I find it interesting how you can hear something so much that you are desensitized from it, and then you hear it, as if for the first time and you are just moved by the fact. My daughter was sharing with me a conversation with her classmates. A young man came in with a bag of fast food and was eating away. Another young girl said “I work there.” During the conversation that young lady made the comment that “people come in to place an order, and often times they are spending more on themselves for that meal than she makes in the day.”
One would say, she is a teenager with no expenses. My daughter knew that last year, the young lady was homeless. This young student was left to fend for her self, and had taken a job to support herself. The others in class were not aware of this fact, and seemed oblivious to the issue of youth homelessness in Northwest Arkansas, which Christian quickly informed them of.
But what sunk in was “people come in to place an order, and often times they are spending more on themselves for that meal than she makes in the day.” I had a similar conversation with a board member in passing, although we were discussing the United Way presentation and the breakdown of a working family making $12 and hour and the expenses that they have, which after taxes, rent, utilities, phone, transportation, and groceries there was only $51 left at the end of the month for everything else. He had been taken aback by this figure, and seemed surprised when I said most of the families we work with make less. I had quoted those figures, not really feeling the depths of what it meant.
But today, it sank in. How many times have I went through a drive through, and spent the money and eaten the food and the worker selling the food does not even make in a week what it costs me, For my convenience, and even the time that I and or my family would spend eating it, they can’t make ends meet.
Our society is quick to condone those on welfare, calling them lazy bums. Every one of the single parents that I work with is working full-time or attending school, or a combination at a full-time level. Yet, almost without exception, every one of them makes under $9.00 an hour and is supporting a dependent child, some times two children. Most did not ask to be in the situation, although most got there by poor decision-making.
It is time that as a society we rise up and offer a helping hand, not a hand out to those trying to improve their situation. If companies can have record-breaking profits, those should be distributed to the front line workers just as much as the top-level executives to help improve the life of the working poor. I mean what is a fast food company without a server, and what is a department store without a retail clerk and what is an oil company without the sale clerk at the pump. What is a city without a police officer or a nation without a soldier?