Working and its importance…


On Saturday, I was running around doing my errands. I did some shopping for a Mothers Day lunch at my sister’s which was yesterday and getting gifts.

On my outings I noticed two panhandlers, at two different times, at two different freeway off ramps. Both of their signs confirmed their homeless status. I choice to give money to only one.

Homeless man #1 was young and looked about mid-20’s. He sitting on the curb, smoking a cigarette. His sign read that he was homeless and jobless.

Homeless man #2 was very elderly, looking about in his late 60’s. He was standing up, very jovial. His sign read the same, that he was homeless and jobless

Which did I give the money to?

Homeless man #2

This is why.
*Note: the below reasoning that I offer may seem presumptuous and judgmental. I will admit that. HOWEVER, I was not able to sit down and ask each of these men their personal situations and I was forced to make a quick judgment on their character by first impressions only, due to moving traffic (both were at a green light at a busy freeway off ramp).

I firmly believe that a young man, should never be begging on the streets. Especially if he looks young and able to work. He can wash dishes, dig a ditch…whatever!  As long as he is not disabled, hasn’t lost a limb, or is schizophrenic, No questions asked. (Now, I do understand that the young homeless man may have had mental issues, but again, I was not able to sit and chat with him. And being that people around here are impatient on the roads, a green light doesn’t allow me one on one with him. If he did have a mental issue, I feel for him and would hope he had some family to go to).

Homeless man #2 was alot older than Homeless man #1. He probably could not find work as easily as his younger counterpart. I will admit that when I see the elderly on the streets begging my heart strings are pulled as I think of my father and how things could have been for him and my mother if he had not been lucky enough to work at a reputable utility company for 36 years.

My father has worked since he was 8 years old doing whatever he could to get money for his family of six.  He bought his family their first t.v. He even saved up to get a 55 Chevy. It was his father who later told him to sell it to get a station wagon so he could drive his mother around. My father’s devotion to his family took precedence. In short, he has worked every day, even on weekends, since he was 8. He just retired a few years ago and now does not work.

My father is also getting the beginnings of Alzheimer’s and can not speak one sentence as he can no longer form words properly. I am thankful that he worked at a well known utility company which, after his 36 years of service, offered him a large amount of money, not only in the form of his 401k but his pension, a nice retirement package and even some disability as his speech problems starts just before he retired.

So yes, my heart strings get pulled more at seeing elderly on the streets. But on the surface, younger people should not be out on the streets begging (again, I’m speaking on the surface) and they will get no money from me. They can work.

This is something I teach my son. NO, I don’t teach him to be judgemental. I also explain to him that we can’t see below the surface of some people and to always have an open mind. But I also teach him that he can work when he becomes of age. I have been working since I was 17 years old with only a few breaks for college out of state and when I was laid off and couldn’t find work. At one point, I worked 2 jobs and went to college full time. When I was laid off I was applying for waitressing jobs or retail, both of which I am not familiar with as I have experience in an office. But I needed to WORK. I couldn’t be at home just feeling lazy.   If I teach my son anything, is that he can and will work. Even while he’s in college, he can work a part time job. Yet, I also try to teach him to not be ALL about work, because that is how my father was and in essence I was lacking a father figure, fatherly advise etc., because he was constantly working. My mother got the brunt of the raising of my sister and I. 

There is a balance. Even I try to maintain a balance. But there is never a reason, to beg on the streets.


4 thoughts on “Working and its importance…

  1. Given how many people see driving past people in need with barely a glance, I don’t think it would be fair to chastise you for giving anything, however you chose to do it.

    This post is also very poignant for me right now, as I recently lost my job after 3 1/2 years. The company went through a re-organization last month and I was laid off. Thankfully, as long as I am very careful with my money, I’ll have enough to survive through the end of the year.

    My father spent most of his life without work and it always irritated me that he didn’t seem to be trying hard enough to find more work, at least, in not in my estimation. Now, here I am in the same situation, and reflecting back on the old man. And I am realizing that my situation isn’t the same as his. I’m under 30, no children, am in good body and health, and have a BA. He didn’t graduate high school and has dealt with a variety of chronic health/ pain issues most of his life – in part from his own stupidity (smoking, avoiding doctor’s, diet) and in part from work related injuries (he had one bad accident that injured his back, very near his spine, when I was a small child, that still bothers him today, and carpal tunnel)

    I don’t know how long it will take me to find another job, but I know I’m going to have an easier time of it than he did. I kind of knew that before reading your post, but, you’ve made me start thinking about it more in depth.

    • I was actually very nervous about posting my thoughts on begging and work. I was laid off back in 2010 and was out of work for almost a year. However, I looked day and night, sent my resume out to over 100 places a week. Just before I did find something, I was applying at the local restaurants and malls for something retail, which is WAY out of my expertise. When I finally did find something, after 3 months at that job, I was laid off again, but 4 days after that, found another job and its been ok since then.

      I do not want to come off as judgemental or non-sympathetic to anyone’s personal situation. I think, just in general, it irks me to see a young person, who is on the side of the road, smoking and begging for money. That just doesn’t sit well with me.

      There is a down side to working for pretty much all one’s life. My father, having been working since he was 8, didn’t know what to do with himself now that he is retired and doesn’t have to get up to go to work anymore. I believe that is contributing to his memory loss and lack of speech functions. Its like, he has nothing to get up for anymore.

      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

      You will find something. I don’t have a BA and found that if I did, my job search would have been alot better. The economy is a *bit* better than it was back in 2010, even if only a very little bit.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly about work ethic. I have a very strong work ethic and have a very hard time with people who try to get out of work. I would have given the elderly man the money as well. In addition, I think people who are idle, suffer from “mental illness” a great deal more. Work keeps them busy. Nice post:)

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