Humbling experiences sometimes come by the bucketful and I've had my share of them thus far in life. The most recent being a brutal portrait of the poor economy and ensuing hardship not discriminating - people from all walks of life are being hit hard.
I live in the affluent foothills of my town - latest model BMW's, Mercedes, Lexus are a dime a dozen. The high school kids who crowd the local coffee shop on late start day sport designer clothes, artfully arranged hair, ipods, iphones - they dangle keys to the cars they are privileged to drive. Thumbs text furiously, and "OMG" rings out as they order $4 coffee drinks frequently paying with a debit card. They live in a rarefied world, insulated from reality.
Contrast that with a recent discovery - a child playing on the same sports team as my grandson was living in a car with his mother - homeless , but not hopeless - this mother in the midst of her own despair was striving for some kind of normalcy for her 9 year old. Unknown to teachers and peers, this child was going to school everyday clean, homework in hand - and all from the back seat of a car.
Thursday, driving through an intersection in this upscale area I saw a woman on the side of the road holding a sign. "Please help. Lost my job. I need school supplies and shoes for my children". What struck me and caused me to make a U turn was that the woman could have been you or me. She was neatly dressed, pressed shorts, tucked in cotton blouse, sandals. Her hair was brushed, she wore lip gloss. I parked and walked over to her - she looked away and her shoulders heaved.
I went with her to the drug store and bought some school basics. Very briefly her story - 43, college degree, divorced, children 13 and 9. Her home is in foreclosure, her ex husband is unemployed, has left the state and is no longer paying child support, she was laid off from an administrative position three months ago. She has sent out over 300 copies of her resume in a 1500 mile radius from home. She is desperate. One of the many out of work, receiving unemployment benefits who according to one of our state Senators "is encouraged NOT to look for work because they'd rather collect benefits." I don't think so Senator Kyle.
What strength it took that woman to stand on a corner and ask for help is beyond my comprehension. "I have no pride left," she told me. "I don't know what else to do. I came to this part of town because I don't think I'll run into anyone I know."
I'm counting my blessings.
The first steps in my Life Reimagined - When AARP approached me to do a trial of their Life Reimagined program, I saw it as an excellent opportunity to hear some fresh voices other than the ones ...