Friday, November 07, 2003

Economic Recovery: Homelessness, Part II (A Rant)
And how do you get a job when you don't have an address to put down on the form or where somebody can send you mail, and you don't have a telephone number where somebody can contact you? Go to city services you say? But city services have been cut to the bone and the well-meaning folks who work there are desperately underpaid and horribly overworked and burning out with a white-hot flame. You don't want to pay the taxes that it would cost to provide them with services, anyway, do you? You're in the middle class, you folks feel so terribly put upon if anybody expects you to help anybody else.

But wait. You don't think anybody is hungry or homeless, right? You don't know about any of these things, do you? You don't go into the city because it is dirty and you are frightened and you certainly don't want your kids to know that every day isn't about McDonald's commercials and Kodak moments. Yeah, you. You who home school your kids and teach them intolerance and Truth because they might bump up against somebody different if they mingled with kids with accents and different skin colors whose parents don't have the luxury of sitting at home with their kids all day because they are trying to earn enough to feed those same kids.

And even if, God forbid, you are forced by circumstances beyond your control to end up in the city, you put on your blinders rush through and go back to your sterile house as quickly as you can, You don't see the women, or if you do it is only to shy away from the one standing on the corner near the convent with her worn crutch leaning against the wrought iron fence, shaking a paper cup with a few coins in it, the one who might touch your sterile middle-class skin with germs and dark.

Oh, I forgot. You are a good God-fearing American, the salt of the earth, the core of our society. You don't produce shit. You take and suck the earth dry and think you are entitled because your parents or grandparents were born in the right place and could afford to send you to college or even because you were born in the right place at the right time. But it is ok because you believe. You believe that the people in charge were ordained by God and you believe in manifest destiny and keeping the immigrants under control.

No, you aren't a bad person. You might even take your old clothes to the shelter or more likely have them picked up by some do-gooder truck that phones you to make an appointment and you leave those worn clothes neatly packed in bags by the curb so you don't have to come into contact with the people who drive the trucks. Well thank you. The women are grateful. Just like they are grateful that you don't see them and stare at them and judge them every morning when they step outside in twenty-four degree weather holding their heads up struggling to get through another day.

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