cara, who's far more hip to these things than I am, has beaten me to it. You can get the salient details on her blog. My two cents? While Orlando has the right to regulate its parks, howabout then telling the homeless where they can get food? Or better yet, help them get somewhere to live.

One thing I can post, though (although this will probably fall under the heading of There He Goes Again) is a little something I read about in this week's GoTriad, a supplement to the News & Record that covers entertainment news here in the Triad. The main story was about an annual contest where independent filmmakers have only 48 hours to produce a movie from scratch. One team, with a reported embedded, had a sort-of encounter with a homeless man in Winston-Salem. According to the article by Joe Scott:
[Sunday,] 2:23 a.m. A vagrant stumbles onto the location
while the crew frantically shoots in the basement. "Help me, please," the
homeless man says. "I've just had a seizure." This incident must have no impact
on the work taking place downstairs
, and Matson knows that. While I call the
paramedics, Matson escorts the man outside, locking the door behind her. Shortly
afterward, a firetruck arrives, taking the homeless man away. Everyone hopes for
the best but has to move on. "All right," Matson says, pointing to the front
entrance, "this door stays locked from now on." -- "Under the Gun" GoTriad, 7/26/06

Bold text above is mine.

Okay, let's get this straight: a man comes in to a movie set seeking help from a bunch of strangers because he's fallen ill, and what happens? He gets the help, but it's clearly secondary to finishing a damn movie?! And it's made worse because the man is homeless -- excuse me, "a vagrant", to use reporter Scott's vernacular. So what if he was homeless? He was sick and needed help. And he gathered up enough moxie to ask two strangers for that help. But although he got the help, it seems he was treated as no more than an annoyance to be dealt with, not someone who wanted to be helped with at least a minimum of dignity.

I wonder if he knew he was second best to a shooting script. I wonder if he saw the two he asked for help roll their eyes heavenward as though to say "what now?" I wonder if he heard the exasperated tone of Scott's voice as he called for paramedics as the other person hustled him out the door. I wonder how he reacted to the door being locked the instant he was out of the building. I wonder what conclusions he drew from the frustrated fidgeting and clock watching of the woman as she waited with him for the paramedics. I wonder if he caught the look of "thank God that's over" as he was being wheeled into the firetruck. And I wonder if he thought he was going to die because getting a movie done on time was more important than making sure a fellow human being -- homeless or not -- would live to see another day and maybe, just maybe get another shot at bettering his lot.

And frankly, I wonder if he would've been treated that way if he weren't homeless.

According to the article, these Hollywood wannabes made a spy flick. If they want to impress people, maybe they should spend some time and celluloid documenting the homeless around here. Maybe then they'll see that some things are just a tad more important than film speeds and directorial visions.

No, these people weren't, to use the Biblical phrase, their brother's keeper, but it seems to me that even Abel had the benefit of not knowing just how much Cain resented him before being killed. This poor guy in Winston probably caught a full measure of that.

And all for a movie.



In the Heat. Again. Dammit.

Long post today. Strap in, it's gonna be a bumpy ride...

Got a letter from the Employment Security Commission of the Great And Powerful State Of North Cakalak the other day:
Dear Mr. Brown
The Employment Security Commission (ESC) of North Carolina
is reponsible for working with people who are receiving food stamp benefits and
are required to look for work.

The Department of Social Services has asked us to contact
you regarding your participation in the Food Stamp Employment & Training
(FSE&T) Program. We may be able to assist you in finding a job or enrolling
you in school or training to better prepare you for a job. Some assistance is
available for travel and childcare expenses. First, you must meet with us so we
can determine how best to assist you.

