Happiness Found in Styrofoam
#1. Seven days of the week sleep in a nice warm bed with my husband next to me and one spoiled fur baby snoozing next to us.
#2. Six of the days I wake up exceedingly early to drag my happy ass to school or work.
#3. Five days of the week I shower and shave my legs.
#4. Four days of the week I eat a home cooked meal with the family.
#5. Three days of the week I eat out.
#6. Two days of the week I stop at the gas station for a large fountain drink.
I do #6 for three reasons:
1. Because I LOVE fountain drinks more than any other type of drink (excluding margaritas). Cans and plastic bottles don’t do it for me like a cold, crisp carbonated fountain Coke does.
2. Because I am a sleep deprived nursing student who needs caffeine to make it through even the shortest of lectures.
3. Because it is a treat that even on my husband’s salary as an elementary teacher, I can still afford.
#7. One day of the week I give a homeless couple five dollars.
“That is enabling them!” “That money could be used for something good!”
“The will just use it on money or drugs!” “That is $260 a year!”
“They are homeless for a reason” “Give me 5 dollars a week!!”
All of the above are responses I get when I tell people about #7. When I tell them that I take five of my hard earned dollars and give it to a man and a woman who live underneath a bridge. Most of the statements have truth in them. Sure, I could donate the $260 to cancer research, the ASPCA or to my own Catholic parish. I could also save five dollars per week and put it towards something I want, like the pair of cute boots I saw at Macy's.
Maybe I wouldn't have made it a priority to give these people five dollars every week if I would have seen something different driving home after the first day that I gave them the cash. If I would have seen them with beer in their hands, or with needles in their arms, but I didn't. I gave them the cash that morning and pretty much forgot about the whole thing. This was until that evening when I saw the couple sitting on the curb with 2 large fountain sodas. Some would say that I have no way of knowing what was in those fountain soda cups, which is true. Some would say this is was outrage, they should have used that money for something else, they should have used it on bread and cheese, or used it for bus fare to find a job.
Now I will tell you all the complete, swear-on-the-bible, cross-my-heart truth. Right or wrong (mostly wrong), I pass judgment on A LOT of people for things that they do or don’t do in life, but for obvious reasons I find it difficult to judge those who have nothing when in comparison I have everything. What good would it do? Calling them low-life bums and insisting that by keeping my precious five dollars packed tightly away in my overly priced coach purse proves a point about what it means to be a hard working American citizen (inserting my nose in the air), doesn't solve any problems with disparity. I also know full and well that giving them five dollars solves none of their issues either. I do it because I am able to do it.
My goal is not to end homelessness or give them a fresh start with my insignificant five dollars. Those are both things that I know I am not capable of. I am, however, capable of understanding that in the midst of being homeless without a warm bed and without a home cooked meal, drinking a fountain Coke on a Tuesday evening while watching the sun set from under the bridge they call home, may be a small bit of happiness in a heartrending lifestyle that they have claimed as their normalcy. Despite the many plausible, and likely reasons for their current situation, who doesn't deserve happiness?