Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Touch of Humanity

 * * * I'll warn you now, this post is a bit wordy * * *

I hadn't planned a post for today. But something happened last night that really touched me and softened the hard core that had begun to form inside. I wanted to share this something with you.

Let me begin ........   I am a member of an online discussion forum for the town in which I live. It can be a lively place with discussions ranging from sun spots to wild hogs to politics. It's a great place to keep up on what's happening in the county, advertise items for sale, place a notice for a lost dog, or share recipes. I'm not necessarily a frequent contributor but will sometimes join discussions when I feel the need. And with the impending move, I have listed many items for sale.

One of these items was a 1950s style dining table set with matching hutch. I had tried to sell it for months and finally a lovely Lady called me to purchase it. This woman and her husband live in Galveston, Texas but had recently purchased a local commercial building for a future venture. She had the table set moved to this building. I never thought I would hear from this woman again. This took place about two weeks ago.

Let's fast forward to yesterday morning. Someone had posted on the forum the news about how some employers who place ads on the many online employment websites, state in their ads that the unemployed need not apply. This seems to be the growing trend. And it is perfectly legal. This struck a nerve with me because of my Hubby's recent encounter with being unemployed. I wanted to see what thoughts people had on this subject. All too often the people who are on the forum will only see things one way, never stopping to look at all angles of a situation. In this case the thread was degenerating into a bashing of those people who had drawn unemployment for the full 99 weeks - or 99ers as they are called. My Hubby was a 99er and this 'name calling' did not set well with me.

I would like for you to read my post.....
I wasn't going to join this discussion, but feel I must before folks start bashing the 99ers
Firstly, not all 99ers are leeches of the Gov't. Yes, there are some that choose to stay on unemployment rather than get a job but NOT ALL!

My husband was employed at the Mena airport and was laid off late in the year of 2008. He looked and looked for work around here. I looked for work. My skills were limited while his were not. Yet, neither of us could find a job. It was not financially possible for us to take a job in Ft. Smith or Hot Springs - it would cost us more in gas to commute than what either of us would make in wages. Believe me, neither of us WANTED to live off unemployment but yet that was our only option if we were to stay in the area.

So Hubby went to school to learn a new skill while continuing to draw unemployment. He felt that by doing this he would better his chances of getting a job, thus supporting his family and not being a "Leech" on The System. Sorry to say the education he received only enabled him to qualify for minimum wage jobs - he had neither the education nor the experience required for many of the better paying jobs in his new chosen field. So Hubby went back to applying for positions in fields where he had worked previously - auto body tech and motorcycle mechanic. He could make 3x to 4x the amount of money doing manual labor vs. a job that he had received an education for.

Hubby submitted resumes and applications - an average of 3 a day (for a period of 2 1/2 months) before he was finally hired. One place he went, a manager looked at his application and told him that they weren't accepting applications from the unemployed. Hubby told them he had been attending school. Hubby went to another place about 4 hrs after the job was posted on Craig's list. The manager already had a stack of at least a dozen applications and they were going to continue to take applications for two more days. The job market is extremely tough!!

I'm happy to say that Hubby started a new job just this past Monday. 

A member responded with an attempt to placate me on 'how well things turned out' but never once admitting that the 99ers weren't all lazy, slouches wanting to live off the Government. This was the same member who had begun the name calling. I know it is hard to admit to being wrong, but .....
This same member then went on to write about how lucky we were to have found work in the area and how 'easy' it is to receive public assistance (back to the lazy, slouches who live off the Gov't.)

My responses were.....
Actually Hubby didn't find work here. There are still not enough jobs to go around in this part of the country. Hubby found work in Denver. And that is where he had put in all of his applications for employment. We both knew that he wasn't going to get a good paying job around here, if he got a job at all. And the only "cost of living" that is higher there is rent and the cost of homes. Food, utilities, gas are all cheaper than here in Mena. I know this because I have three children who live in the Denver Metro area. I have compared utility bills (yes, down to the price per kilowatt or cost per gallon of water) and the cost of food. 
Maybe for some it is easy. But for others in need it is near impossible to receive any sort of assistance. When Hubby was on unemployment, we applied for food stamps. We didn't qualify because we owned our own home and our vehicles. According to the Gov't. we didn't qualify because we had too much in the way of assets. We felt like we were being punished...There were many times we borrowed from our kids to help make ends meet.
As far as I know, welfare checks are a thing of the past. My daughter who is pregnant and has three small children only qualifies for food stamps and WIC. (Due to a twist of events, my Son-in-law can no longer provide for his family) No monetary assistance from the Gov't. is available. If it wasn't for family, she and the kids would be living in a shelter.

There were only a few response after mine. And they all wrote about what a 'flawed' system the Gov't. has in determining who is eligible for public assistance. I figured that was the end of that. I was a bit disappointed that no members wished us well but I wasn't surprised. The people of this area have become quite self-centered and selfish.

And then I received an email notice that a forum member had sent me a personal message. It was from the Lady who had bought the table from me a couple weeks back. This email took me totally by surprise.....

Hi Jeanne; I read a little of what you and your husband have been going through. I think there are many people now who are standing in the shoes you've been in, many more so than I can remember at any other time in my life. I now know the reason you will be moving, and I'm glad that things turned out well for you, even though it's too bad it means you'll be leaving the Mena area. I would like to have met you. We'll be spending the first two weeks of Sept. in Mena, getting a little work done on the building, and also just enjoying the beautiful scenery. If you happen to be still living there then, and find yourself out and about, I hope you'll stop by and say hello. I warn you we'll be dressed in our work clothes! My best wishes to you and your family. 

