Word count: 452 / Reading time: 2 minutes or less
Thank you, Daily Post, for today’s serendipitous prompt. I observed something yesterday that made me very angry. Last night, I was already thinking of what I might write about that event today, and one of the words tumbling through those thoughts was “theory“.
Sadly, like many American cities, mine has a lot of homeless people. During the day, any given street corner throughout Nashville and its several suburbs may feature one or more people holding up signs asking for money or selling “street papers” like The Contributor. These papers are sold to homeless or formerly homeless individuals at cost; then, the individuals sell them for a set price, usually one or two dollars.
I am sympathetic toward people much less fortunate than I am, so when able, I contribute money or buy a paper and give a little extra. I also try to make sure that I always have a care envelope on hand containing a $5 gift card to Wal-Mart, a $5 gift card to McDonald’s, and a current list of local care agencies with address & phone number because I prefer to donate that rather than cash. I try to help, but I take steps to ensure the recipient can’t go out and spend my donation on drugs or alcohol.
So what I saw on my way to enjoy my daughter’s school strings symphony concert last night really got me riled up. As I approached her school, there were two men I hadn’t seen there before standing at one of those street corners frequently occupied by people holding up signs asking for help. But these guys weren’t standing, they were leaning and stumbling and appeared to be drunk. When I got close enough to read their signs, this is how they read: “Need $ 4 Pizza N Beer” and “Too ugly to be ah prostitute”. Reading those words, I became so outraged that I got lightheaded. I thought to myself “What on earth are those men thinking? Are they operating under a theory of radical honesty, or what? Do they not realize they’re damaging the cause of every other person in need standing at a corner holding up a sign?”
Poverty, homelessness, hunger, and addiction are bad. Admitting addiction is good, a necessary step in the recovery process. But telling people you’re going to spend the money they give you on alcohol? That’s beyond bad. That’s stupid and harmful. Unfortunately, the general public already tends to view most panhandlers as lazy alcoholics or drug addicts. People like the aforementioned men do their fellow sufferers a great disservice.
Am I wrong to think so harshly of those two men? What do y’all think? Please let me know in the comments below!