Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sign of the Times

I was having a very pleasant drive on Sunday, running a few errands around my town. I was rather disturbed when I saw this....


... well, that isn't the ACTUAL sign I saw; I didn't take the photo myself. But I did see a guy with a "Will work for food" sign, standing in a parking lot, not far from my own neighborhood. And I drove past, on the highway, doing 55, heading towards the store for some food shopping.

(This photo I got from Google Images. I googled "will work for food" and plenty of images came up, most of them jokes. This one looked legit, which is why I used it. I got it from the website "Business As Mission", in case you are interested.)

I always tend to think that those kinds of signs, and the people they represent, are kept isolated in the City. I see tons of them in NYC. My hometown is quite city-like by many people's standards, but to me, it's my neighborhood and NOT the city. To me, it's the middle class suburbs. And seeing a sign like that was very disturbing to my sense of order in the universe.

When I was little, I lived for Gram's stories. She always had great ones. One group of stories was about the Great Depression. She was quite happy through the depression. Her family had a roof over their heads and food to eat. In fact, her family often helped people who didn't have anything. They had a huge house, and kept boarders. Sometimes the people who stayed with them came in cold and hungry and broke. Gram's mother took them in and fed them and kept them. She had many great stories about these kinds of situations. I don't remember any negative stories. I don't remember any of the stories where the guy turned out to be a bad guy, and stole from them, or anything like that. (Well, one or two stories about drunken brawls, but it seems that everything all worked out right in the end, and half the time it was one of her brothers that were involved anyway!)

Of course, that was a different time and place. Well, it wasn't actually a different place; it was rather near here. But it was light years different from the world we live in now.

Why didn't offer that guy a job? I was having a big dinner, I could have fed him too, after he'd weeded the backyard - a job that seriously needs to be done! Why didn't I pick up groceries and drop them off for him? Because I'm such a suspicious person, I tend to believe that he probably didn't really want food. Or to work. But I didn't stop and ask him, did I? No. And there are plenty of people out of work right now. Plenty of people that need help. So, really, he COULD have been legit.

I hope I am never in the position where I am hungry and legitimately need to stand outside with a sign. No one would believe me, and they would probably assume I was a drunk.

And if YOU are ever in the position of being that desperate, please call me and let me know. I would rather not let anyone starve, if I can help it.
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Seraphine said...

people today don't seem to have the same 'homespun' values as during the last depression. i'm not sure why. people really don't change across generations, do they?
there was crime in the 1930s. maybe when somebody did something bad in those days, they'd get beaten or run out of town?
or maybe there was a code of honor among the homeless then, that you don't bite the hand that feeds you?
or maybe the country was just smaller then, and people weren't strangers.
i don't know the answer beth, but it's an interesting thing to think about.

Netizen101 said...

Self-preservation says better be safe than sorry. Of course, we would all help if his case is legit, but how can we be sure? In any case, there must be organisations that he can turn to if he so desperately needed help.

Beth said...

You know you can always live with me....but got to put up with the puppy!!!

Sue said...

Sera - There seems to be much less honor now -- honor doesn't seem to mean much to anyone, from the richest to the poorest, or from old to young.

Netizen - Self-preservation is precisely why I didn't stop to find out if he was legit or not...

Beth - And you can all live with me, but the puppy would have to go somewhere else! :)