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will work for food

From the annals of FB:


Hi, Don! I'm happy you have a job in this economy and can afford food without worry. I'm sure you realize that, while you certainly work hard for your paycheck, there are many more working hard to have that option.

Reducing beggars to being lazy, though, seems thoroughly out of bounds. Sitting by the side of the road all day, in all kinds of weather so complete strangers can decide whether you're worth a dollar in change in the thirty second they take to drive by seems rather denigrating to me, in addition to being physically tough. Maybe they're not particularly productive; maybe they should be. Maybe they're trying to be - finding work of any kind these days, let alone work at a livable wage can be darned hard.

Since I don't know anything more about you other than what I've seen on your sign, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Assume you're not the entitled jerk this sign makes you seem, and that you are truly frustrated when you work so hard for such little money at the thought someone else wouldn't have to carry the load. (Usually, this traces back to the message we're fed by those who prefer us to get mad at what others like us have, rather than at how little we all have compared to the truly rich... but that's more time than I'll have before my car rolls by your sign, so we'll leave that point for another day!) Just do me a favor and pay it forward? The next time you see a man or woman and have only a few seconds to judge their motives and worth and everything else, try to be charitable. Or better yet, don't judge them at all and give what you can afford, however little that is, without trying to figure out if they're worth it.

Nice to meet you, though! *waves again*



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2012 10:56 am (UTC)
The very fact that his picture DID get on FB, and that people think this is a worthwhile or humorous message gets my back up.

I wish more people had your reaction (and mine) to this sanctimonious sign. And he didn't "just want to say hi"! If THAT was his true motive the sign would just say "Hi! Have a nice day!"
Sep. 15th, 2012 11:03 am (UTC)
I've noticed that a lot lately - people thinking that they are actually better (in a moral sense) than the unemployed or poor. I get that people are frustrated and I understand emotionally why some people might react this way. I can even respect people who think that the way we address situations like this (govt policies and the like) are ineffective or bad. But thinking such people are lazy?

Yeah, you can imagine my reaction. I was going for light-hearted so I could say out of tirade mode.

I actually have a song from "1776" you might like, but I'll slap it in another post.
Sep. 15th, 2012 11:20 am (UTC)
The most charitable spin I can possibly put on it is that perhaps he's been scammed by someone with one of those signs. It does happen.

We turned the tables on a couple of such persons quite by accident when we saw a couple with a sign, indicating that they had an urgent family emergency in another state and desperately needed funds to get there. The DH and I felt sorry for them, but we didn't have any spare cash to give--but we had a credit card with enough to buy them bus tickets. Non-refundable bus tickets. He took them to the bus station, bought the tickets and saw them off. We thought they had a rather glum attitude to our generosity, but put it down to worry about the "emergency". Imagine our surprise to learn (via the credit card co.) that they had attempted unsuccessfully to get refunds on the unused portions of the tickets the next stop up the road. A couple of weeks later, we noticed them again in the same parking lot with the same sign. This time we didn't stop, we called the cops.

But does that mean we judge all such people by such actions now? Nope. As the DH says, the Lord judges us by our own actions and motives-- he'd rather "help" someone who doesn't deserve it than risk NOT helping someone who was truly in need. We don't know, do we?

Sep. 15th, 2012 11:38 am (UTC)
It's actually a very difficult question that I run into all the time here in NYC. Sometimes it really does irk me because it seems like I can't enjoy a meal out at McDonald's or somewhere without being panhandled. Also, I feel very manipulated when some guy gives me a sob story and I figure out it's false. So I do empathize.

I can see people wanting to give to actual charities that do good work. (I donate to a group that distributes sandwiches, fruit, and bottled water to homeless people riding the subway, for instance.) We only have so much money and we can only give it to one person rather than another. I also get that for many people it's very hard to say no to people in situations like this. I've actually had to put myself on a pan-handler budget - I even have a bowl of dollar-coins on my desk, and I add $5-$10 a week depending on how I'm doing financially and after I hand out those coins each week I don't let myself give any more. I can see good people disagreeing on how to give to charity, and I don't want to say "if you don't give to pan-handlers you're a bad person"; I have more exposure and sympathy and patience for this than most, and even I get worn out!

But that's not the impression I get from this picture. It's not someone feeling helpless or worn out or whatever, but rather someone judging the panhandler as not deserving his money. And not because he's lying, but because he's lazy. That's a whole other kettle of fish.
Sep. 15th, 2012 11:55 am (UTC)
You know, sometimes after I see a full day of callousness in my various interactions and am rather exhausted by them, I really look forward to seeing what you blogged that day. Your invariably reasonable, measured and kind response is truly a breath of fresh air.

If you ever run for office, I'll pity you vote for you.

I hope this guy isn't self-aware enough to understand the nature of karma, because if he is, this sign might one day haunt him.
Sep. 15th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Elliska! I do try, though in this world it can be a bit hard at time. Glad to know my blog is such a bright spot.
Sep. 15th, 2012 04:44 pm (UTC)
Yes, there are those who scam and cheat and lie and take advantage - but they tend to be the minority. Most folks who are unemployed would far rather be working.

It's a shame that our world is so polarized now that it becomes second nature to demonize someone for having bad luck - as if they somehow deserved it. It's all too easy to "make someone else wrong so one can feel right." It takes the ability to think and be compassionate to see past that trap.

I can only hope that Don doesn't, through no fault of his own, lose his job so that he's forced to beg for dollars by the side of the road to feed his children. The reality, however, is that if this is a lesson that Life needs to give him, it will happen - in which case, I hope that he encounters generous, compassionate people.

And when he's in a better place again, I pray that his attitude will have moderated.

For now, however, all one can do is shake the head and pray that he never needs to find out that he's wrong.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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