Please report to: (here was appointment information,
including the ESC office address, the time/date, which was today, and the person
I was to ask for.) If this is not a convenient time, please call to

If you do not keep this appointment, you MUST call
the Food Stamp Consultant by 4:00 PM on or before your scheduled appointment at
the above number toestablish a good cause for missing your appointment. If good
cause is established, you will be rescheduled and must keep that appointment. If
you do not keep that appointment, DSS will be notified which will result in the
loss of your food stamp benefits. This will be your only

We look forward to working with you to find suitable

I've kept the formatting exactly as they sent it. Mama got a copy of this letter as well. Boiled down to its base, it stated that we showed up to the ESC, or we starved to death.

Okay, nothing for it but to go. But what exactly did these jackasses think I've been doing for the past three years. Plus, I've already got a job. It pays nearly nothing, but according to the Great And Powerful State Of North Cakalak, I'm fully employed. So why did I need to report to the friggin' ESC?

A potential problem reared its ugly head almost immediately; I was down to my last $2.00. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have left the house, being my day off, until payday Thursday, when I could tap my account (which was already in the hole) for bus money. But we had to show up Wednesday. Okay, we'll just go to this idiocy and hope we can find some solution once that was out of the way.

Anyway, this morning Mama and I got up and headed for the bus stop. In the heat. The hilarity ensued almost immediately. We passed something dead at the side of the road that was now decomposed past the point of recognition. Mama, being of a more squeamish nature, ran (yes, ran) past it. I was still trying to identify the thing, and therefore wasn't looking up. I thought the bus was coming early (we still had maybe ten minutes to get to the stop) and bolted, untitl I realized that Mama was merely being squeamish.

We reacehd the intersection, and traffic for some reason was more insane than usual. We waited a good. five minutes for the racetrack to die down. As we did, I looked east to check the traffic from that direction and to my horror saw the bus coming. Five minutes early! In order to reach the bus stop, we still had to cross the racetrack and sprint a quarter-mile down the road. The bus would be there in way less time than that.

Taking a step out onto the road, I considered bolting across as best I could, then remembered Mama wasn't as strong a sprinter as me. nothing for it but to wait. We watched the traffic come on and on, looking angrily and impatiently as the bus closed the gap between its current position and where it had to make the turn. Once it made that turn, if we weren't across the street and clearly sprinting for the stop, the driver would assume we were just out for a stroll and keep going. We'd miss our bus and therefore our appointment and therefore our food.

At a break in the traffic, we started out at a dead run. The bus swing through the turn and started to head down the street. There was one slim hope: a major manufacturer has a plant at the corner; sometimes the bus stops there to let workers off...but no. It kept going. So here were two out of shapr fortysomethings running like crazy down the road in hot pursuit of a bus in what had to be 85% humidity. Fortunately, the driver had seen us and waited, but the whole episode only steeled my resolve to get my car back. Somehow.

As least my back felt much better. Had this occurred yesterday, running would have been out of the question. As it was, my lower back muscles gave me a small reminder that I wasn't yet 100%.

We caught our breath and settled in for the trip downtown. About halfway there just as I had settled on the right impertinent question to ask the ESC staff (the letter said "suitable employment" -- who got to define "suitable", me or them?), there was suddenly a sharp BANG from the back of the bus and the smell of smoke quickly followed. The driver pulled over, disappeared around the back of the bus for about 15 seconds, then got back on board and immediately got on the radio. Not good. I couldn't hear what she reported, but after signing off, she informed everyone on the bus that a van would be picking us up in a few minutes so could we all wait outside.

In the heat again. Dammit. And time was running out.

Fortunately, the van was fairly prompt, but there were fourteen people to transport downtown, and several of them were as big as me. Somehow or other we all crammed inside. It was hot. It was humid, and for some reason the driver had the radio tuned to the local hip-hop* station. In the morning. too early for that crap. I called up my internal soundtrack while envying the young man with the iPod two seats up. Along the way, the driver stopped to let four people at three stops that the bus had broken down and he would have to return for them. I felt sorry for those people. That got that look on their faces that I get whenever I think about how I used to get myself from place to place, seemingly a lifetime ago.

