Monday, May 20, 2013

3 bucks an hour for clean streets. . .

Last Friday morning as I drove down Elm Street toward Downtown, I noticed my good friend, "Blue" picking up cans as he made this way up the street in my direction.

I pulled up, rolled my window down and said, "What are you doing, man?"

"Pickin' up cans, Mr. James," he replied.

I pulled off the street and parked my Jeep.

We greeted each other with a hug and a handshake.

"How are you, Blue," I inquired.

"I'm blessed, blessed by the best!" somehow his answer beamed.  "I want that job, Mr. James, that's what I want," he reminded me of the focus of several conversations we've had out at "the Corner" across from the Opportunity Center site.

"All I want is the job," he repeated emphatically.

"I hear you, Blue, and I know," I tried to assure him that I had not forgotten.

"Where were you Wednesday night during the storm?" I asked him.

"Outside, under Billy's canopy at the gas station," he informed me.

"I was thinking about you as the sirens sounded and the rain poured down," I told him, small comfort, really no comfort in that report, but I wanted him to at least know that he had not been forgotten, though I did nothing to relieve his situation.

Golden Rule failure, big time there.

"What do you get for the cans, Blue?" I asked changing the subject.

"Fifty cents a pound," he told me.

"How many pounds you got? I asked.

"About 5 or 6, I'd guess," he said.

"How long that take you to pick up?" I probed.

"'Bout an hour," he said.

So, I figured in my head, "Blue" scourers the streets of inner city Dallas, in my neighborhood, for discarded cans and earns no more than $3 an hour.


"I need that job, Mr. James, I need that job," he pressed.

"I know, Blue, I know.  And, you need a place to live off these streets," I reminded him of the obvious.  "Nothing really changes until we find you a home," I repeated, more for myself than for him.

"That's right.  But, Mr. James, I'm okay.  Really I am," he noted in a thinly veiled effort to take care of me, patting his chest with his open hand.

"I'm blessed, Mr. James, I'm blessed.  Just don't forget that job!" he stated one more time.

"I won't," I told him.  "I won't."

As I drove away, I faced his simple request, and I wondered if we could connect the dots with my friend.

I pray we can.

But, frankly, I'm not sure.  I'm just not sure.


Anonymous said...

What has Blue done in his life to make himself employable? What has been his previous work experience? What are his interest/ talents? Does he have an addiction problem? Does he have family? Does he have mental issues? Homelessness doesn't 't happen by accident,

Larry James said...

Correct. But what he has been through did not include the backstop/safety net I expect you and I enjoy. As you judge my friend, please also judge me. I am no better a man.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:39:

Hmmm ... yes, I can hear it now ... Jesus, asked to help someone ... "well, what have you done to help yourself? did you take advantage of that Roman course on roadbuiliding offered at the forum last fall? Healing? have you been to the free medical clinic down the road?" Yes, the Bible is replete with stories of Jesus placing conditions and provisos on whether someone is worthy of compassion and assistance.