Category Archives: Welfare

Re-Post: Who Has Been an Inspiration in Your Life, and Why?

Posted on August 23, 2011



I’m not an admirer of human beings as being particularly inspirational, on the whole.  Yeah, a lot of human sentences find themselves trapped between quotation marks in fragments people find supportive of viewpoints that won’t stand on their own hind legs.  Pithy wisdomoids giving authority to vapid premises.  Often this does happen in a synthetically inspirational context.  But the sources of those quotes usually don’t appear so wise or unblemished under careful scrutiny.

Maybe ‘inspirational’ isn’t the appropriate word to capture the concept I’m hoping to convey.

Maybe ‘has had an influence on your life you believe helped you to be a person you came nearer admiring than the one you were previously’ would more accurately describe it while filling the need for cumbersome rhetoric.  The inspiration derived from firing wisdomoids back and forth at one another isn’t made of the strong stuff I’m trying to communicate.

For instance, I used to be acquainted with a Vietnam vet, who lived in an Econoline van in Albuquerque.  He had a route of parking spots and a time schedule he’d follow to hang around each place for a while.  The street guys who were dumpster-diving knew his schedule.  They also knew  he’d pay a fair price for  anything he could get his money back on that they’d salvaged out of the trash.  After making his rounds, the Econoline would head to the flea market and he’d sell first to the crowd, then whatever was left to the flea market merchants.

By reselling it from homeless guys dumpster-diving, he provided them a means of getting some cash for a lot of things they’d have no way to sell  for themselves, or would have had a lot of difficulty getting more than a few cents for.  His route superimposed an economic network devised to offer those submerged in hardship a trickle of income, a safety net.  He provided a valuable service.

But what I particularly admired was that, when he came across someone he believed was ready to try drug or alcohol withdrawal he’d pack them up in the van and head off somewhere to the middle of nowhere, usually a small town with a restaurant or grocery store where he could pick up food and supplies. Once out of the city environment, he’d keep the addict in the van a week, two weeks, a month, drying them out, getting them clean, being there for them.

I came across him once parked at Vietnam Memorial Wall park in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  I didn’t realize at first what I was seeing.  I just saw his van with the white Ministry sign roughly painted on the side and recognized it and him outside it.  I stopped to chew the fat with him, then heard the moaning in the Econoline.  He caught my eye and shrugged.

“Trying to kick smack.  He’s on his second week.  It ought to start getting better in a few days.”  The odor of vomit, urine and human excretions was strong near the truck, so we drifted further afield as we talked.  Probably he was used to it, but I wasn’t.

Christian guy.  One of the Christians I’ve known that kept me believing there are honest-to-goodness bona fide Christians in the world.

I surely admired his guts, his determination and compassion.  There’s a lot about him I’d admire in myself if I looked inside me and surprised myself finding it there.

Nice to come across a Christian occasionally who isn’t all hat and no cattle.

I wonder what Jesus thought about sin.  Jesus did his talking about loving neighbors, compassion, peace-making, mercy, that sort of thing.  Hardly said anything about sin.  If he could speak his mind today I wonder if he’d forgive Saul of Tarsus the way he did Judas.”  Josephus Minimus

Here are a couple of blogs you might find of interest:

Urbandumpsterdiver’s Blog

Doing It Homeless

Old Jules

Kingston Trio-Reverend Mr. Black
http://youtu.be/sKJiDbvKbZs

John Lennon– Cold Turkey
http://youtu.be/n6wxTkkfLqM

Philosophy by Limerick – Screw the Hired Help and Hamburger Flippers

A wisdom akin to a curtain
Finds septuagenarians certain
Their egocentristic
Self-seeking, simplistic
Pronouncements could cure all that’s hurtin’.

Old Jules

Second Harvest – The Cast-Offs of Affluence

When I got booted out of Peace Corps training at Hilo, Hawaii in December, 1964, I dropped off the plane back to the mainland at Honolulu.  I went to work in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel Makahiki Restaurant for a while as a bussboy while deciding what to do next.

I was the only Haole working at the Makahike.  All the other bussboys were Filipino and the waitresses, managers were all Orientals.  The bussboys all worked for minimum wage and a percentage of tips, which still left things marginal as a means of survival.

But I soon discovered the bussboys all had an edge.   On my first day, maybe first hour working there I went into the back carrying a huge tray full of dirty dishes and food left behind by the eaters.  I’d no sooner gotten out of sight of the customers before the head bussboy grabbed me by the arm, put the tray down and began screaming at me.  Moving dishes and pointing at leftover food items  I’d mixed, spilled water over, made no effort to keep separate from others.

Garbage!  You made it garbage Haole bastard!”

It turned out all the bussboys kept discarded food separate and put it on a table in the back each time they unloaded from the customer service area.  Then, anytime one of us had a brief break in customer demand up front, we’d go to the table and gobble a half-eaten steak, papaya, anything suiting our fancy. 

During the time I worked there I ate well.  I’m not certain I’ve ever eaten better, more consistently, even during times of affluence.

