Make no mistake about it, there are neighbors of yours suffering right now. There are people that look totally fine, act like nothing is wrong, and portray an essence of ironclad security that in reality are in total and utter anguish right now. Welcome to life in post-recessionary times, where on the surface everything is on the up and up, while in reality many are on the down and out. In order to understand why I think this, and what it should matter to you, we need to look at the past three weeks.
Three Weeks Ago
I love Atlanta, forget what everybody says about the traffic, Atlanta is amazing. Diverse sections of the city offer delicately prepared fresh Vietnamese food, round the clock Korean BBQ, and of course deliriously good Mexican food. The city has art, shopping, and unfortunately it’s fair share of criminals.
I’ve probably visited Atlanta two dozen times in the past five years, never having a single encounter with crime, unless you count that Black Friday when two female shoppers at Lennox Mall almost had it out in the parking lot over the only remaining spot. Never a single incident in five years, until 3 weeks ago. In a secure garage under the Westin Buckhead my cheap not-that-great-anyways GPS unit was stolen. Nothing else taken, no windows broken, this was a fast crime no doubt. We weren’t able to capture the criminal, but the timing of the crime was inescapably clear. For whatever reason, now people will steal, and they’ll steal expediently in a posh garage sitting on posh grounds in a posh town, they obviously feel like they have no other choice but to take the risk and steal.
Two Weeks Ago
People are always looking for work, but crowds of applicants this voluminous are rarely seen by a small company such as mine. In the past two weeks we’ve had over 300 applications for work from well meaning souls, many of whom have clearly stated they have infinite time to do work because as of right now they have none. Even some of my successful cohorts have asked for jobs, clients too. Everyone is looking for a way to get back on their feet it seems, yet it is unquestionably hard on their pride to ask for help.
I loathe moving, hate it as much as I can, and find it utterly useless. It’s not gratifying, it’s not fun, it’s not quick, and no, it isn’t over when you thought it would be. In short, moving is the hazing one must endure before being initiated into the new homeowner fraternity. As a curious soul that believes everything happens for a reason, I look for value in situations both strenuous and stress-free. In this particular situation, my recent move from one Cayce, SC home to another, I noticed a disturbing trend, as quick as I could throw away a piece of furniture someone would have their hands on it, ready to give it new life. Most would be thrilled with this guilt-free giveaway, but for me it was a bit too simultaneous to leave me feeling free of the old.
Who knew tossing out my favorite easy chair would lead me to a conversation with a teary eyed father that had no furniture for his daughter’s first home? Or that giving away my old blue bar stools would lead to an encounter with a frustrated next-door neighbor that was not only out of work, but also out of finding work due to union constraints. Shocking, the amount of joblessness right now, in the era of the $700 iPad, so many can barely pay their bills, nonetheless keep up with the Joneses.
A coffee shop attracts all types of people, those with the most time on their hands are often the ones that stick around the longest. While my encounters are different here, I’m busy running my PR company out of the back, they still humble me. I see those that aren’t finding work they used to, and those that desperately seek it. I see why my dear South Carolina is so high up on that national list of unemployment rates. I know that if this little coffee shop carries on, and makes it, the purpose of it will be to serve those that need it most. And if not, it’ll be a victim of the same economy that brought those people to us in the first place.
As I see it, quiet suffering is all around us. Sprinkled in with the happiness of spring traditions like school coming to an end, and plans of summer vacations are people that simply want to earn a living again. It’s not that the recession didn’t make all this a reality years ago, it’s that now, as many start to pontificate that the recession is over, I make it known my thoughts on the subject.
You & Me
Just because people don’t speak of their troubles, does not mean they do not exist. Just because they don’t call for help, doesn’t mean they don’t need it. So here is my call to action, let’s get out, let’s do more for others, and let’s not let the quiet convince us everything is okay when it’s so obviously not.