Here’s to all of us who have it made, and worked our asses off to establish this middle-class existence, and live in a beautiful home like our parents did, and send our kids to nice public schools, or maybe even a private one when times are good.
Here’s to us, who can afford to eat organically, wear our yoga and gym suits to the market and shop at Whole Foods and put our carriages back into their corral, not like those Wal-Mart people who wear their pajamas to the store leave them where they stand when emptied of mass produced food product and second rate produce.
Here’s to us college educated folk, who worked for four or five years earning our degrees so we could contribute to society, and support those loungeabouts wh0 never tried to be part of what we have, and suck the life out of our economy by not applying themselves, and using their environment as an excuse to be lazy.
Here’s to us.
Sometimes my own smugness makes me want to puke.
I’m glad I spent a few decades in the inner city working with those loungeabouts. I gave me perspective, but more important; gratitude.
From the book, Responding:
It took a while to spot her, she blended in with the litter covering most of the empty lot. I’ve learned to look closely when called to this address. With nowhere else to go, a lot of homeless people gather here. A couple of old chairs sat empty around a lonely tree, used condoms, discarded clothing, broken glass and Mabel were all that remained from the most recent gathering here. It was cold, forty degrees or so and getting dark. I walked up to the lump on the ground, bent over and shook it. The lump stirred.
“Hey buddy, let’s go,” I said. When I peeled the blanket covering her face I realized it was a woman, one I had never seen before, not one of the “regulars.”
“What are you doing here?” I asked her.
“You can’t stay here, it’s cold and getting dark.” She looked confused, then started to cry.
“What happened to me?” she asked.
“You’re sleeping in an empty lot. You look intoxicated. I’m going to take you to the hospital,” I told her.
“I just want to go home,” she said.
“Where do you live?”
“Right off Prairie Avenue.” She gave me the address and we walked her toward the rescue.
“Pull your coat together,” I told her.
“I’m not cold.”
“You pissed yourself and I don’t want these people to laugh at you.” She looked down and saw the wet spot between her legs. That was it. The tears ran like rivers down her dirty face as she closed her coat, covering the evidence. People stood to the side watching us with wary eyes as we stepped in and closed the door.
“I’m not like them,” she said to me as we left the scene. She lived in a dreary, three-story tenement house on one of the roughest streets in South Providence. I walked her past six or seven people who had gathered on the front steps and up the stairs to her second floor apartment. When her sister opened the door, I caught a glimpse inside. I saw why she found comfort with the homeless people she spent the afternoon with. Mabel walked in, gave me a shy smile as she closed the door, not wanting the gang partying in her front room to see the connection. I walked back outside, careful not to rub against the stairway walls.