The other day, Craig and I decided to meet for breakfast in Newburgh. I thought this was a great idea, because we haven’t seen each other in quite a while. He had to pick up some parts in the area, so it was easy for us both.
I had a pretty uneventful drive to the diner. I took Interstate 84 East and got off the Newburgh exit…right before the bridge. Once I was off the highway and rolling to a stop, I noticed someone standing at the end of the off ramp holding a sign. As I got closer, I realized it was…I am not even sure what to call it. Here, I took a photo…
I think he may have seen me taking a picture of him, but I couldn’t help myself. The sign he was holding read, “Homeless, please help.” Now, if I was a better citizen than I am, I surely would’ve pulled over to give him directions to the diner I was going to. I mean, if he looked to his right, he could’ve seen it. If I was an even better citizen, I would’ve gone to the diner and picked up an employment application and brought it back to him.
This whole thing got me wondering…how should a person respond in a situation like this? The first reaction for a lot of people is to get mad and blame the person for being in the position they are in. I mean, aren’t the rest of us working our butts of trying to make a living? How can we be expected to help someone who is in perfect working order (I mean, he was standing there and got to that spot himself) who we think isn’t trying as hard as us?
You know, when people are young, they are taught all sorts of stuff…one thing we are taught is to help people. If we listened to our parents, we all would’ve pulled over to help this person who saw standing there asking for help. Somewhere, sometime, as we were growing up, we all changed. Not many of us help all that many people anymore. Sure, if we know who you are, we will help, but not so much for strangers. I oftentimes think about what happened to us. Why don’t we help anymore?
One of the big things with me is anger with certain situations. I remember a few years ago, I was reading a newspaper and there was an article about “Habitat For Humanity.” This has always been one of my favorite programs. I did have a little tiff with them a few years ago though. As I was reading the article, I learned that the person these wonderful people built a brand new house for was a local single mother of three. There was a picture of her standing there in the driveway with her three children. Off to the side, was her boyfriend. He was a dirty looking, skinny fellow standing there…smoking a cigarette. Hmmm, that made me think. Mind you, this was after the big increase in the price of cigarettes. I thought about how nice it was that these people now had a nice house to live in. Then, I pictured that skinny little dirty boyfriend sitting in some donated loveseat, smoking a cigarette and maybe drinking a beer. That kind of peeved me because I am not sure if he had any blisters on his hands from helping with the construction of the house.
Perhaps, through the years, we noticed that more and more people who ask for help, do things in their lives that we don’t agree with (and cost money), such as smoking, drinking, drinking soda, eating potato chips, driving gas guzzlers, shopping at Wal-Mart for junk, etc…
I am not sure if I told you this story already. One time, I was in the local Hannaford buying some groceries. As I got in line to check out, I noticed a family in front of me using food stamps. I was thinking about how hard up these people must be to be using food stamps. To be honest, I don’t even know what food stamps are, but I do know you gotta be kind of hard up to use them. I thought I shouldn’t judge them. Then, I noticed what they had on that little conveyor belt. I saw all this name brand stuff. It all looked very appetizing. I looked down in my basket and noticed a bunch of Hannaford brand things. Wait, I did have name brand tofu. I guess that could make up for the name brand “oatmeal cream pies” they were buying on discount. Whatever. They left and I started putting my stuff on the conveyor belt. What I didn’t notice was that the father had left the store a few minutes earlier to pull the car up. I saw a minivan pull up and park in front of the store. I noticed the family walk toward and stop at the minivan. I noticed them put the groceries into the minivan. Then, I noticed that the minivan was only a few years old. I looked out past their late model minivan at my nine year old Honda Accord. I thought to myself, “Hey, the family using food stamps has a nicer car than me.”
I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain. Who am I to judge people who are in need, especially when they smoke and drive nicer cars than me? Well, at least they eat better than me too. Man, I feel myself turning into a conservative. I remember I read somewhere a few years ago, something like this, “If you aren’t a Democrat in your twenties, you are heartless. If you aren’t a Republican in your forties, you are an idiot.” If was something like that.
Well anyway, Craig and I had a nice breakfast. I left and he left. On the way home, I was on the phone with a realtor and Craig called me. I couldn’t pick up, so he left a voicemail. He told me that he saw the bum I was talking about. He said, “Hey, I just passed by your bum…he was drinking a beer.” Enough said.