Begging at the Poorhouse Door

I live in a low income apartment complex. This means everyone here is either on Section 8 or earns a minimal income. We are all considered the poorest of the poor. I have been here for two months, though it feels like a blissful eternity. I am even getting used to the six AM vaccume sessions overhead. They help me wake up on time for meetings at least.

I have nice neighbors, the woman and her family upstairs are from India, and we exchange pleasantries often. The man next door is a white guy who works at Taco Bell and has four kids. I have yet to see much issue with my neighbors. However, there is a sudden trend. It might be due to more lay offs, but, suddenly people are begging at my front door. Not once, not twice, three times. I also can hear through the walls and know others are facing this same thing.

It isn’t just that they are begging at low income housing that bothers me. It is really how they beg. The first person who came was utterly honest, “Hey, I am sorry to bother you. We have never met but I live in Apartment 123 (not the real location) and just lost my job. I can’t afford food tonight, can I borrow something? I will pay you back as soon as possible.” I let my Person juggle things like this. Food requests send me over an edge still, and even if I have it I want to be irrationally greedy, fearing my own stomach will go empty. He gave her some gluteny pasta and sauce. He offered more but she declined. This incident doesn’t bother me in the least. I am proud of my Person’s ability to help, proud that we have enough food, and I am secretly glad that the pasta is gone since he eats my Rice pasta with me. Gluten Free leftovers are icky.

The second incident was much weirder. It had been a long day, I had Toastmasters, I had given a speech, then something else draining occured. Sprite was upset, so, I climb down, appraise the distance between me and the door and we manage it. Barely through the door when knock knock knock. “Oh, could you please drive all of this garbage I just pulled out of the dumpster over to my apartment on XYZ street?” I just climbed into bed, leaving him to deal with this intruder. “I’ll give it all to the homeless tommarrow.” Yeah right, that was my instant impulse. My person is more generous than I am with this sort of thing, though he shared my reticence to give a stranger a ride. He helped her carry it to her apartment and did not go inside. She seemed disappointed by the fact that she had to carry her loot, though what she would have done if we had not returned home boggles my mind. Would she have left it there? Was she really just lying in wait? It was creepy. My instincts said it was bad and so did my persons. He expressed concern that people will keep asking to use our vehicle now, because it is a nice, big van. I responded with this, “It’s ours. We say no. I don’t know these people. They do not get to risk my transportation. I was trapped for too long to let that happen.” He agreed.

Just now, i got up from my writing, and went to the restroom. I leave the door open incase I need help. That happens often enough and it is much easier to shout through an open door than a closed one. William Shakespurr has become my Bathroom buddy and he sauntered in just in time to get trapped by the knocking. Person closed the door and I listened intently. “Uh could you buy my cable box? I just got uot of the hospital and I want to sell it.” Two things. The cable box is not hers to sell. The cable company only rents them. I don’t want to buy a cable box that could get me put in jail. “No.” He closed the door then let me and William out.

I discovered upon asking that he has fended several away from the door. This is becoming an agitation. I live in the technical poorhouse too. I am not wealthy. What I have I have earned, struggled for, and often doesn’t go as far as I need. Yes, I am willing to help people when I can but, if you are going to go around with a sob story, several of the incidents I am not able to mention here due to my desire to be blatantly mean about their claims were over the top dramatic sob stories, then at least be realistic. IF you just want cash. Get a job, pan handle on the free way, but do not come asking me for cash.

Just like the rest of America, just like the rest of the world I do not have extra money to spare. AIG has it. Go ask THEM for help with your hospital bills. Go ask them to feed your child, or to let you stay in their apartments for one night. This is not a homeless shelter, this is not a charity. This is my home. Back off.

Though I can be nice, kind, and charming. Though that is my default behavior pattern, when I feel invaded in my home I will show my teeth and proverbial claws. I do not like guests, except an exclusive few. I do not like strangers trying to invite themselves in.

I was homeless. I get going hungry. There are organizations, charities, and help groups that will feed you, clothe you, and most will try and help you get work. There are rent assistance programs, there are a myriad of ways to try and get help. Begging at the door of a person who is just as poor as you? That is not it.

No this essay is not gentle, it is merely my statements of fact and opinion. Every person has equal access to help, so ask in the right place and the right way. There are even places that will help you if you are not a legal citizen, without having you deported. Got it? Stay away from my door unless you are going to be a welcomed guest, do not ask for the few things I have. I do not share my necessities when they are barely obtained.

Do not ask me for food, shelter, clothing. I offer what I have to the world. My cast offs do not get thrown away, they get given to charities or those in need. You can ask me for help finding food, shelter, and clothing. I am currently in need of many of those things.

Although I do not begrudge the first request, a part of me wonders if giving that woman food is why everyone else is coming here. The first was no leech, but the rest? That sucking sensation has drained me of my good will.

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4 Comments

  1. Times are tough all around. If you know of the places that have the resources, you could give a list to those who need help. You can tape a message to your door explaining that you don’t have anything but the list will provide them with more than they could ever get from you.

    I’m sorry times are tight for you…they are tight for us too. Hopefully we will both see the light at the end of the tunnel and breathe a sigh of relief when this financial crisis comes to an end.

  2. That’s a great idea! I do know a lot of the resources, and they aren’t all that hard to find, but, a lot of the people here might not have the time after dealing with kids and trying to find work. I think I’ll do that ASAP.

    Thank you!

  3. You’re welcome hon. I think keeping our wits about us during these times helps us to grow during difficult times. It easy to become unglued (at least for me it is) but I know that there is always a way to give, in those times…which helps to restore balance when we are off kilter a little.
    If people were knocking at my door asking for stuff it would wear on me too.
    I belong to a group called Freecycle and when I first started on that group I’d put in an ad of what we needed or wanted and I would always get the moderator emailing me and telling me to offer something first and then put up a “wanted”. LOL I told her when I first started that I had NOTHING, nada to offer at all but after seeing how the program works it wasn’t hard to aquire things that I didn’t need to use them to offer…and then put in my wanted ad! I was able to get some things from them like mattresses, a table and chairs, a TV and also a desk. It can come in handy. If you aren’t a part of Freecycle here is the website and you can add it to your list. It’s free to join:
    http://www.freecycle.org/group/US/New%20Mexico/Albuquerque

  4. I am a member of Freecycle. My Person and I also furnished our house for free. We moved in and discovered the only pieces of furniture that we had were for me. My bed, My Desk, My one sad, broken bookshelf. Thankfully I discovered a bunch of old stuff I needed gone. Perfume, that was dangerous and almost sent me to the ER. We have a TV now, because of Freecycle. I even have white boards to continue my novel storyboarding on.

    I have trouble with my temper sometimes too, especially when I feel invaded. I don’t answer the door because of that very invasion. My Person or my Assistant gets to do it. The last time i opened the door was before I knew I was a Celiac and when I was ordering pizza for the first time. It ended with the Pizza guy falling down the stairs (I am not sure why, could’ve been my teeshirt) and my neighbors all trying to get in for a free slice.

    I am sure some of my territorialness comes from one of the experiences or challenges but the last thing I want to do is be the grouchy old lady who doesn’t share. Isn’t that what they teach is wrong in Elementary? Share your blocks !


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