In the post Could you choose to live on the street? I described a man I knew as a youngster who dropped out of being president of a bank to live under a bridge.  I suspect one of the ways he survived involved carrying what I did at the Makahiki a step further.

Similarly, in the post, Who Has Been an Inspiration in Your Life, and Why? I described a man who’s used second-harvest of affluence as a means to pursue what he considered worthy human activity.

This morning I’m reposting a couple of blogs of people who are following the second harvest route to life.  I admire the spirit.

Old Jules

Websearch: “Lowlifes on Welfare” brings’em here.

Someone spang found this blog searching for “lowlifes on welfare“.

I’m thinking it must have been Google analyzing this pic I posted describing how a person could get spiffed up to go to town by shaving with sheep shears instead of a razor:  Shaving with sheep shears.

Well, heck!  I hate to see someone come here and find only half of what he was looking for.  I’m just hoping the emphasis was on finding a lowlife instead of finding someone on welfare.

On the other hand, I have a suspicion a person who’d do a search using that particular phrase probably would define the Social Security I paid into five decades and some change and draw now qualifies as welfare.  So maybe he went away having gotten his moneys worth.  Riding the Bread Line

Brought to mind one of my favorite quotes from the bard.  Hamlet’s immortal summing up just about said it all, but when they set it music for the musical ‘Hair’ I’ve always thought it might be considered an improvement in some contexts.  Enough irony there so’s a magnet would pick it up.

The fog’s gotten so thick outdoors I can barely see across the front porch.

Old Jules

 

Who Has Been an Inspiration in Your Life, and Why?



I’m not an admirer of human beings as being particularly inspirational, on the whole.  Yeah, a lot of human sentences find themselves trapped between quotation marks in fragments people find supportive of viewpoints that won’t stand on their own hind legs.  Pithy wisdomoids giving authority to vapid premises.  Often this does happen in a synthetically inspirational context.  But the sources of those quotes usually don’t appear so wise or unblemished under careful scrutiny.

Maybe ‘inspirational’ isn’t the appropriate word to capture the concept I’m hoping to convey.

Maybe ‘has had an influence on your life you believe helped you to be a person you came nearer admiring than the one you were previously’ would more accurately describe it while filling the need for cumbersome rhetoric.  The inspiration derived from firing wisdomoids back and forth at one another isn’t made of the strong stuff I’m trying to communicate.

For instance, I used to be acquainted with a Vietnam vet, who lived in an Econoline van in Albuquerque.  He had a route of parking spots and a time schedule he’d follow to hang around each place for a while.  The street guys who were dumpster-diving knew his schedule.  They also knew  he’d pay a fair price for  anything he could get his money back on that they’d salvaged out of the trash.  After making his rounds, the Econoline would head to the flea market and he’d sell first to the crowd, then whatever was left to the flea market merchants.

By reselling it from homeless guys dumpster-diving, he provided them a means of getting some cash for a lot of things they’d have no way to sell  for themselves, or would have had a lot of difficulty getting more than a few cents for.  His route superimposed an economic network devised to offer those submerged in hardship a trickle of income, a safety net.  He provided a valuable service.

But what I particularly admired was that, when he came across someone he believed was ready to try drug or alcohol withdrawal he’d pack them up in the van and head off somewhere to the middle of nowhere, usually a small town with a restaurant or grocery store where he could pick up food and supplies. Once out of the city environment, he’d keep the addict in the van a week, two weeks, a month, drying them out, getting them clean, being there for them.

I came across him once parked at Vietnam Memorial Wall park in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  I didn’t realize at first what I was seeing.  I just saw his van with the white Ministry sign roughly painted on the side and recognized it and him outside it.  I stopped to chew the fat with him, then heard the moaning in the Econoline.  He caught my eye and shrugged.

“Trying to kick smack.  He’s on his second week.  It ought to start getting better in a few days.”  The odor of vomit, urine and human excretions was strong near the truck, so we drifted further afield as we talked.  Probably he was used to it, but I wasn’t.

Christian guy.  One of the Christians I’ve known that kept me believing there are honest-to-goodness bona fide Christians in the world.

I surely admired his guts, his determination and compassion.  There’s a lot about him I’d admire in myself if I looked inside me and surprised myself finding it there.

Nice to come across a Christian occasionally who isn’t all hat and no cattle.

I wonder what Jesus thought about sin.  Jesus did his talking about loving neighbors, compassion, peace-making, mercy, that sort of thing.  Hardly said anything about sin.  If he could speak his mind today I wonder if he’d forgive Saul of Tarsus the way he did Judas.”  Josephus Minimus

Here are a couple of blogs you might find of interest:

Urbandumpsterdiver’s Blog

Doing It Homeless

Old Jules

Kingston Trio-Reverend Mr. Black
http://youtu.be/sKJiDbvKbZs

John Lennon– Cold Turkey
http://youtu.be/n6wxTkkfLqM

Could you choose to live on the street?

That little farm you see down there is the place where I spent a good many of my formative years after my mother remarried and we moved to Portales, New Mexico. As you can see, we’d had a pretty good year for hay, which dates the picture to 1949, or 1950, before the big drought hit.

