It's Cool to be Homeless
I have to pay for my meal!!
I'm sitting in a restaurant with my family, being kindly waited on by our waitress when I notice a young couple sitting on the sidewalk corner across from the restaurant. If going for the bohemian look, they were actually dressed trendier than me by far. They're sitting there, happy, with a cardboard sign that reads "Need $1 for Weed". I think, either they're funny or honest, or both (most likely).
Again, I focus back on my comfortable situation, being waited on, and eating a meal I didn't have to cook. It got me thinking about needs versus wants. Obviously weed isn't (well shouldn't) be a need for the majority of healthy people who don't need it for medical reasons. This couple claimed they "need" money for weed. Of course I realize the humor, but isn't that true of so many people out there who need expensive cars, bigger houses, name-brand everything?
I look out the window again because there seems to be a lot of action over by the homeless couple. One person gives them a full order of food from the restaurant, another gives them a couple jugs of Gatorade, some more people give them cigarettes, and then a guy comes over and talks to them for a minute, takes a small pouch from the homeless man, then leaves. He comes back and returns the pouch to him- obviously the homeless couple got their weed.
All this happens within a five minute or less time span. Hell, it took me 30 minutes to get waited on and receive my food- they're doing better than me. I begin to wonder what I would look like in dreads, beaded jewelery, and a cardboard sign perched on my lap.
At this point, honestly, I'm feeling a little cheated because I've got to pay the waitress and the restaurant for waiting on me and giving me food while this couple outside do absolutely nothing. In fact, I had to tell the waitress what I wanted in order to get it while this couple only asked for weed, in which they got that AND about five more bonus items.
The poor, poor : ((
We are bombarded with images of poor people that pull at our heartstrings yet I have met people, similar to the couple perched on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, that have chosen that lifestyle. Actually in my very liberal, artsy, "free-thinking", organic nearby city of Portland, Oregon, homeless people are everywhere. They are a clan...A MOVEMENT! There is no shame in it- it is simply regarded as "freedom"!
The changing landscape of homeless people has risen to the naked eye- we no longer have to use a metaphorical microscope to search for those people under bridges or cracked out in a shelter or abandoned home. Some are not even homeless, but only down and out like the rest of America. Some regard it as a long and fun camping trip. Many of these people work in shifts on the sidewalk corners, many even look like you and me.
I may not be able to say it's totally cool to be homeless, but it seems to be a growing fad and choice among youth in this area. At the very least, it can be considered acceptable.
Spoiled and poor
My mom is a natural genius for racking up interesting conversations with ANYBODY. The curse that goes along with a mom like that is I get to hear about these conversations from her. She likes to go to a local McDonald's every morning for her usual coffee and quality newspaper reading time- with her gift for gab I seriously doubt she's ever read the newspaper.
She has told me countless times about when she talks to the local homeless who are in there for the $1 menu. She states, the truly homeless people are humble and honestly trying to make it from one day to another- they live this life and don't see an end to their hopeless situation. Many have an incredible story of how they journeyed from one part of our country to the other, following love that failed or family that rejected them.
Truly heartbreaking- I've been there with my mom to listen to some of these stories. One thought that came to mind was how immigrants from other countries are seldom the people who are sitting on the street corners yet they journey all the way from another country and fare better than those traveling across mere states for a better life. It's another example of how we aren't taking care of our own in this country and the American dream is not for Americans. Eventually, and possibly already, we've lost self-respect and pride for our country and our people. Americans will soon be forgotten.
In contrast, there are what I would call spoiled poor- mostly young and still carrying the burden of entitlement that their parents would not provide for them anymore, and now society should. They really believe that going to the streets will give them a better life- at least no one is telling them what to do, right?
Some are wanna-be hippies with a rebellious streak trying to make a grand statement. They do not want the conventional life of working for something, and this represents many youth (homeless or not) of today. It's questionable whether they've experienced a day of work in their life. Some have no goals and like it that way, some want to be "discovered" and become a star. Perhaps they got what they wanted from their parents or they didn't, but either way, they feel entitled, and either way it seems somebody is supporting them. Many were supported by their parents, without a horrible upbringing at all. They come to the street corner in brand-name clothes and a smug smile seeing how much they can get for nothing.
The sad thing is these younger, spoiled homeless fare much better than the real homeless. They put out a sign and get the good life handed to them. I believe people would rather give to them simply because they look better. The couple in my example above were blatant about their marijuana use and still people gave to them, money that would likely be used for drugs. The old crusty homeless man sitting opposite on a street corner from this couple, couldn't get a dime.
If you think about it, there is much allure for young folks to be homeless...nobody telling you what to do, random strangers supporting your habits, your wants, your needs. Your body can withstand the rougher times. The travel, I hear is pretty good too, work on a tan while sitting on a curb.
With all the desirable aspects of homelessness, there are huge ramifications. Many are taken advantage of in brutal ways. I've realized this is why some of the younger, perhaps smarter ones, are banding together and at the very least girls are teaming up with their boyfriends on this venture. They've really thought this through as you can see...
I've seen the young ones new to this lifestyle with sheer joy on their faces, thinking this might really work out for them. I've also seen the tired and weary young ones who have lost the zest for this lifestyle and I can see in their eyes, how this did not turn out the way they thought, and now they are perhaps too deep to see another way. Many without education, job experience...stuck. Realizing, in the great words of Janice Joplin, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose."
Homelessness in the USA is a political, medical, and criminal problem
I want to be serious here about the issue of homelessness in America. It has long been the American way to assist people in other countries and I wonder why we turn our heads the other way on those in our own country. Politicians never seem to follow through with the issue of our homeless- with so many tragedies and natural disasters occurring everywhere else in the world, who has time to notice what is right under our noses? Politically speaking, politicians have done more damage
Majority of the homeless need drug rehabilitation, job placement, medication and even insitutionalized psychological help. They overcrowd our prison systems, there isn't enough psychological resources for them, and with younger homeless people choosing this lifestyle, not out of need, this will only be a growing problem.
- Starting Over; Tragedy and Life Changes
I am no stranger to starting over. Every time I figure it out, life throws me a curve ball. From single to married. From career woman to stay-at-home mom. When I finally had life with a new baby figured out, I got diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Helplessness; Unlearning The Habit That Holds You Back
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." Aristotle