Manhandling Panhandlers

I am unsure of a world where if we extend compassion toward another who needs it we are reprimanded by a section in the corporate code of conduct.

I am completely untrusting of a society that discards it’s elderly, favoring a collected isolation where all our grandpas and grandmas can die around the television  playing canasta.

I am obviously not of this earth if when we see people who are unwell, vulnerable or in need we approach with severe apprehension if we even acknowledge them at all.

I am weary of seeing so much neglect for people who are just like us, with eyes, hearts, histories and ambitions. Just like us except that we have jobs, families, educations and the wherewithal to not allow poor decisions or questionable people dictate pivotal moments that affect our futures.

“Just like us“.

Just like “them“.

Those who have nowhere to go are more like us than we’ll ever know. Those who suffer beneath the discarded ends of our luxuries know this world in ways we petulant, privileged and mercenary swarms will rarely understand.


Jesus Christmas

Have you ever seen Jesus dressed as Santa? Not like a mockery but more of a combination of ideas, how you know that if, in his day, Jesus would totally be down with being Santa Claus and handing out presents. I’ve been hearing about the guy who has a nativity scene of Jesus shooting (they use the word “murder”) Santa Claus with a shotgun. I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t know whether to laugh out loud or roll on the floor laughing. It’s not like the gun was in the other hand, right?

What I do know is that dragging a tree into the house or hanging lights on the gutters or throwing loose change into a bell-ringer’s bowl doth not a Christmas make. It is part of the egg nog experience, though. Whatever holiday you call it, whatever you do to have it and whatever goodness it brings to those around you, I’m glad to be a part of it. Except for the shopping, the lines, the traffic, the insolent louts who are always in my way and those bell ringing bastards opening store doors for me as if I would then give my nickels to their multinational charity outfit who has ties to organized crime.

I do however, dig the whole jingling, fireplace, warm hearth and good grub going on this time of year.

Hey Santa, Got Change For A Dollar?

Too many times I’m in line at the supermarket (they still call it that?) shoulder tapping a case of Bud Dry and listening to the ding of the cash register, wondering which mixed tape I’m going to jam on my new auto-reverse walkman. Too many times.

On the checkout counter there is a box with Jerry Lewis’s face on it giving a look of comic yet perpetual guilt asking me to give money for MS research. Or the March of Dimes. Or a Christian adoption agency or some other charity that props up a cute but unfortunate child to beg for my spare change saying that it only takes a little to make a lot of difference.

Winter seasons are rife with doorways where a bell-ringing santa is waiting for a little cash donation. Let’s not forget that religious organizations (Army of Salvation) are exempt from filing with the Internal Revenue Service. That means my quarter goes into the little metal thing and is quite possibly GONE FOREVER, and whether it makes it into the grubby hands of a hungry homeless child or becomes another drop in the bucket for some leathery rich guy and his thousand-dollar prostitutes, I’ll never know.

I used to give to charities. No more. CEOs for the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association make a combined 130 million dollars a year. That’s making Ma and Pa Lunchbox all over the country run 5K’s until the end of natural time. Makes me want to smoke cigarettes because at least Big Tobacco practically advertises that your pants may be plundered with every box. The former president of UNICEF received over $400,000 a year and I went “Trick or Treating” for UNICEF and ran laps for that sonuvabitch. This guy probably has 3 houses paid for with 3 different denominations and I struggle with my looming mortgage while children starve across the globe. Oh, I’m sure some of the kids get fed but what about the droves of fly-eyed little ones or even the gap-toothed hungry mouths in America? Don’t they deserve something more than just a “My pay is merely a fraction of the cost of operations,” or “What’s money when giving life?” Oh no, you pious holiday bastards, if you say you’re helping children then, by god, you’d better do just that. He knows when you’re good or bad so you better be good.

They have these young ladies in Saigon that walk around and sell chewing gum to pedestrians and tourists. They also carry a baby in one arm and push the sleeping toddler into my face as if to evoke some charitable response. Little do they know that by posing as a callous jerk who thinks that anyone with two legs, two hands and a complete sentence can do something besides beg, I’m actually wishing that there was a better way for the less fortunate. Hear that, Jerry?

I have this discussion with a few people in my life and I always seem to lose. I’m told that most people who adamantly refuse donating to others will lead unhappy and stressful lives. I say they may be right. Moving on to the point:

If you’re going to give, give your time. It’s something no one can take and blow at The Bellagio or use to bankroll ski trips to Aspen with mistresses. That’s what I do. The “give your time,” part. Because you never know what your dollar may change but when you’re physically helping, you know that’s for real and that it makes a difference. It then lets us concentrate on what Christmas is really all about.