If you are a regular reader, it wouldn’t take much to figure out that I feel deeply about helping others. Hell, my family still shakes their heads wondering why I choose to do the work I do when I could easily use my talents in the corporate sector. I admit there are days I think I could be like some of my former classmates from grad school living the financially easy life rather than toiling away as the chief officer at a small non-profit organization. In the end though people matter more to me. It’s hard because I strive to truly live according to my values which at times is a test when you have champaign taste on a kool-aid budget. One of the reasons I have such extreme student loan debt was because I initially planned to leave the non-profit sector and move over to the corporate sector, in the end though my desire to help folks won out.
However that is not the point of this post, but it just tells you where I am coming from. Yesterday, the exterminator came by to deal with the pest problem which did indeed turn out to be a return of the mice to our barn. The barn is attached to our house so it was time to re-bait the barn. I had not seen our pest control guy in a while since it was 3 years since he last came for the mice and over a year since he came because of another pest issue we were dealing with in this lovely old house.
Last time we had seen him, he was recovering from a bout of cancer (specifics escape me) but since we had last seen him he had suffered three strokes and frankly when he showed up I was concerned about his ability to work. Hell, I felt bad calling him but he had his same crazy sense of humor and explained that not working wasn’t an option. In fact just yesterday morning he had contacted our senator Olympia Snowe’s office because it seems his recent health care bills were not being covered by the VA. He further explained that he was still working because frankly he could not afford not to work, so that yes he was slower than he used to be the bottom line was taking an extended time off to recover from his ailments was not an option.
Looking at him, my heart broke yet I was also scared, scared because for so many of us in this country, we have no safety nets. If we have insurance to cover our ailments, the question then is do we have the money to take time off work to truly recover? Yeah, we have things like Social Security Disability but to access those funds takes so much time that you might be dead or homeless on the streets before you get it. Hell, my Mother died before her file was even reviewed when it became clear that she was not going to be working any time soon after her second major surgery in less than two months.
No, I see too many folks struggling to stay afloat and neglecting themselves because we as a society don’t have realistic assistance programs to help folks especially folks who are used to working who sometimes need a helping hand.
In the supposedly richest nation on the planet a man who is recovering from three strokes as well as being a cancer survivor who can only eat a liquid diet should not have to spend hours dealing with chemicals to rid folks of household pests. The fact that he is not some oddity but one of millions struggling to survive speaks to how fucked up we are as a society.