Tag Archives: alcohol

Us and Them

 

D7EDA5C8-A2DA-46A9-8884-35C41A35A051I often have fancied that they have some sort of secret union, though I know it’s impossible.   There are certain rules to they must uphold as well:

1. You must use union approved brown corrugated cardboard with black lettering

2. You must use either fantastical yarns  or absolute truth on said cardboard

3. You must be able to stand for long amounts of time on your feet

4. Working in inclement weather is a must

5. You must wear tattered, ripped, holy, or frayed clothing on the job

6. A sad or dispondent look is recommended although a managing a smile and thank you when earnings are received is a must

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Amherst, MA Used to be a conservative  town years ago, but not anymore.    Perhaps that is why it is a boon for so many panhandlers and why they flock here.  The bleeding heart liberals see contributing towards the less fortunates as helping the social justice movement.

On any given day the same folks stand on their designated corner donning signs:

”Tent collapsed.  Anything helps.  God Bless”

”Today’s my birthday, out of work. Out of luck. “

”Homeless vet, down on my luck.  God Bless”

”I’m not going to lie, I just need a beer”

”Tent blew away, need help, Thank you.”

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Now mind you, it was the middle of February in New England and it occurred to me that with all these recent tent collapses and blow always happening, maybe they could pool their resources  together and go in on a new tent, that’s more sturdy.

Birthday boy, well it seems as though everyday is his birthday because he keeps holding onto that sign day after day. Now I feel bad in his case,  as he just can’t seem to remember when he was born, poor thing.

The homeless vet really gets to me because we have a bus system that can drive him to the VA Hospital in nearby Leeds, MA for $1.50 where a social worker could help him get housing, medical care, the works.

Which leads me to our last fellow the man saying he wants money to buy beer.  Addiction of any kind brings shame upon its victims.   Until we start recognizing that all of the people profiles listed above  are most likely suffering with addiction and/or mental health issues we will not begin to address the problem.   Driving by and stuffing money in their hand is bringing them closer to death.

You see, I used to be afraid when my car stopped next to a panhandler.  I felt awkward and avoided making eye contact with them through ny window pane of glass that separated us.  Instead, I averted my eyes down at the brake pedals or at my cell phone, the radio, anywhere but their face.  Because it triggered an awkward feeling in me.  Why had they fallen in this situation? Why would anyone want to stand here for 8 hours in the harsh elements begging instead of having assured income with the security of a job?  Because they have to.  They have fallen that far down the rabbit hole.

The day that awkwardness disappeared in me, was the day I recognized them as my equal.  I could just as easily be them, given the right conditions.  From that moment I began to roll my window down and talk.  In those short conversations I have gotten to know a few people.  We smile now and we wish each other well.

I don’t have all the answers.  Maybe safe needle exchanges are in order.  Maybe more drug courts.  More access to long-term treatment programs.  Meanwhile,  I will treat people with kindness and dignity.  I will buy someone a gift card to McDonalds.  I won’t give them money knowing it could go to heroin, meth, or alcohol.  Enabling will only serve to help kill people.

There is no us and them.  We are the same. They ARE somebody.  Someone’s son or daughter.  Someone’s husband or wife.  Somebody’s mom or Dad.  Struggling and in the grips of a powerful addiction.  A disease that will kill them if they don’t receive help.  Let’s not forget before they were panhandling, they had great lives too.

 

 

 

 


Blogging is like confession, without the Hail Marys and Our Fathers

nun_ruler

 

It’s so true isn’t it?

I come here and unload all the shit that churns around in the recesses of my mind and my soul.   All the benefits that comes with the process of confession, none of the fear of being chastised and told to repent.

So there’s something inherently therapeutic about the whole thing.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch Pope Benedict resigns….


yEARNing

Ever since I can remember, I have had this ache in my heart.

A yearning to be loved.

It never goes away.

Like the speaker on a stereo system, sometimes the volume is more quiet and sometimes it is blaring at me.

But it never goes away.

Sometimes the ache to be loved hurts so bad it brings me to tears, it’s like I am bleeding from the inside out.

******

I was twelve when I smoked my first joint because my brother grew it and distributed it.   I took my first shot of Smirnoff at the same age.  I realized it it numbed me out, it blotted out the pain in my heart some and turned down that volume of my heartache.

Love…..love is  better than pot, better than booze, it was like popping powerful opiates but better.

It makes me feel like every thing in the world is safe and going to be okay.

Love makes me feel like I am coming home again.

******

But money can’t buy you love.

I wish I could annihilate this yearning inside me.  I wish there was a switch I could shut off, or get rid of this gaping hole in my heart.

💔