Captain’s Note: The Captain began writing this blog post yesterday after an exceptionally bad day on Tuesday. Things got progressively worse last night, so I am amending and revising what I had planned to post.
One part of my weekly responsibilities includes spending one morning at a community ministry where I write checks to assist people with their past due utility bills.
This is not the Captain’s money, so it should be no big deal, right?
There are limits to how much I can give, so it’s a no-brainer, right?
And it’s only one morning per week… three hours. And on some days no one comes in, so I can get some other work done instead.
How hard could that be?
But on Tuesday – which also happened to be “International Talk Like a Pirate Day” – I was in a foul mood.
A Blackbeard mood!
And the four clients that came in didn’t improve my mood.
Now, each client is given a standard form to complete. Many just fill out the top page and hand the clipboard back to me.
“I’m sorry, there are four more pages there.”
I want to know more about them, about their lifestyle, and about the community in which I serve.
Almost all admit to smoking. None have ever admitted to drinking alcohol.
One of the questions on the form asks why they need financial assistance.
“I ran out of money” is a frequent answer.
I just let that one go.
Less than half of the people I see have finished high school.
Many are widows whose husbands left them with nothing.
Few attend church, but they apparently don’t mind relying upon the kindness of church people.
Sadly, most are beyond the age of being able to improve their situations, and many look decades older than their driver’s license indicates.
So I write the check.
But yesterday, one woman in particular stood out. She is relatively young.
Let’s just say younger than the Captain.
She has two children in elementary school.
And she presented an electric bill for over $600!
Several excuses were given.
“That’s two months worth!”
“The utilities recently switched to automated meters and everybody’s rates went up.” (That was a year ago.)
When I pointed out that her usage more than doubled over the previous month, she claimed that the pump on the well broke and she hadn’t noticed it right away so it kept running.
Ah, country living.
And then there’s the electric fence that keeps her son’s horse in the yard.
She has a horse?
Yes, and she has cable and internet services at her house too.
But she ranted about the electric company: “How do they expect me to pay that? I’m a single mom!”
And unemployed, I might add.
Now, many of the clients I see are either physically or emotionally unable to work. They have paperwork to prove it.
And this woman?
Oh, she is physically able to work, but she does not.
“Because the kids…”
And so she counts on a meager government assistance check and food stamps and any charitable organization she can hit up to pay her bills for her.
Somehow having children gives her the “right” to not work.
Somehow having children grants her the privilege of having others pay her bills for her.
That bothered the Captain. Deep down.
When the Captain’s father died at an early age, he left the Captain’s mother with four children to raise. She had a high school diploma but hadn’t worked in the 20+ years they were married.
But she got a job! Because she had a family to take care of. Eventually she even took on a second job to help put my sister through college.
Yes, all four of us went on to college and beyond!
Having children is not an excuse.
But that’s not the end of this rant. Oh, no. Not even close!
Last night, while perusing Facebook, the Captain came across a news article about how the Red Cross had stopped helping the people of Houston.
Now, if anyone had actually read the article, it said there had been a computer crash.
But did anyone read the article? One couldn’t tell by the comments that followed!
Trolls! Trolls everywhere! Bashing the Red Cross!
“Where’s my money?” they cried.
“We were in a flood a few years ago and all the Red Cross did was put us up in a motel for one night.” they wrote.
“Sure, there are Red Cross shelters and food and stuff, but they aren’t helping us!” they whined.
“All that money we donated just goes to pay their CEO’s salary!” they ignorantly assumed.
And then, from Key West, the cry went up, “Where is Jimmy Buffett? Why isn’t he down here helping us?”
Because, you know, Jimmy is rich. "He should be
giving us money helping us out!"
And they turned on him! The Captain was amazed at the venom hurled at the man who helped make Key West what it is today!
Captain’s Note: Jimmy Buffett is currently in Paris preparing for an upcoming concert. He did issue a statement explaining this and offered encouragement to the people of Key West; he promised he would do what he could from afar. And I believe him.
And finally, there is a guy apparently active on Twitter who goes by the name "Sassy Gay Republican". He was once very outspoken against President Obama, particularly the Obamacare insurance program.
"As a young adult in perfect health, why should I be FORCED to pay for insurance I don't want and likely won't need?"
Well, last week Mr. Sassy Pants was involved in an automobile accident. And guess what! No insurance!
So now he has set up a "GoFundMe" account begging for people to help him pay his hospital bills.
You see, the Captain wants to know, when did mainstream America take on such an entitlement mentality? Now that has long been an insult hurled at the poor, but these folks who are whining and complaining now are middle- and upper-middle-class folks.
The Captain wants to know why these people didn’t make better plans, knowing that they live in a hurricane zone. The Captain wants to know why they don’t have the necessary insurance to recover. The Captain wants to know why they haven’t put back a nest egg to see them through a disaster like this.
The Captain can be an S.O.B. sometimes. I own that. Nonetheless, I want to know how in hell we got to this point?
“How do they expect me to pay that? I’m a single mom.”
Where did we go wrong?