Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Will Work For Food

Now that the days are getting longer again, I'm starting to see the cardboard signs at drive-time. Most of 'em are the traditional "Will work for food." How many of those folks are really hoping to land some gainful employment? I've heard that Boise currently has several THOUSAND unfilled jobs, and many of them are in the service industry, where you don't need skills and experience, just willingness to work.

There's a guy I see regularly just under the I-184 Connector. He looks able-bodied, maybe early 40s, somewhat unkempt but presentable. His sign is a variation... I believe it says "Just need a little help."

I can identify! I "work for food" every day! (When I bicycle past the guy who "just needs a little help," I'm tempted to stop and give him some help in the form of advice - GET A JOB!)

Years ago, we taught our kids a valuable object lesson.

We were headed for the bakery thrift store. (I have to watch my budget carefully, or I'll be standing on the side of the road with a cardboard sign!) We saw a guy sitting on a corner a couple blocks away, with his sign. It said "will work for food." So, we bought an extra loaf of bread - FINE bread! - and took it back to him. He acted as though he was extremely grateful - he eagerly took the bread and said, "Thank you, God bless!" or something to that effect. We drove away, feeling good about having provided some food. (We all know that money will buy food, but if you donate cash, it can be exchanged for pretty much anything.)

Later that afternoon, we were on a different errand. We drove past the same corner. The panhandler guy was gone. The loaf of bread was sitting on the corner, unopened. We took it to the park and fed the ducks with it. Evidently the guy wasn't that hungry.

Like I said before - we taught our kids a valuable object lesson.

Here's an interesting story out of Denver. They've set up some "homeless parking meters," where charitable folks can feed a few quarters into the meter instead of handing it directly to a homeless person. Money collected is used to fund the various programs for the local homeless population.

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