Friday, December 19, 2014

Before You Judge That Panhandler

A few weeks back I called the cops on a panhandler at the intersection of US29 and East Market St for getting mouthy with me when I didn't have any money to give. I drive a beat to hell 88 Dodge pick-up and have an Obama Phone, it's not like I look like I have money.

He claimed to be a veteran.

But I've found that to be the exception rather than the rule. I sized him up, had it not been for the meds that the rest of your tax dollars are paying for through your Guilford County taxes I would have taken the steel pipe laying on the seat of my truck and beat the SOB at least half to death. Thank you all for keeping me out of jail. Those generic meds you bought me saved you his medical bills and the costs of my incarceration. Again, thanks.

I've been 4 years out of work. My Disability hearing is finally scheduled for February 2. It would be so easy for me to slip off the edge and become like them. If not for family I might be there now.

I've been homeless in the past, 20 some years ago, but I never begged because I'm trained in survival skills. But as a man grows older the effort to live using such skills becomes increasingly harder. I'm no longer physically able to survive in the woods. Back then I was too proud in my 30s to ask for help so when things went wrong I went to the woods but eventually I realized I couldn't spend my life there without becoming a wild animal-- something I didn't want to be.

Drugs and alcohol were never an issue for me. Medical issues and a lack of insurance caused me to lose a house and a job-- took all of 6 months before everything was gone. Then I lost myself to the Depression and PTSD that had always been there but I'd somehow kept in check without ever before getting help.

I could have filed bankruptcy, I could have asked my parents for help, I could have gotten government assistance, I could have gotten Disability 20 years ago easier than today. I could have done a lot of things that I didn't do but I had no one to guide me through it, too much pride to ask and not enough clarity of thought to figure it out.

20 years later I was back on my feet, $20K in the bank, all my bills paid, 54 years old and everything goes wrong again. I'm assaulted on the job, the PTSD comes back, I lost it all for a while, I almost shot a coworker. My doctors told me to go on Disability and for 4 years I've waited as every penny I saved disappeared.

So before you go judging those people who are begging I want you to remember 4 things: 1) They're most likely not the people breaking into your homes or robbing you. 2) Politicians are more likely to rob you in the name of doing good deeds, 3) none of you know their individual stories and 4) it could have been you or I.

And no, I've yet to stand on a corner with a sign. I'll die first. But not everyone is like me.