He comes my door. He looks 80, he is 60. He asks for work, ' Neccisita trabajar? ' Sure. Sure there is work that needs to be done, a lot of it. The front yard needs mowing, clipping, the back yard needs weeding, mowing and clipping. Dirt needs to be shoveled. In the brown leather wallet my Grandma Elizabeth gave me for my birthday before she got too sick with Parkinson's to buy birthday presents anymore, I have $120 dollars, all of which is being given to COX for phone, television and internet, the things that are our households pleasure activities, what we can afford for entertainment, outside of the bookstores, hiking and free outside activities we do regularly.
We have a four bedroom house with an enormous and beautiful sunroom, where I am typing this now. We have four cats and two dogs and three children and medical bills that could ruin a small country. We pay the minimum balance on our bills every month and have no credit cards or debt outside of my medical and his IRS from the business folding, ie: no pleasure debts. We are lucky to have Grandparents for our children who pay for their summer camp and school activities. We rent a room in our home. We work full time. We take classes at community college when we can. My car is making a loud clicking noise when I press the gas and is going to die anyday now, and we have no money to fix it. We are not making it, but we are making it. We are afloat on top of a sewer.
He has no home. He has left his entire family back in Tijuana to walk the suburban streets of San Diego and knock on thick wooden doors to ask for work. He wears the same jeans, cowboy boots, belt and shirt every day, and a hooded sweatshirt when it is cold. Sometimes he rides a bike the local church donated. He stands in front of Vons looking for work on weekends. His face is deeply lined, his body lean and compact. He spends hours each day walking. He does manual labor in strangers houses, for less than minimum wage. He has no health insurance, and if anything goes wrong that is not an emergency, he has nowhere to go for help. He has spent his entire life working very hard and has no savings, no house, no knowledge that there is any kind of better future waiting for him, no money for luxeries and pleasures to help him forget that life is so hard.
I take out my wallet and force myself to give him the $10. I am not proud of myself. It was hard to give him a pathetic ten dollar bill in exchange for his hard work. I could give up my coffee for a week and that would be his meal. I watch him leave with bag of food I handed him and think about him, and then I think about myself. What kind of life do I want to live? What kind of person do I want to be? What the fuck really matters to me in this life?
What really matters?
' What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others remains and is immortal. '- Albert Pike