Updates for Monday, November 3rd [2003]

One Homespun Beggar and a Date?


Dear Enternet Public and Beggars alike,

Today is Monday once again, and in this week I find myself taught many valuable lessons of the chusing of some divine will, for without such precipitation by such a thing, I would not have wound up as I have.

I began my week with the remainder of my pay, $24 dollars. This was unfortunately dwindled to nothing by Friday. I had purchased some milk, some eggs, some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and enough to get by, with the few dollars I had remaining, I wound up using the spare funds to ride the bus, preventing myself from making the walk to work. Several of these days presented a particularly forboding problem, as the curious people and beggars that gather near these bus stops insist on acquiring change for various things such as car help, food, and bus fare. In fact, one day a dubious mongrel asked me to make change for him, one paperback dollar note for his four silver quarter dollars. This seemed like a fair exchange, but he used it as an opportunity to see how much money I had, and after the transaction, asked for the remaining three dollars I had, accusing me of holding out on him when he "needs" the help. I scoffed at the scoundrel, and walked off, while he insulted me for being greedy and white. Maybe there still is racism today.

Another beggar tried to sell me some bus passes. I purchased one, but realized later from the word of a honest bus patron that this was a fraudulent trade, as they are often sold for more than their cost, or faked, or outright stolen. What none of these impoverished panderers realize is that while I may be better off than they, I am still very much in need of every dollar I have. Many people in my situation, I imagine, would be in need of every cent of their personal income. Plus, none of these individuals do I see truly starving or otherwise truly poor, at least, not by the recollection I once had of the poor before I was here. Many with better clothes than the peasantry of my day, many fat, many seemed not worn by weather, meaning they found shelter somewhere, which all means in my opinion that these are people who do not "need" my money to survive.

What really disturbed me was a man who I did not see as a beggar in the slightest, but who was treated as such. I went downtown Thursday on an errand for Daniel (he says he wants me to make an advanced order on a new "video game", which he says is vital to the household, I do not quite understand it's importance). I was walking down the path to the downtown mall, and as I approached the local square and I found a kind old man sitting next to a wall near an exquisite statue of a man holding an umbrella. This kindly old man pulled me aside to offer me the service of shining my shoes. This seemed like a fair place to conduct such business, and while cold, it was fair enough weather. So I gave the man one dollar and 3 quarters to provide a shoe shine for the old boots Daniel left for me. We had a pleasant conversation as to the recent colder inclination of the weather, as I had a few notes on me about the wind direction and coverage of local clouds which I showed him. He asked if I was a meteorologist but I told him I did not believe in meteors. Once finished, the shoes looked quite good, and I paid him and wished him well on his day... but as I walked away, this kind gentleman was being troubled by the local police officers. I drew closer to investigate. Aparently the police scolded the man for conducting his business there, and told him that employees of the nearby courthouse and coffee stand had made complaints to his everyday presence. He debated this assertion finely, saying that he was a meager old man who had little else but his shoe shining, making mention of a man named Elijah Hill doing cheap business in this very square, although I do not quite understand the importance of that reference. Eventually he lost his verbal debate with the authorities and was demanded to leave the premises, as they cursed at him being a "filthy bum" and a beggar.

How is this man a beggar? He does not pander for money, like the others who were not forced to leave, but instead offered passers-by with a service, quite a valuable service for those of us who care about the quality of the appearance of one's shoes. I found this, in the very least, very disturbing.

As I left, a crazed monk tried to sell me a book offering enlightenment, and I passed a building that offered me a free personality test which came with a discount on a popular new film... I decided it'd be a wise policy to not engage in trade with some of the locals downtown.

I met again with Miss C., at the library. I went there to research some on my friend Benjamin Franklin's electricity work, amazed at how it has come to create motors which power virtually all devices in some way. Miss C. approached me, and we had a pleasant conversation about her day.

Me: How are you this fine afternoon?

Miss C.: Oh, pleasant to see you again Tom, I'm doing very good. Class was kind of frustrating, however.

Me: What was the problem?

Miss C.: Well, I'm writing up a project studying the civil rights aspect of the Civil War. I want to focus on the constitutional amendment and require a 1-page essay on Fredrick Douglass, but the other grade 4 teacher, Mr. Alexander LaDuke, insists I focus entirely on Lincoln and have the students memorize the Emancipation Proclamation. I'm tired of him meddling with my curriculum, it's not his business what projects I add to the core curriculum and how I grade them. He constantly tells me how to do my job, and is often talking to the principle, to try to get me scolded for having more extra credit projects for students who are behind and being "light" on how I grade. I'm tired of people getting into my business. You ever have that happen?

Me: Oh yeah, especially by people named Alexander. I think your projects are fine learning material for any student.

Miss C.: Thank you. I belong there alongside any teacher there. Well I just need to get out and relax some I think. I have to leave, so maybe me and you could meet up sometime later this week? I'll give you my number, you can call me.

Me: Oh, this seems fine, where would we meet?

Miss C.: We'll talk about that later. Thanks for listening Tom, it's very frustrating sometimes to have to deal with some of the other teachers there, they just don't get that not everything is their business.

Me: Definitely an understandable complaint. Have a nice evening Miss C.

Miss C.: You too, Tom.

So I await a good time, probably tomorrow, to call and set up a meeting for some further discussion. Work continues as it will, but I am having problems keeping up with the various traders. Ms. Everson is on my back about always checking identification, taking my breaks on time, and washing my hands. I do these things but she seems to feel they are more a requirement and constantly tell me to clean various things for the health inspection. When I inquired about that she made it clear that these inspectors are sanctioned by the state. It's a miracle that any business is open with legislators making simple routines legal enforcements and hiring inspectors to investigate peaceful, lawful trade.

Well, that is some discussion for another time. Your humblest & most affectionate srvant,

- TH. Jefferson

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