Tuesday, March 16, 2010

From One Holy Beggar to Another

In a previous post I mentioned that I realized I was more a giver than beggar. (Critical thinking is so important: taking a long, higher, deeper look at the situation from other angles!)

I was then puzzled about my role as the Holy Beggar. Did I indeed have to get out on a street corner, begging bowl in hand, perhaps a dog or other attention - sympathy getter at my side, a compellingly designed and annotated sign professing my sincerity, need, etc.?

I recently saw such a fellow HB, he was about 30+, clean shaven, baseball cap, jeans and a T shirt, day pack, cardboard sign, "Need help. Please!" standing on the medial strip before a freeway on-ramp. I was on my way to my volunteer job.

Instinctively I plunged my hand into the Holy Begging purse and pulled out a dollar, signaled for him to come and gave it to him. He had a nice manner, thanked me. I then asked whether he was out of work (Yes. I'm a day laborer and didn't get work today. I need money for food.) I told him I was out of work myself, over a year. He agreed it was tough out "here" and thanked me, again.

The light turned green and I entered the roadway.

So, while I wasn't personally begging, I made a connection and felt that I empowered him to do it for me. He held my place and that of millions of we folks out of work in this miserable economy. Thus, I was doing what I did well and perhaps he was doing OK, too.

Something to consider. I think there's some sort of spiritual rightness about it. We are helping each other.

I really miss spending money doing mitzvot (good deeds) even in simple ways.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Unemployment Compensation Blues

Back in the 1960s I was an avid "folkie", playing my guitar every day, transcribing tunes from the static-ky Philadelphia fm station so that I could keep up with some of the more rooted but nonetheless topical songs of the period. Tonight I remembered one of my favorites, "Unemployment Compensation Blues", words and music by Les Pine, adapted by Jerry Silverman, copyright 1949 by People's Songs, Inc. that was transferred to SING OUT in 1957) and published in Sing Out! volume 3. It has a sweet blues-y tune that doesn't seem to salve my growing resentment about the current situation. The lyrics are not really dated (except for the fact that there are fewer requirements to have a meeting with an EDD staffer (thank heavens!)

I've got those
Unemployment compensation
What was your last occupation blues.
I've got those
How much money did you earn
Stand in a line and wait your turn blues.
They make me feel I'm committing a sin
To get back part of what I paid in.
I've got those
Have you had an interview
Come back in a week or two blues.

I've got those
Unemployment compensation
Please fill out an application blues
I've got those
State your weekly minimum
You don't wanna work you bum blues
And when I'm thru with my weekly routine
I spend my money on thorazine
I've got those
By the time I get my check
I become a nervous wreck blues.

I've got those
Unemployment compensation
It ain't worth the aggravation blues.
I've got those
Won't you wait, just have a chair
Nothin' in my frigidare blues
I'm tired of fellin' like a jerk
All I want is a chance to work
And lose those
Out of work humiliation
Unemployment compensation blues

I may update it with a few verses, including stimulus, extension, COBRA, online / e mail job hunt, etc.
Stay tuned (as much as one needs for folk music ...)

No matter what,
Don't forget to ask for the money!