"I Have Cancer, Three Kids, Please Help!"
Of course, the cognitive dissidence of the holiday season and the reality in this country sometimes bites you on the ass and shakes you by the shirt collar. This precise thing happened to me yesterday, while I was Christmas shopping.
Here I was driving around town where I live here in Woodbridge, Virginia, driving down the Prince William Parkway. I pulled into the left turn lane so I could go to Panera Bread to get some lunch, but I just missed the green arrow. That’s when I noticed there was a guy standing on the grassy median strip, right next to my car.
I shot a glance at this guy and I could see that he wasn’t just some guy who was homeless doing some panhandling. We rarely see that here in Woodbridge anyway, with our $400,000 mini-mansions. This guy looked like he was in his late 40’s to mid 50’s, and he was decently dressed and well groomed. He looked like he could be some blue-collar worker, or a maybe an office worker.
I looked into his face and saw nothing but desperation. He was holding a cardboard sign, with a message written in black marker that read:
“I Have Cancer, Three Kids, Please Help!”
I sat there in my car looking at this guy, feeling like complete shit because I had nothing I could think to do to help him. Maybe I could have told him to collect $8,000 and move to Canada where he’ll get free health care. Maybe I could have directed him to some public resource unbeknownst to me that would help him with his dilemma. Hell, maybe just walking up to the guy and giving him a hug would have helped.
But there I sat, at the red light, not knowing what to do, looking at this guy who was desperate and quite possibly looking forward to a very short future that ends in misery and death. That red light seemed to take an eternity. I thought about what possibly could have led this guy to have to swallow his pride and stand out on the street corner and beg for help.
When this is the kind of thing that goes on in this country, we must admit to ourselves that our health care system, as it is currently manifested is a dismal failure. When we have people who must spend the last of their days on this earth begging for someone to help them, then we must say it’s time for a new way of doing things.
If there is anyone out there who knows who this guy is, perhaps there is something we can do collectively to help him. Hell, maybe we can even save his life. What better gift can anyone give for the Holiday Season?