It was just another day, and another pull up to a red light off the freeway. And these days none of us who live in a city of any size are shocked to see folks standing at the dump out of these exits with signs that say anything from "will work for food" to other variations of such.
Now, I will say that if I have cash in my wallet, I often give it to these people. I just feel like such a heel passing them by as if they are invisible, even in my old, slightly rusted car, and even with my own financial fears, but with a belly that isn't aching and a roof over my head.
And, I like the idea that this aide is direct. And for me, I'm really not much concerned how the money I give is spent. I'm really not.
Of course I hope it's parsed out to provide a couple of good meals. But maybe it just buys a bottle of Jack Daniels. I don't care, not my business. If you give on this direct of a level, you give without question.
I know I can, and have, given through agencies that will see that monies given come with stipulations, and that's fine too. But at least on the freeway exits, I know there is no middle person, no bureaucracy, no salary between me and the people I give to. Just the relief of some bucks in one's pocket.
So yesterday I pulled off an often traveled freeway in my town, and there she was. OMG, she had the face of an angel. Skin so young and untroubled by age, eyes beautiful, yet reflective of so much innocence lost at way too young of an age.
To be frank, I'm used to seeing mostly men at these sad outposts, and they are maybe more able to keep a face that does not portray how VERY hard it is when you arrive at this point in your life, how very humiliating it is to stand there with that sign in sweltering heat or freezing cold. And to know that a hundred cars will pass you by before one will stop and dish out a couple of bucks.
But she could not keep that face. She looked like she wanted to crawl into a hole in the ground. Her sign said "I have no where to live or sleep, please help me." My heart
spasmed all over the place, because this was a day I didn't have any cash in my wallet, and of course, I could hardly give her my credit card. I had nothing to give her.
And I just had to pass her by.
It's almost 48 hours after, and her face still haunts me. Which is not to say that she was more special or more desperate than any of the many others who are reduced to this. Just that she was an extra special bad sign of what is happening in America.
You know, I've been around for awhile, and people standing on freeway exits with desperate signs were NOT apart of this country for most of my life. But in the last 10 years they are ubiquitous in any city.
What is it going to take?!?!?! How long can this country ignore the obvious? And I don't even want to answer my own question. What fresh hell is this? Watching your country become something you abhor.
And tomorrow, our corpulent and corrupted congress will vote on Eric Cantor's bill to cut food stamps, and I'm sadly rather sure it will pass. I have really not seen anything like it in my rather long life time.
And even though I was not there for the Great Depression, and I know this kind of thing was much more prevalent then, I also know we should know better now. Much better. But we don't. And that just sears my heart.
And still, I see her face. Can't get it out of my mind. And I worry about her, and wonder where she is as I write this, and hope she's somehow, at least...safe.