Gray Saturday

Posted: November 24, 2007 in Children, Homelessness, Mental Health, Money, Morality, Senior Citizens, Veterans

Yesterday was "Black Friday" and is considered THE biggest shopping day of the year – and geez-o-pete were the people out shopping! Shopping malls, shopping centers and department stores of every kind were besieged by folks out to "get a bargain."

While I don’t know the history behind the term "Black Friday" I suspect that it has to do with the idea of businesses being either in the "black" or in the "red" – although I’m sure that the must be at least one or two businesses somewhere who like to use "blue" ink.  

The other thing that also happened is that the radio stations started playing Christmas music. I’m willing to bet that all most of the shopping malls and department stores did the same. I suspect that the reason behind that was to get everyone into the "spirit of giving" and "goodwill to all men" attitudes – because after all who wants customers going around in their stores during Christmas shopping season doing their imitations of Ebenezer Scrooges’ "Bah, Humbug!" That would be bad for business, wouldn’t it?

Of course, by getting people into the spirit of giving while they’re shopping might also have some subliminal effect on having people spend more money while they’re shopping. I’m not sure, so I may check into that someday.

Yesterday, while I was sitting at a fast food restaurant having a cup of coffee and typing away on my laptop’s keyboard, I realized that "Jingle Bells" was playing in the background. Behind me, there was a young woman who was humming in time with the music to herself.

Today the mad rush of the opening day of the Christmas shopping season has subsided a bit. But I imagine the department stores are hoping that yesterday’s momentum will carry over. So on goes all of the festive shopping for everyone. Well… not exactly for everyone.

This Christmas season there will be approximately some 1.5 million children who won’t have as festive a Christmas as everyone else. These children are part of America’s homeless population. For a large portion of them, a "good" Christmas will simply be having somewhere indoors to sleep.

Another segment of American’s who probably aren’t having the merriest of Christmas’ are America’s nearly 50,000 senior citizens who are homeless. These are folks who are on fixed incomes and due to skyrocketing housing prices and the decline of affordable housing who are now forced to live on the streets of our nation’s cities.

There will be some 400,000+ persons who suffer some form of mental illness who will spend this Christmas trying to find a place to be. Some, who have extreme mental illnesses will find themselves eating out of trash cans and dumpsters for their Christmas meal.

Last, but more certainly not least, there are America’s approximately 500,000+ homeless veterans. Men and women who have worn this nation’s uniform – most of who have seen combat – and who now have been discarded by the very society and ideals they fought to protect. A large number of them are disabled in one manner or another. And while they aren’t necessarily looking for a pat on the back all they want is to have a proper chance to become part of society again and come "back to the world."

So while many of this nation’s citizenry went out and became a part of Black Friday, for the homeless of this nation today is just another gloomy day with little or no sunshine forecasted for their immediate future. You might say that for them today is "Gray Saturday."

But then again, for America’s homeless, everyday is filled with dark clouds.

  1. The Wolf of ALPHASPACE says:

    My friend Mabel turned me on to this website about the homeless, a subject near and dear to my heart.

    I helped Gene a homeless man get off the streets. I will update you, Gene now lives on his own in a small studio apartment near me. His favorite thing to say is would you like to come over to my place for coffee food and watching DVD’s.

    Gene has a good job for someone with his mental disabilities. I keep in close contact with both Gene and his manager in case Gene needs help otherstanding things because, taking directions give Gene trouble so I help him understand. At work they do not have the time to help Gene understand so I visit when he needs help with what he calls understanding job stuff.

    I read this article to Gene and he said his life used to be one BIG BLACK CLOUD! Gene says his being beat up by them kids was the best thing that ever happened to him because it let us meet. Gene actually tried to fight me off when I wanted to help him. Gene was not in his right mind at the time because he was losing blood from a head wound and just blindly fighting anyone thet got near him.

    I am a short black middle aged guy. I have many disabilities including autism. A large number of kids ran past me at least one of them holding a gushing wound of their own. I walked toward a recessed area containing five or so dumpsters resting on concrete pads. Seeing the kids hearing what they said made me look at the dumpster area for a person. I saw a big area of blood smeared on the ground but no person. I saw blood drops that went on for about a block. Having nothing better to do I followed the blood trail into a hidden cove of more dumpsters away from the primary fight scene. I heard a moaning and rustling of papers.

    There was this enormous man 6 ft 6 inches tall, well muscled weighing every bit of 350 pounds if not more. He was blotting up blood coming from his forehead with nasty old newspaper and napkins from disgarded fast food meals that missed the dumpster. I could not leave him in this vulnerable situation. He did attempt to fight me when I came in trying to help him.

    This big guy protested by threatening to do me violence if I approached and I respected that by keeping my distance. I did tell him soon he would loose consciousness at which time I would help him. He was sitting up but big as he was he fell back hitting his head on the pavement hard. At that time I helped him, he made a few half hearted attempts to do me harm each I easily deflected. I tied my clean shirt around his head and called for an ambulance and when one came I went to the ER with him because he asked me to.

    We were seen by the doctors but, you know how hospitals are. I had nothing to do so I waited with Gene. We talked for hours about everything and I found Gene was slow witted but, a very kind man deep down. Life in general and the streets in particular had made him appear hardened cold even sadistic since these things were tools needed to survive in prison and on the inner cities mean streets.

    I have helped many homeless people in my lifetime. If a good person who wants my help asks, I will do my best to help him because, being autistic I know what it is like to suffer alone without help. I know what it is like when people consider you so retarded they do not give you a chance to succeed. Gene was hard and cold as a gray day in December but, you had to look beyond the dark black clouds in his eyes to see that he too just needed hope to reignite the joy stored up to share from his heart.

    Sometimes its just the littlest bit of love, advice and caring that makes the difference between chronically homeless and happy, healthy productive lives.

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