About the time I started sweating in earnest**, we reached the Depot. Mama and I headed for our connecting bus, which, thankfully, was still there. The trip to the ESC was thankfully uneventful, but when we got there, about 10 minutes before our appointment time, we found that the building wasn't even open yet!

Out in the heat. Again. Dammit.

And did I tell you that when you're standing waiting in high humidity, each minute seems like an hour?

Finally, the doors opened and everyone (about 20 people by that point) streamed inside. The session was to be a group thing, wherein supposedly the lady running it would explain what the heck was going on. We found out. As a condition of receiving food stamps, Mama and I have to make three job search contacts a week and report these contacts to ESC or lose our Food Stamps.

Again, what did these jackasses think I've been doing for the past three years?

We had to fill out some forms describing what sort of jobs we were looking for (I put down Graphic Design just to shut them the hell up, even though I've lost all hope in getting another job in the field and was considering training as a lab tech.) and set up return appointments with the ESC staffer in a month's time. For successfully completing a month's work search, we'd get a check from the county for a cool 25 bucks.

Oooh, 25 whole bucks. Now I can buy that Lexus I've had my eye on.

And the lady says that when we return, we'll only be here 5 or 10 minutes.

Sigh. So now Mama and I have to run across town. In the heat. Again. Dammit. To show ESC that yes we're fulfilling the directives of The Great And Powerful State Of North Cakalak and looking for work. Like we were already doing. To spend five minutes doing it. For a whole 25 bucks.

Can you say inconvenience? I thought ya could.

Okay, enough ranting. How about a little common sense here? Okay, we're poor. Yes we're on public assistance. But how about assuming that we're also adults capable of handling our own affairs. To be sure, my job search was going slowly, but it was going in a way guaranteed to get me a job or get myself into training for a new career. Now, because of one damn fool, overpaid social worker, I've got to move according to someone else's agenda and bring back a lot of the anxiety and uncertainty of getting a job that will pay the bills****. In other words, instead of expending time and energy on trying to get a good, lucrative job I can enjoy and possibly retire from, I've gotta take the first friggin' burger-flipping job some mook wants to slide in front of me.

And the day ain't over yet. It's not even halfway through. Still got to get through the afternoon. Fortunately, I was able to tap my account via a nearby ATM and get money for the bus. To the tune of another $32 NSF charge. There goes my pay for the week; by the time it fills in the void that is my checking account, I won’t have enough to catch the next bill coming in. In fact, I’m sure I’ll still owe more.

In the heat. Again.


*I think I've related to you before about the barbarous cacophony masquerading as music and calling itself hip-hop, so I won't go back into it here.

**For some reason that doesn't seem to be genetic, I sweat very easily and profusely, and cannot stop until I get under a steady airflow. For this reason, I try very hard to limit a lot of outdoor exertion if I know I'll be away from home for longer than a few minutes. But then of course, I have to run for buses and such.

***Didn't seem to matter that I had already told my idiot social worker that I already had a job. Remember I said I how I hate social workers?

****Of course, I (and I assume, anyone else possessed of at least a minimum of wit) cannot consider jobs that don't pay the bills. Most "service" jobs fall into this category. And another retail job is absolutely, positively out of the question, even if it means starving.



For Want of a Heating Pad

Two events occurred last week of significance (three, if you count the big storms that blew through the other night, but I digress...) One is that I went to the storage unit again (I know, big whoop; but it ties into the post later). I collected some items that we deemed useful, but non-critical: my venerable old Mac, with its Zip drive and monitor; a few of Ness' toys, a few of Mike's items that he thought missing, and a few odds and ends Mama called out the door for me to bring back as I left. Oh, and some dishes we needed (still p.o.'ed that I can't find the lid to the stock pot, however.)

Before I left the unit, I made one final check to make sure I wasn't leaving anything behind that I'd need later. Books? Nope. Cassette tapes (God, am I still using those? Why?) Nope. More toys for Ness? Nope. Mike's swords*? Hell, no! The electric fans? Mm, well, maybe the tabletop. My old heating pad? Well, I have thrown my back out at least once since losing the house, but...nah, I think I can do without it.