I was brought to tears when I read her short note. There really are people out there in the world who care about others. I know the Blogging World is filled with caring, generous people but knowing that this one woman who didn't know me could reach out like she did  really softened the rock which had begun to form in my heart. Not one member of the community we live in - some who knew my Hubby quite well - had bothered to check to see how we were doing after he was laid off.

So, please, DO NOT hesitate to reach out to someone. Take a moment to send someone a letter or an email. Even if it's just to say, "Hey, I'm thinking about you".  Smile at more people - even if you don't feel like smiling.  Remember it's these little things that can brighten someone's day more than you'll ever know.


debbieluttrell said...

I'm glad that you found one soul in your community that took the time to reach out to you, and act like they actually care about the dilemma that you have been going through. I think that these days, so many people are self-centered, and it's too much a bother to see what they can do for their neighbors. They don't ask if they can help, because they're afraid that the answer might be 'yes'.
I haven't looked for work for several years, so I had no idea about the rules that some companies have laid down about not hiring unemployed. That gets my tail in a crook.

LuLu Kellogg said...

That really chaps my hide. I could use some colorful language but I will keep my potty mouth in check!

I wish people that said they "weren't accepting applications from the unemployed" could walk in your shoes for a day. It truly infuriates me.

Thank heavens for the people like the lady that reached out to you. What a wonderful soul.

I hope your day is filled with love.


Jeanne said...

Debbie ~ You are so right, people are afraid they will have to help others out. Such a shame when our society has sunk to those depths. The sad thing is though, the woman who reached out doesn't even live here (yet). That says a lot about this 'deeply religious' community.

LuLu ~ Thank you so much for the well wishes. ♥

Anonymous said...

Your story touched my heart and brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for the reminder! *hugs*

Danni said...

Thank you for the reminder that there really still are good people out there. Sometimes, in this day and age of selfishness and prejudices, it's hard to remember that.

Unemployed need not apply? Really? That's the craziest thing I've ever heard.

Kallan said...

Oh Jeanne.. what a poignant post! I am so glad your hubby found employment and you can be near your children. I'm so sorry you both experienced this. Most of all, I'm so happy that this woman was able to make a difference with a simple message. That's exactly what we all should be doing. It's the little things that make the big difference. HUGS!

Jeanne said...

Annette ~ Thank you! ♥

Danni~ It doe seem that the 'good people' are fewer and farther between these days. And many employers see those that have been unemployed for a great length of time as 'lazy slouches who don't want to hold down a job'. It doesn't matter the circumstances.

Kallan, Thank you! ♥ And yes, it is often the little things that can make a HUGE difference.

Wendy the (Very) Good Witch said...

Jeanne, I read your post and it reminded me of the many things that bother me about how our assistance programs work here in the states and how kind the human spirit can be. But I am really troubled by employers refusing interviews/jobs to people just because they've been out of work. I had no idea that was happening. That doesn't even begin to make sense to me. In this economy, there are lots of people who haven't been able to work and not for lack of that's all the more reason to consider them first if they are qualified and need the job. How are things supposed to get better if employers go by those kind of rules?

I know there are people here who are perfectly able to work and refuse to because they get more in government assistance than they'd make if they worked. They have no desire and no incentive to be contributing citizens. That's just wrong. They abuse the system which in turn takes assistance away from those who really need it. Then there are those who want and need to work, but can't find jobs and fall through the cracks of qualifying for the assistance. It's such a mess, and is in need of some major reform. :o(

Anyone's circumstances can change in the blink of an eye. So it's always important to not only be grateful for all we have, but to extend compassion to those who are struggling. Not everyone is in a position to financially help others, but that doesn't prevent them from being a source of love and encouragement for them through their hardships. That's an offering that everyone can afford to extend to their fellow man.

Sending you a big hug today! xo
~ W

Wendy S. said...

I think people get so fearful when it comes to money and the fear of losing it instead of reaching out, showing love and compassion which makes people "richer." Good for you to stand up for others! And what a balm to the soul the response you received that demonstrated that underneath all the fear people remember what's truly important...other people and our common struggles.

Justine's Halloween said...

I heard about this on the news recently. It's unbelievable that employers wouldn't accept applications from people who need the work! That makes absolutely no sense to me and I also cannot believe this is legal to do.

It is good to remember that there are positive people out there in the world. I know that is easy to forget sometimes, but I really do believe there are more good people than there are bad. I'm sending positive thoughts your way!

Suzie said...

I'm just now catching up, Jeanne, from when we were away. .it is times like this, that I wish that we lived closer. Like so many others, I feel closer to the friends that I have made, long distance, than I do to my own neighbors, most of which don't even know my name, even though I've told them many, many times.

It seems that the unemployed are now the social stigma that people who are dealing with cancer and other serious diseases have known for years. Once their friends and acquaintances find out, they disappear into the woodwork.

You already said it so perfectly. .to just reach out and say "Hi" can brighten both of your days. .sharing a batch of cookies, or offering to mow a lawn, or just spend a few minutes, talking, can mean the world!

Tracy Tisher said...

I am so proud of Ed, in only a few weeks he has managed to do sooo much here. He has gotten a job, a home, a bank account and a license..not to mention he has helped fix our dryer, my tiki bar, Jeremy's car and oiled our back screen door, etc,. "Lazy slouch" my a$$, he has done more work than I have seen most "employed" people do in the last few weeks! I am so happy that you both will be nearby soon:) We love you!!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

A very thoughtful post! Here in Canada, employers could never advertise that unemployed people cannot apply for a job -- that would break our anti-discrimination laws. And no single Mom with 3 kids but no income would be left unsupported. I hope some day that the U.S. gets its priorities straight and uses its immense wealth for the public good, not simply private gain.

And yay for Hubby's new job!