Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

When "Will Work For Food" Hits Home.

How often do you see a man on a street corner holding a piece of cardboard with the words "Will Work For Food" scribbled on it?[1]  Having grown up in the relative affluence of the Philadelphia suburbs, this man was the one who adults around me in my childhood always told me from the inside of the closed car windows and locked doors, "Don't talk to him.  He's no good."

After a year and a half of getting to know the 21st-century version of these men who reside in homes roofed by railroads, the little boy me has given way to the man who knows the back story of these men.  These men stand in those intersections dodging cars driven by uncaring drivers for reasons such as prescription Percocet gone horribly wrong, childhood abuse, psychological torments such as Desert Storm born PTSD and too many other possibilities to list here.                

 I can tell you these men are worthy of being engaged in for conversation and have within them far more good than the average door locked and closed windowed traveler may ever understand.  When encountered one on one within their current home environment, these men are wonderful to talk to and from whom to learn.  In the absence of knowing these men for who they actually are, even today, I may still have run.   This includes those men who the average suburbanite such as myself would surely run, or at least tap the power lock button on my closed windowed car door just to be sure.  But not now.

Most, but not all, of these men hold their sign so as to gain funds to be used for the purchase of their medicine.  That's where they and I differ.  I've never had a drug habit nor addiction and yet, tonight, I've come to the point where I am, in this electronic format, holding my "Will Work For Food" sign in my personal intersection of life where I will soon decide if I should turn right, left or continue straight.

For the past 21 years, I've had a service business called "Your Helpful Neighbor."  It evolved into working primarily with senior citizens.  This past winter, the one that we seem to be having a hard time shaking into the history books, I've averaged not even $200.00 in income per week since November.  Years ago, I had a waiting list of people who wanted my services.  These years, all forms of mailings and displays have failed to find new people to serve.  The simple act of telling one's neighbors and friends about a reasonable service provider is largely a thing of the past.  That's what apps are for.  My referral reward brought in a few new folks but not enough to keep my fully insured business going.

While I'm not calling it quits, "Your Helpful Neighbor" will become a side emphasis on an as able basis once full-time employment or my own full-time street ministry becomes a reality.

Applying for New Opportunities to Serve Addicted People

Realizing the situation, I began looking for employment and came to realize the absurd and impersonal nature of the hiring process these days.  The last time I successfully applied for a job was 1998 in Bowling Green Ohio.  I saw an advertisement in the newspaper, called, interviewed and had been given three raises before the end of that meeting.  I served Wood County Hospital[2] as best as I could for ten years prior to moving back to Glen Mills, Pa.

In the past few months, among other applications, I have applied for nearly identical positions at three different detox/rehab facilities.  I uploaded to each of their computer hiring systems identical resumes and cover letters. 

I received a computer generated rejection notice from the facility 10 minutes from my home. 

I received a “Dear Applicant” postcard from the facility 20 minutes from my home and have not heard from them since. 

Within the hour, I received a personal phone call from the facility 30 minutes from my home.  They invited me to come for an interview at their job fair.  I went, had a wonderful experience and have been told I may be called back for a second interview. 

This third facility modeled through its hiring practice the personal nature of the work involved in its overall mission.  Thank you.  That’s the type of organization through which I want to serve the suffering.

I don't yet know if I will be hired by this third facility.  I would like to think so.  What if this place with its humane way of seeking employees had not crossed my path?  I'd be convinced that I will soon be finding an intersection to call my own as I carry my cardboard  "Will Work For Food" sign.

And yet, here I am.  I don't know if the job at that humane facility for suffering humans will be mine soon or at all.  In the meantime, my own funds have run dry and I write from my rented home from which I may soon be moving, this simple sentence in hopes that someone will call:

"Will Work For Food.”

If that doesn't work, well, at least I know some wonderful men (and women) under a bridge in Kensington.  Maybe Nicola and her fianc√©'s recently vacated spot is still available.  If not, I'll follow the Yellow Brick road and set up my blanket in Emerald City.  I'll set up on the south end of the bridge and read other people's blogs with my word-loving, blog reader friend.

With this unusual and very personal writing, I'm not feeling sorry for myself.  I am developing an insight into that very small segment of the population of these bridges and abandoned houses that are there not because of addiction.  These men and women are there because they couldn't figure out how to make life work the way our current society with its impersonal hiring procedures and multiple forms inadequate and dysfunctional communication demands.

"Will Work For Food." 





[1] I do know one man whose sign reads: "Dope Sick, Won't Lie. I need money for my medicine."  I've told this man a time or two that I appreciate his honesty. 
[2] Which holds the distinction of being the birthplace of the gastric bypass.  

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