If you read my last two blogs, you might get the impression that I’m a nice person. This is not true. I only did a little for Askar. I could have picked him up in the morning and taken him to school. I also could have given him money, grocery shopped for him, bought him clothes and any number of other things. I really did the minimum; so do NOT be hanging a Mother Teresa sign on me.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel about giving handouts. In contrast to Askar, I know a kid who is working at Blockbuster, a video rental chain losing its links to bankruptcy (get it – losing its “links,” like links in a chain, because it’s a “chain” store). You know a joke isn’t good if you have to put something in parentheses after it.
This kid is down to working about 8 hours a week, and his store is closing in a couple of weeks. Rather than looking for a new minimum wage, no-skill job (which are available because of high turnover), he is getting unemployment. He’s an able-bodied high school graduate who could easily sling hash, pump gas, or collect trash. Instead, with the help of your and my taxes, he can sit home all day and play video games.
I don’t know how the government decides who is deserving of a handout and who isn’t, but I can assure you that this kid is not deserving. At 21, it appears to me that he could be an expensive investment for our tax dollars without any return if this continues throughout his life. Giving him a job makes way more sense than giving him money. Couldn’t that money be put toward temporarily employing him to pick up garbage beside the highway of weeding our national cemetery for a few hours a day?
By now you must be asking, “What is her point, and how come it isn’t funny?” The answer goes back to Askar. I felt guilty not doing more for him, especially when I saw how tired he was, but in the end, if I had done more, would he have accomplished all he did on his own? Would he have had his picture in the yearbook or in the graduation handout or gotten the Mr. Perseverance award? Would the principal talked about him overcoming his struggles on his own and never giving in? She might have been talking about ME, for crying out loud.
There’s an old saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” I believe I was put in Askar’s path and given just enough guilt to offer him the exact amount of help so that he would not lose sight of where he aimed to go.
If I had done more, would he have done less? I’ll never know, but one thing is for sure, I will always feel guilty about not doing more – if you’ve seen “The Blind Side” you’ll know what I’m talking about. Still, I will always feel proud that I did something, and that it turned out right.
About three weekends ago I forgot to pick Askar up after work at 11:30 on a Saturday night. I was home writing my blog and just completely spaced it. I remembered around 1:30 and sent him a text to apologize. He replied that he was on the bus heading home and not to worry about it. I continued to send one apology after another. I felt really bad. He finally replied, “Do not be sorry. You saved my life. I am so thankful for all you do.” Perhaps he was just trying to make me stop texting, but his message soothed my stupidity that night and has helped to ease my guilt at not doing more.
So please do not put a hero sticker on me, because I did just the measliest minimum to help a kid graduate from high school. As it turns out, that was enough, but I’m certainly no saint in so many ways, it’s not even funny.
Speaking of funny, thanks for indulging me while I told a remarkable young man’s story. I was just so proud of him that I got carried away and lost sight of where I aimed to go, which is to give you, oh faithful reader, a little dab of humor every day. I pledge to return to humor on my next blog, and I’ll try really hard to actually be funny.