When we sat outdoors in the evening the red neon lights blinked “Schumpert Farm Supply” across the top of the long building running diagonally to the railroad tracks until I went to bed. From my limited perspective the Schumperts were ‘rich’. In that small town that railroad running through didn’t identify who was rich but it did identify who wasn’t. That little farm I lived on and no other property that side of the tracks had any rich people.

In the rigidly established social structure in Portales business men generally came down on the side of being ‘rich’, along with professors at Eastern New Mexico University, bankers, physicians, preachers, school teachers and a few elderly ladies who lived in houses big enough to be thought of as mansions. Farmers, ranchers, Mexicans and people who worked in the businesses weren’t ‘rich’.

I doubt the adults paid a lot of attention to the social strata, but school teachers did, and the kids adopted it more firmly than a religion. Rich kids were easy to recognize because they made good grades, weren’t hassled by teachers, got elected to everything, brought cookies to school Christmas, Easter and Halloween, and had the best bicycles early, cars later. For the most part they were insufferable snobs.

But not the Schumpert boys. I was in school with Stephen and Billy, and there was a precocious younger one I don’t recall the name of. Stephen was a year older than me, Billy a year younger, and there wasn’t a breath of snobbery in the entire family. Stephen, particularly, had a knack for getting in just the right amount of just the right kinds of trouble to keep from qualifying as a goody-goody. Good solid boys from a good solid family. I had a lot of respect for all of them.

I left that town early and stayed mostly away for several decades. I lost track of almost everyone I ever knew there.

But after Y2K when I moved into town to Grants, New Mexico, I came across Billy Schumpert being president of a bank there. Naturally we got together and talked about whatever we each knew that might interest the other. Billy’s the one told me what happened to Stephen.

Stephen worked as a bank examiner several years, then became president of a bank in Colorado, maybe Denver. Had a regular family, seemed to be destined to follow a career path and eventually retire. But one morning he didn’t show for work late in the 1980s. Nobody had any idea what became of him. He wasn’t a drinker, didn’t use drugs, didn’t have a ‘secret life’. He just vanished for no apparent reason.

Over time the police and other agencies gave up, assumed he was the victim of some crime, dead. But the family put up a reward for information about Stephen, sent private investigators and others searching for him. Eventually, six, seven years later they located him living under a bridge in Seattle.

Over time everyone who loved Stephen went up there trying to talk him into returning to real life, return home.

“No! I had enough!” That’s all he’d say and he never came back.

I’ve pondered Stephen a lot during the years since I learned what he’d done with his life. In some ways I think I understand, though I’m not sure. My own life has been a long series of reversals in direction. It’s meandered, cutting as wide a swath of human experience as I was able to pack into it. So, from that perspective, I can gnaw at the edges of understanding Stephen’s behavior. But I was a wild kid and I’ve always pushed the envelope, all my life.

Stephen was ‘tame’.

I’d like to see old Stephen again if he’s alive. He’d be 70, 71 years old now and maybe wiser than he was in the 1980s when something told him he’d had enough. I’d like to sit on the porch and talk with him a long time to come to know how he came to make his choice to isolate himself, to impoverish himself.

Simon & Garfunkel – Richard Cory 1966 live
http://youtu.be/euuCiSY0qYs

Riding the Bread Line


Someone sent me an email forward the other day explaining to me how illegal aliens, welfare recipients, other low-lifes and me, retired and living off Social Security,  is what’s causing this great country to go down the tube.  I swan.

I don’t have a TV, don’t listen to radio, don’t read newspapers or magazines, but I do get email forwards and see sidebar news flashes at Internet sites.  So knowing the country is down the tube didn’t come as a complete shock to me.  Every couple of weeks I go to town for groceries, chicken feed and other necessaries, and the fact gasoline prices are a mite high, bread, milk and produce are worth more than they used to be, and people are older, all had me wondering if things hadn’t slipped downhill.

But knowing all those old people in the grocery lines and I are causing it surely gave me pause.

Made me realize life is harder for people with ball-caps turned sideways, studs in their nostrils, belly buttons and lips, tattoo-tears running down off their faces, and attitude have it tougher than I did all those years I was younger than I am now, because I wasn’t up here then.

I mostly try to mind my own business and tend my own affairs.  I don’t want to be a part of a problem someone else has.  If people living down in the trailer parks sitting in the backs of their pickups drinking beer Saturday afternoons are suffering harder than they would if I was out living under a bridge somewhere dumpster-diving for a living I wouldn’t be half the man I think I am if I didn’t consider it a viable alternative.

I paid money every paycheck for about 50 years into Social Security, but I never figured I’d come to depend on it for a living.  When it happened I never stopped to consider that expecting some of it back was different from people living off their military retirement, Federal Employment Retirement, or Congressional Retirement systems.

If I need to go dumpster-diving and live under a bridge to clear my conscience I figure I can do it.  Lots of people are already doing it.  Just looking at them I hadn’t thought about the moral high ground they’re holding.

Old Jules

King of the Road- Roger Miller