Once I got everything bungeed onto my folding cart properly, I headed for home via the two bus transfers and the mile-and-a-half walk the journey would require.

Flash forward to the other significant event of the past week. Yep, threw my back out. Friday. Had to carry a bin full of laundry upstairs. In order to keep from tripping over my own big feet and bouncing back downstairs, I held the bin out from my body so I could see the steps.

Bad move. Really stupid move. And my lower back muscles wasted no time in letting me know just how stupid a move it was. I was laid up all day Saturday and Sunday. I had to call in sick to work, making an intolerable financial situation even more so. And although I don't mind spending a weekend lying in bed reading a stack of books, it's rather hard to do when every move you make brings a new wave of pain and the kids decide "Daddy's hurt; let's act like total savages now!" And it really doesn't help when the Beast sitting in my psyche chortling and going, "Nyah, nyah! See? You could've brought your heating pad, but NOOOOO!"

Even now, I have to sit a certain way in the chair so I can use the computer without looking like an escaped hospital patient. And you should see me hobbling down the street like a crippled caveman trying to look cool and in control when my back is screaming otherwise.

Got to go in to work tomorrow. I might be able to do so...if there's some Tylenol left in the medicine cabinet.

*In a lapse of mentality that perplexes me to this day, a couple years ago, my ex-wife gave Mike a set of shortwords for his birthday. I have no problem with this, as he is quite willing to aid in the defense of the home if necessary, but I made sure to admonish him that his sister was not to come anywhere near those things, and that he was only to have them out of the sheath in an emergency or if he were training with them. Of course, they've been in storage up till now, so the point is kinda moot.


Roughing It

Got an email from lisa6489 with an excellent suggestion. I promised to pass it along. In her own words:

"I had an idea to pass along to you. I realize it's not an
idea that would work in every situation, but it's an idea just the same. The
best one I ever came up with to help myself out of a bad spot. When I found
myself homeless, I sold everything I had. Every stick of furniture. Every
appliance. Everything I could live without. I only came up with $600, but it was
enough for me to buy a camper. All of the furniture and appliances were built
in, so I didn't have to worry about the things I sold. I gave the man I bought
it from an extra $25 to deliver it to a campground for me and help me set it up.
Campgrounds don't do credit checks and they don't normally ask for any kind
of deposit. The water, electric, and trash pick-up is usually all included in
your rent which can run anywhere up to the $350 range. Still very cheap for a
month of bills. If you don't have enough to rent your space for a month, you can
always pay for a day or a week or whatever you can afford to buy you some time
to earn more money. For me, this was a life saver. Even after I was working and
had enough money to move into a house, I still stayed in the camper for many
more months so that I could get the benefit of the very low monthly bills and
being able to put more money in the bank. I will never be without a camper
again. I feel very secure knowing I have it and that I will never be homeless
again. Even if I had to put it in a friend's yard for awhile, I would have a
place to live.

For anyone who doesn't really know about campers,
they have built in beds, dressers, and a sofa at the very least. They don't all
have an air conditioner. They have a propane heater and stove, a refrigerator
that can run on propane and/or electric, a hot water heater, a fully functional
bathroom with at least a shower and most of them have clever hidden beds. The
kitchen table usually drops down to convert into a bed, the sofa pulls out, and
sometimes what looks like an overhead cabinet actually folds down into a
bunk. You can fit a smal



I'm Goin' to...Wally World!

Sometimes people coming into the store ask for items that we either don't carry or are currently out of. When that happens, I apologize that they couldn't find their item and I try to suggest places where they might find it, if they're not willing to wait until we stock it again. If it's a common item, I'll sometimes recommend that they try the nearby Wal-Mart.

You should see some of the reactions I get. Some people react to a suggestion to try Wal-Mart with undisguised disgust. Or look at me with a look of trying to gauge when I escaped the mental ward. Or they chuckle wryly with a tone of "Yeah, when donkeys fly!"

