His Story

Occasionally I run across a blog and I think, "man, I wish I had written that". Yesterday was one of those days. My friend Ryan posted the following on his blog page and I thought is was worth passing along. This is "His Story"...

"It was a fairly pedestrian day in Lower Archdale. At least nothing ostensibly out of the ordinary. This was the true up to the point I left the local Food Lion. I was encountered by something that I would have never anticipated. "Hey would you like to buy a cell phone?" said the man from across the way, "it has a camera and text messaging." In my mind I didn't know what to think. First of all, I thought it strange that someone would go to this length to make a sale. In support of this theory, the man was wearing a heavy work coat, and had a thick grey beard. So I moved to the next logical answer, he had stolen it.

Now I'm a very defensive person. It's in my DNA. My father warns me about everything, all the time. I try to avoid some of my fathers more annoying habits, although I catch myself incessantly warning my wife to be careful. As if she's going to go on some wild trip and drive around blind folded. Of course she's going to be careful. So here I am, hands full of groceries. Items like a gallon of milk, cereal, and sunny delight. And I'm involved in this strange transaction with a man who doesn't look like a phone salesman.

Recently, I purchased a new cell phone. It has many of the bells and whistles that make cell phones a sort of life support for the modern man or woman. You know, Tetris and text-messaging. A likelihood due to being a member of the Nintendo generation. The present generation could easily be defined as the text-messaging generation. (Personally, I enjoy the text message. It allows you to get to the point without the sometimes unpleasant niceties and small talk.) So, to say the least, I wasn't in any need for this cell phone. Aside, from the obvious reasons.

This man refused to take no for an answer, and preceded with his sale pitch. At that point I stepped out of my customarily polite communication style. "Seriously man, I don't need your cell phone," I said. The impromptu sales pitch morphed into something much more commonplace in the modern social sphere. A solicitation of charity, not business. Not that this wasn't apparent upon contact, but nonetheless obscene. "In all honesty buddy, I need some money for a hotel room," he conceded. I ignored him. Until he said, "It's Christmas man. I've been homeless for about a week." Freeze frame, this is where I stepped further out from my complaisance. A few years ago I might have fallen for this renunciation of all dignity and self-reliance, but presently I'm at a different juncture in my life. I said to the man, "Buddy. I'm not even thirty and I work my ass off for forty hours a week. I can barely support my wife and I, and now I have a kid on the way. Sorry if I don't feel sorry for a guy that's given up." It's funny, as if I had this written down it surged from my tongue venomously and without regard to how insensitive it was. I didn't know this guy. He might have really been down on his luck. Who am I to judge? Why do I feel that I get to put him in his place?

I'll tell you why. This guy is one of millions of men and women, black or white, and handicap to war hero, to just plain lazy that has thrown the towel in on the one thing they have left. They've given up a life of responsibility for a life of parasitic complacency. It grates my skin and rattles my nerves more than a relentless stench. It must be simple to make your problems, problems no more? The panacea to one and all obligations.

I know, pardon the liberal, wait. . .why is the liberal going off on the homeless? This is where I make a stand. See the goodwill that was once expressed by myself ,when it comes to the less fortunate, has been fleeting for some time now. I've been prodded, pushed, and stolen from by enough of the less fortunate that the very thing that they are asking for is the very purpose of my job. I have to get up every morning. I have to smile at people I don't like. I have to say yes to stuff I want to say no to. And I have to stay somewhere I don't want to be. Granted, I've been doing it for a lot shorter of a time than some people. But that doesn't help the situation.

Then there's the whole homeless versus the less-fortunate comparison. You can be both homeless and less fortunate. Neither are mutually exclusive from a lot of common plights. I think the distinction is being helpless and choosing to be helpless. If you are clever enough to go around begging, and enterprising enough to come up with a great sales pitch--you can work. Don't you think janitors had to swallow their pride at some point?

On the way home, I was encumbered with some sense of regret. Retrospective reflections had overcome me and I started to consider if I did the right thing? The man might have been starving, and had really been given a bad deal. Maybe he was a veteran? Perhaps he had every penny to his name stolen from him? This very well could be true, or some variation of tragedy but he will have to play the odds that some other man or woman will give him what he seeks. Because I've given all that I will give to someone who accosts me with a sob story. I've given a man a ride before. I've purchased gas for a lady before. I've given a man my lunch before. Lord knows how many times I've handed over the change in my wallet for a telling of unoriginal fiction told by another's lips. This doesn't make me a saint. On the contrary, it probably makes me a sucker.

The crux of the issue is that most crime is an effect of desperation. How long does it take a person to be denied before they take it into their own hands? The very necessities of life are stolen from good people everyday. It spans from money, to sex, to possession. I wonder how long does it take? What's the threshold for a man to take what he wants versus beg?

In the future, my charity will go to those who don't deem themselves worthy of it by default. The truly helpless are guileless and unassuming. It is in them that I feel sympathy. The aforementioned are nothing more than crooks who con, swindle, and eventually steal from the good people of this world.

The worlds problems are still going to be problems long after I'm gone. War, crime, disease, racism, bigotry, and hatred will all outlive the most of us. Dare I say, immortality is their fate?

I guess we have to fight the good-fight one battle at a time? Maybe we pick the ones we feel moral or right, and save the others for another idealist? Who knows.. .? Just keep praying and try to envision a better world where your ideas are embraced and practiced , and insist on your values and hope that you chose the right one. Because if you did, maybe we can deal the immortality of evil a bad hand? It could be the beginning of the fatal blow once thought impossible?"

"The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past while every sinner has a future." Oscar Wilde

"A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." Dwight D. Eisenhower

"It's a shame that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day is work. He can't eat for eight hours; he can't drink for eight hours; he can't make love for eight hours. The only thing a man can do for eight hours is work." William Faulkner


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