Daily Prompt Meets Write Now! 20 September 2013: Life’s Not Fair

“Mommy?”

“Yes, dear?”

“Why is that man sleeping over there? Isn’t he the one that daddy talks to?”

“Yes, he is honey; he is homeless and daddy tries to help him sometime.”

“Can’t he just live with us all the time?”

“No, dear.”

“Why not?”

[Brief silence] “He’s not a part of our family, dear; our house is small and it’s just for us.”

“Gramma comes and sleeps on that roller bed. Can’t the man use that?”

[Longer silence] “Well, Gramma is family–she is mommy’s mommy.”

“But God says we are all family, so why can’t he stay.”

[Longer silence] “That is true but God meant something a little different.”

[Brief silence] “That’s not fair.”

“Life’s not fair, dear. Now go play with your dolly. Dinner will be ready in a moment.”

The child wandered off as her mom chopped the salad but was again distracted by a knock on the door. She wiped her hands on a towel and made her way to the foyer. She glanced at the clock next to the door; it was probably her husband, stuck with full hands again. After seeing who had been knocking, she wished she hadn’t answered the door; it was Frank, her husband’s homeless friend. He looked at her expectantly and she suddenly burst into tears, at a loss as to how to help a man in whom she could see so much promise.

The Daily Post pixies wanted to know

Tell us about something you think is terribly unfair — and explain how you would rectify it. Photographers, artists, poets: show us FAIR.

I struggle with the concept of homelessness.

To be honest, I was probably like a lot of other people in America for a while; I just didn’t think about it. When I saw homeless folks, I looked past them, preferring not to crowd my addled brain with the responsibility of caring for those outside my little circle.

I say ‘for a while’ because I had an epiphany one night a few years ago.

It has been said that the US had an economic crisis in about 2008 or so. The housing market was especially hard hit here in California (and lots of other states) due to improper practices. Houses that should have been priced in the five figures if you were lucky were priced in the high six figures.

So in 2007 we moved to California, not knowing anything about all that. We were leasing a house and one day I went in to pay our monthly bill. The man in front of me was being evicted in 30 days because the owner of his house had decided to stop paying the mortgage and the house had been foreclosed on by the bank. You see, during the hayday of nonsense, people who could barely afford one home bought multiples; the ‘extras’ were rented out. When times got tough (read: back to normal and the rats were sniffed out), people stopped paying on the mortgages of those second and third homes, leaving the tenants and the lease management companies in a big pickle.

I went home that night and we started looking to get into our own home.

Fast forward a few months: things had gone from bad to worse. Our county was emptying out; I would drive by entire housing communities that were fenced off and empty. Others in some stages of mid-build were similarly fenced; some would never be completed and eventually got torn down.

We managed to get into a house of our own and one night we were sitting out back; it was raining and cold.

Epiphany.

The news had reported on the percentages of homeless families in the area. I asked my husband, “What would a family do if they were homeless on a night like this with a sick infant? How would you keep her dry and warm?”

Life’s not fair.

Life’s not fair when such occurrences actually happen. Daily.

Life’s not fair when people have to decide whether to buy groceries or medication.

Life’s not fair when children go to school, not because they want to learn but because that is the only place they can get two meals a day and sometimes a snack to take home.

Life’s not fair when, in a country of such excess, there are people sleeping outside against their will and outside their ability.

Life’s not fair when I can’t come up with a practical, easy, solution.

(4) Comments

  1. I find myself wanting to quote Unforgiven – “Deserves got nothing to do with it.” Fair is part of living… it’s not part of this grand adventure. Some will have it easy, some will struggle, some will have periods of both, and that’s the way it is supposed to be. All we can do is help those who are struggling as we can…

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