I understand the loathing some people have for Wal-Mart, but I honestly can't say I share that loathing. As far as shopping goes, Wal-Mart fills my bill.

To be sure, Wally World* is nothing like it started out as, and if Sam Walton could come back and see what it's become, he'd probably be mad as hell. And sites like Wake Up Wal-Mart probably keep them more honest than the Wally World board of directors are willing to admit, but most of the things I buy on a regular basis I find cheaper at Wal-Mart than anywhere else. And every penny saved helps.

But I admit it, I'm a shopping whore. I'll buy from whoever's got the cheapest price. If somebody actually beats out Wal-Mart's price on something, I'm there. Especially if it's K-Mart.

Similarly, I'm not too proud to be seen shopping at a thrift store or a flea market. Hey, whoever's got it cheap, that's where I am.

*C'mon, you've heard people call it that, and probably do it yourself on a regular basis. Don't be coy...


Salvage Rights

Been awhile since my last post. (sigh!) I think I should just resign myself to posting when I can until my transportation situation improves.

Speaking of which...

Yet another little annoyance of riding the bus is that I'm constantly spotting perfectly good items that others no longer have a use for, and have dragged to the curb for trash pickup. But the corollary to this is Murphy's Law, which dictates that I'll only see these items when I'm on my way to work or some other place on a schedule, and can't immediately get off the bus and snag the item in question. And I've had to pass up such items as portable TVs*, boom boxes*, computer monitors, computers*, folding chairs, and other items that make life a little easier. A recent frustration is spotting a CD storage rack (which I badly needed at the time) in front of a house whose occupants were moving out. But I had an appointment to keep, and couldn't get the rack right away. to be sure, I made a beeline back to that house as soon as I left my appointment, but by then , someone else had salvaged the rack. C'est la guerre. It worked out, though, because a couple weeks later, I snagged an even better one at Goodwill for 3 bucks.

Still, you can't beat a price of "free for the taking".

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to come across a perfectly good bedframe that someone in an apartment complex decided they didn't want any more. I was in that area's laundromat (and consequently loaded down with several large bags of laundry) when I spotted the thing across the street from the bus stop. I grabbed it up immediately** without even considering how I was going to get the thing home with the load I already had to carry. I managed somehow, but my fingers and shoulders were sore the next day. And Mama and I have an excellent bedfram that was just the right size for our mattress.

Just this morning, while on my way to work, I looked down at the ground while the bus was stopped at a red light and saw a really nice ballpoint pen lying on the ground. I don't know if the previous owner had tossed it away or it had fallen out of a passing car, but I plan to look for it later on the way home. Hopefully no one else has gotten to it yet.

*I've discovered through the years that these itmes, more often than not, are actually still in good condition, they just need very minor repair, or have a short in the power cord, or some other niggling problem.

**One thing that goes away when you're poor is pride. You might believe you're above going through someone else's trash, but if that prise is the only thing standing between you and not having to pay for something...



Project: Projects

Read this article yesterday in the News & Record. It's about one of the public housing projects here in town, Hampton Homes, and how in 2005 it was deemed the most dangerous of the projects here. This fact took me completely by surprise, as I personally have deemed two other local projects, Smith Homes and Claremont Courts, to be far more dangerous. But until this year, I hadn't frequented any projects, so my information is of necessity lacking.

The prevaling social image of The Projects seems to fall within two types: the funny-but-warm social nursery that served as the backdrop of such TV fare as Good Times, and the crime-ridden, drug-soaked, trash-strewn holes sometimes seen on the news as the backdrop to yet more gang violence. Sadly, the latter view is closer to reality for some Projects, including some in North Carolina. However, I can tell you that not all of them are like that. Many Projects, while not squeaky-clean, picket-fenced utopias, are decent places that allow their inhabitants to arrest the socioeconomic death spiral they've found themselves in and hopefully begin the long climb upward.

