Know Your Rights
I guess an explanation is in order. I've gotten so many e-mails that have expressed no small degree of irritation/disappointment that I won't be doing therapeutic posts anymore (including my favorite from Moondust) that I feel the need to explain.
The blogs where I just throw some introspection out there have brought me nothing but grief, which all kind culminated yesterday. It's been going on for months, but yesterday was the final nail in that very personal coffin. I may do a private blog at some point, but as of now, this blog will be anything but the emotional stuff. I just don't feel like hearing the backlash or the mixed messages. I guess that's why paying a therapist is good. Onward, Christian soldier.
If you've been stuck in rush hour traffic in Eureka, California the last few days you may have noticed someone at the corner by Adel's. It's a woman with a poorly made sign saying that her family needs help. She's got her daughter (10 or so?) in tow. I don't know if she is really in need or is trying to elicit the sympathy quarter, but I can't help but feel bad for the kid and kind of want to slap the woman silly. I guess it's not as bad as the homeless people with dogs.
What is this teaching the kid? If the kid is smart she'll grow up to be the exact opposite of her mother. Unfortunately, dumb usually begats dumb. I'm not saying this family doesn't need help, but I deal with people who need help five days a week. You can see it in their eyes and mannerisms. They look beaten and tired. This woman does not. Me thinks the lady lies.
For the past few days I've watched the cars waiting at the light. I've watched her, bored daughter by her side, walk up and down the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, hoping to get someone to roll down his or her window and stick out their hand. I watch people not wanting to make eye contact. I watch them go about their business, isolated in their Accords as this woman desperately wants what they are most likely working for.
In a Utopian world, there would be no begging and everyone would have what they need. In a fair world, her family and neighbors would take care of her. In a just world she would be left to her own devices with no social systems to fall back on, just her wits and strength. In a world that tries to be all these things she'll be begging on the streets either to scam or because the safety nets have failed her or haven't met her needs.
I wish her daughter luck. I hope that in ten years or so I don't see her on the corner working or begging. I hope she sees where that cardboard sign leads them, and I hope she chooses a different road. This is Humboldt, though. The beggar's path is the most traveled.