Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Another morning in the city.  I was running early and decided to stop at McDonalds to see what was on the $1 menu for breakfast before catching my connecting bus.  I noticed the lady in front of me in line.  Nice clean blond hair, bright red shirt, 40ish, and an energetic step.  She was smiley and seemed like a morning person, not like I who drag myself along for the first couple of hours.  What caught my attention is that someone asked her for 50 cents and she said she didn't have it but would give them what she did have. 

While I was waiting I also noticed that McDonalds had a help wanted sign.  Full or part time, all shifts.  Momentary I contemplated applying (if you have read my book you know I am a big fan of the corporation for many reasons).  I quickly decided my days were too long already and I just don't have the energy to work two jobs like I used to.  I has happy that in this economy that the available job would get someone back to working and bringing some money home.

We both got our food and parted ways, I to my bus stop and she to cross at the corner.  Then she crossed the other corner.  Then the light changed and she started to cross the next corner.  I was immediately puzzled because why would she cross three streets instead of just crossing the one? 

What she did next answered my question and surprised me.  She pulled out a sign and started between the cars waiting for the light to change and was panhandling.  It dawned on me that just as I was going to my job she was going to hers.  I could not help but wonder who of us would make the most money that day.

Months have past since I first wrote the encounter above and saved it as a draft.  Since that time the woman mentioned has showed up everyday for "work" as a panhandler.  She appears clean and healthy.  Often she meets a friend who is in a wheelchair who had a cast on her leg. They share the corner and I assume the proceeds.  I noticed last week that the cast is gone but she is still in the wheelchair.

When did it become okay to make it a lifestyle of depending on others for things we should be doing ourselves?  When did it become acceptable to take from others instead of putting forth the effort to better our own situation?  As I watch the panhandler I wonder how she came to this decision. I wonder what would have been different for her if she had applied her energies gaining new skills or searching for a job. Did she one day wake up and in desperation start this and found it worked and just kept at it? Yes, I can just go out and ask her and sometime I probably will. For now I watch and wonder.

According to the Gallup poll the countries current unemployment rate  is 8.9%.  Those classified as under employed is 18.8%.  4% consider themselves suffering and 43% consider themselves struggling.  And this is an improvement from what we have been in the past.  So, is the glass half full or is it half empty?  When posed with this question we think we have to choose one or the other but the answer is BOTH.  If we choose half full we are considered optimists, half empty we are pessimists, BOTH we are realists.  Whichever group you are in right now there is probably room for improvement.

We know that unemployment and the job search can be frustrating, tiring, and discouraging.   This is especially true if the bills are piling up and the stress of the situation is mounting.  For those who have conquered this hurdle congratulations!  For those still searching or maybe even have given up searching I wanted to share an excerpt from the book that has always helped me during those times:

Get a job
As an apartment manager, which I do in addition to a full time job, running a ranch, and keeping up the house, I am increasingly concerned about the number of able bodied adults who would rather get behind on their bills than to look for a job.
Yes, the job market is tough. But, if you get up at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m., don’t bother to shower or shave why would anyone ever want to hire you? Lazy. An old fashioned word that is very unpopular these days. Yes, I’ve heard about all the hard luck stories and how tough it is and how you just need a little help this month to get you by but it amazes me how a person can have too much pride to work a minimum wage job but not too proud to ask for an extension when the rent is due. I guess the only ones they are kidding is themselves and then get bitter because the help and patience of others runs out.
One thing I see: a hard worker will work and find something to do whether they get paid for it or not. A lazy person will find all the reasons why he just can’t do it today.
But why would you want to do any of these things for free? Here are some of the reasons:
1.     You will get all those projects and tasks done that you don’t have time to do while you are working. Many projects can be done for free or at minimal cost so you don’t have to break the bank and your family will love you for getting the house, cars, and yard maintained.
2.     You will meet new people in the community. Someone may hire you or refer you to someone who can.
3.     Some will repay your work with what they have even if it is not cash. This is especially prevalent in farming communities where you could get a freezer full of meat or corn for a few days work.
4.     You will be making a valuable contribution to individuals and organizations in your community.
5.     You will be known to all as a roll up your sleeves and get in there kind of person. Employers look for this.
6.     You will sleep better at night knowing that you have accomplished more than just watching Jerry Springer.
7.     Did I say that others will see what a hard worker you are and may want to hire you?
Most of all, your dignity and self-respect will remain intact and it will show as you go look for jobs.
Right now, I have fences to paint, pens to build, and a room to get sheet-rocked. I have no cash. BUT, I have a freezer full of steak, hamburger, and roasts. I also have enough wood to heat a house for the winter. Bartering tools. The hard workers I know are too busy to take on anymore. And the others I wouldn’t hire. And, it must be that no one else will either because they are still unemployed.
The moral to the story is clear. There is lots of work to be done. We need more hard workers to do it.
Oh, and of course, there are those who do a great job the first time and then you hire them back again and they start padding their hours, getting sloppy with their work, or not showing up when they say they will. Guess what? It only will happen once or twice and I will tell others who ask. Good and bad reputations do get passed around.


Practical Parsimony said...

I was talking to a man who came to give me car advice, not work. He made the remark that he rarely goes outside at all and has curtains drawn. Yet, he cannot find a job, has not cleaned the house in years. His teen daughter does ALL the cooking. If she is ill or too tired, they "go pick something up." You know that means fast food. She just was diagnosed with diabetes and he is much overweight.

He agreed to do something at my house and suddenly is always too tired, too busy with his own things, as he put it. Attending church and buying groceries are the only things he does.

A friend agreed to do something for me, came here, and then palmed it off on the guy. I did not ask him. He just could not say no to my friend nor me. He just stares at me and tells me how much he hurts in about forty places.

I certainly could not recommend him for a job! He desperately needs money, puts in applications where he knows he cannot get a job, cannot get unemployment, and never seeks a job because they are all beneath him. It would hurt his pride, he says. It would hurt his back. It would hurt his shoulder.

I truly know he hurts, but not like he says. He only hurts when there is talk of doing something for me, like pick up a tarp. Oh, if he mentions something to do with his house, he does hurt then.

Carol Schultz said...

I guess unemployment can also give a good excuse to the lazy who are looking for one.