Basically, it's all in the quality of the inhabitants. Most Project dwellers are decent and hard-working, willing to live and let live and try to teach their children the qualities that will keep them from having to live on the public dole. In some, however, there are those that exist only to steal, kill, rape, vandalize and produce yet another generation of subhumans all too willing to carry on such a disgusting legacy. These are what give most Projects their bad repuations.

As to our Project, we seem to have been very fortunate. Ours is a relatively quiet community. I think part of the reason is that it's off the beaten path. The presence of a police substation less than a mile away is also probably part of the equation. Any crap that goes down can be met by the GPD before the echo dies away. But so far the only untoward things we've dealt with are goose droppings, and one guy a few units up who blasts his music, but only in the daytime. It's so safe so far that I have no qualms about letting Mike or Mama walk to the bus unescorted.

But I still keep a sharp eye out for anything amiss. And Ness never leaves the house without one of us nearby, ever. Probably a good idea for any area of the city in this day and age.

To the decent, hardworking souls in Hampton Homes, Smith Homes, Claremont Courts, and Ray Warren: I know it seems sometimes like you're surrounded by barbarians. But keep your chin up; you've got a weapon the drug-soaked hip-hoppers don't: potential. You'll be gone from The Projects long before that sort even know what they've trapped themselves and their children into.



C'est La Vie

Things have been dull this week, more or less. That's not necessarily a bad thing; I can't handle as much excitement as I could back in my younger, more dynamic days. It's just that the routines seem more tedious than normal.

The heat and the corresponding ozone problems have kept us from getting out of the house much. Mike and Ness don't seem fazed at all, but Mama and I are getting a touch of cabin fever. I'm hoping I can get my Trusty Steed out of the shop before summer's gone, and maybe hit Durham and check on my mom and aunt. My aunt (who's younger than my mom) has developed a medical condition that's thrown my mom into the awkward role of caregiver. I give her what support I can, but I'm immersed in my own socioeconomic quagmire.

July 4th was quiet. Ordinarily, we'd have attended Fun Fourth, Greensboro's Independence Day street festival, but again, the heat and ozone kept us inside (I went to the convenience store to pick up some soda and ice. Walking out the front door was like walking into a blast furnace, and I was suffering asthma symptoms before I'd gotten out of sight of the apartment.) No fireworks for us either, since they're held in another part of town as Fun Fourth, and we would not have been able to catch the bus home (they stopped running earlier than normal since they were on a holiday schedule). It's just as well; Mother Nature decided to join the fun and roll a few severe thunderstorms over us around showtime anyway.

I promised a reader I'd help put the word out for her: Married3x@aol.com wrote me in an e-mail that her sister has become homeless and Married hasn't been able to contact her. I gave her a few options to try and promised to spread the word here. She thinks that her sister is in the vicinity of one of the city's Wal-Marts. Any reader in the Greensboro area with some information please pass it along to Married, eh?

Also, cyberdog1968 has made an excellent point: there are too many of us poor who think that it's cool to simply lay back and let the rest of society take care of them. All they do is give the rest of the poor a bad image by (what?) perpetuating a stereotype. There are many poor who struggle every day with jobs, health and child care, yet the image many in society see is the lazy, shiftless person who could work, but won't, and who uses the welfare system as a first course of action, not a last resort safety net. Sadly, I've run into too many of these people myself. But I take comfort in the fact that they're more rare than many political pundits would have you believe.

I try not to be lazy, but I have my days... Still, even though I take some welfare myself (food stamps and Medicaid, primarily for the kids) I'd rather pay my own way, so that I won't have to keep proving I'm poor to various and sundry social workers. On that note, some developments are occurring that I don;t want to say too much about for fear of jinxing things. Stay tuned.



Saturdays on the Home Front

First, a couple acknowledgements:

Once again, I've let things move toward partisanism and flamewars. I've taken steps to keepm that from happening in the future. One is to keep focus on the local poverty scene. After all, I don't live in New York, Los Angeles, Miami or Hollywood. Thanks, avolo.

