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I will start this one with the most sincerely grateful acknowledgment that I have been blessed with a relatively comfortable life. I will never deny that; and I will always keep it in mind when speaking on topics of which I may otherwise have little or no knowledge.

That being said, I have seen (the same?) Homeless (or Out of Work) man at the off-ramp near Comstock for the last 15 months.

15 months is a LONG time. In fact, children are conceived and born in less time. 15 months is a long time to be standing, holding a sign, that asks for people to give you money. You are asking people to give you money for standing and holding a sign. Little Caesar’s does this. So does the tax service company in the strip mall this time of year. Sure, you may have to wear an Uncle Sam outfit, but they will give you money to hold a sign. And it’s probably more than you got in the last 15 months at the off-ramp from the highway.

What I am more amazed about is from where this guy originates. There is no residential area for at least 1-2 miles of this selected location. So, I expect he walks here each day, season in and season out, passing several dozen businesses along the way. Each one has probably posted a “Hiring” or “Help Wanted” sign in the last year. Now that’s a sign that might actually generate some money for this guy.

And I wonder if he knows the sign guy at the exit immediately west of his. I have seen that guy not as frequently, but once in a while over the last year there.

This isn’t Chicago, people. I’m not getting off the Kennedy at North Street. This is Southwest Michigan.

Yes, I understand that the economic outlook for this part of the country is not particularly sunny, but we aren’t completely belly up yet either. There are jobs to be done, and people will pay. It may not be a huge amount, and it may be menial labor, but it’s an honest living and income. Imagine if you had made minimum wage for the last 15 months. That’s a lot of potential income. And that would mean you should file a tax return, which would make you eligible for not only a return, but also for that nifty little extra check the government will be sending out this year.

At the end of the day, I am sorry you are homeless and/or out of a job. You aren’t the only one. There are boatloads of services in Kalamazoo to help you. There are programs to help you get back on your feet. It can be done. Remember “The Pursuit of Happyness”? It’s based on a true story.

But this isn’t a blog about homelessness. This is a blog about people who are unwilling to help themselves. Different than unable. The unwilling stand on the same corner for 15 months, watching the same people drive by. The unwilling are comfortable not trying to better their station in life. The unwilling expect the rest of us pay their way.

But I am unwilling, too. I am unwilling to throw money at you because you are trespassing on a spot of land and holding up a sign asking for my charity. I am unwilling because I know there is a brand new Salvation Army one exit west that’s purpose is to help people like you get some direction. But here you stand, having not moved in 15 months. Whatever your circumstances are, you are accepting them and succumbing to them, because you are unwilling to take that next step to get going in a direction for yourself.

15 months is a long time. A step a day would have you nearly 500 steps from where you started. And I might be less unwilling if I saw these steps you were taking because you were willing.

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One thought on “Standing on a Corner (or, Paying Your Own Way)

  1. Pingback: Break with Tradition (or, a Sour Taste in My Mouth) « Thursday Morning Meditations

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