Meblogin makes some good points, and does so tastefully, without name-calling or labeling. He's right; in terms of raw contributions, rich people do pay a lot in the form of taxes and in-kind donations. But in my own defense, I was referring to the contributions and donations to charities and direct aid above and beyond the taxes (which are, after all, compulsory, and I think we'd all agree we wouldn't give the government a dime if we didn't have to). No, these things don't have to be given, but it's a bigger person that says: "Y'know, instead of buying that yacht, let's give some money to St. Jude Children's Hospital or the Salvation Army to give others a shot at what we have. Of course, those who are able to do both, hey, more power to 'em.

I had to log off fast from the library's computers last time, so fast that I didn't have time to come up with a title for the post. I've done so now.

And I actually have seen guys in convertible Jags; I just used one as an archetype while trying illustrate my points.

Speaking of guys in Jags, I did some thinking this morning while cleaning the kitchen* and my mind wasn't otherwise occupied. I recalled feeling a wave of resentment when I saw the guy in the Jag the other day. I asked myself why. Why did I feel resentment at the Jag driver? Had he harmed me or my family personally? No. Was I jealous? No. Was he a lawyer, and therefore worthy of my scorn**? Insufficient data. He could've just as easily been a doctor, an accountant or a university official. Was he driving recklessly, or otherwise endangering society? No.

Then why the heck was I so resentful? I asked myself, probably for the first real time in my life. After pondering it a bit, I realized that the reason I was so resentful was that this guy represented all the possibilities I had either missed, squandered or overlooked. He had what he wanted. I didn't. Not sufficient reason to resent someone I didn't even know, sure. But enough to make me think through the reason I resented him.

As a result, I realized I didn;t really resent the Jag guy at all; I resented myself for not being him, and resented myself for having a hardscrabble life. The first I can't do anything about, but the second? Well, there's still time (even though I'll be 44 in less than two weeks). I can still go to training, or luck into a job comperable to the one I had at Trone. Hell, who knows? I might even hit the Powerball.

A little later after rendering the kitchen floor sparkling clean*** I was folding laundry while watching Disney's The Proud Family on TV. I enjoy this show, although I don't often get to sit still and watch it. This time, however, I probably shouldn't have, as we shall see. The episode revolved around Penny's efforts to get elected school president. He opponent, Li'l Wiz, was the son of a huge NBA star turned town mayor, and therefore had his father's resources (including cash) to draw upon. Wizard (the father) jumped into the fray by releasing a commercial slamming Penny's dad. One of the lines in the commercial was "success breeds success; failure breeds...success for someone else."

God, how true, I thought to myself when I heard that line. But then it stuck. And it reminded me of all the failures I'd been through in my own life and how somebody else was probably capitalizing on them right now while I'm stuck here in...

Oh, crap! The Beast!

He had begun a psychic assault so subtle that I didn't know I was in it until he was almost done gleefully shredding every bit of my self-esteem. And I had grown complacent over the ensuing weeks of not having to fight him off. Rallying my thoughts, I quickly remembered where I was in relation to where I'd been just a couple short months ago while hitting him with some of the disco I'd been listening to recently. It was actually easier to fight him off this time, once I recognized what was going on, but I'd spiraled down into near-depression so fast I almost didn't recognize the danger in time.

Gotta watch that; time's too precious to waste fighting him off these days.

*We seem to do a lot of cleaning these days, even if most of our possessions are still in storage.

**I admit I don't like lawyers, but only because I've been at the business end of too many of them. But soft, there's enough angst there for a post unto itself.

***Try this for a general-purpose cleaner; I found the formula in a tenant handbook we were given, although there are probably plenty of ones like in around the web: 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar, all in a gallon of warm water. This stuff cleans almost anything, and costs only pennies. Divide all the above amounts by four to use and store ina spray bottle.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?