Love is greater than guilt

So we have a large homeless population in Minneapolis. I had a couple from Austin, TX in my cab last night. The woman works with the homeless population in Austin and so I included a tour of some of our homeless facilities. She was amazed at how big they were.

Personally, if I was living on the streets I would rather be in Austin, TX than Minneapolis, MN… certainly in the winter, but I guess I had never thought about whether we had more or less people who were homeless than other cities. But I do think about people who are homeless a lot and I am very grateful that they are part of my life. They have taught me so much about survival and what is important in life. My senior intership in college was working at a drop in center for homeless youth. I love that as a pedicab driver I get to help and interact with people who are homeless all the time. I love when I have a good night like last night and I am able to give money to people who are homeless.

Most people who are homeless do not have jobs but that does not mean that the don’t have money or ways to get money. In this society we all need money to survive and being homeless does not exempt anyone from that reality. Unemployed people living on the street find ways to get money from government services, private charities and from you. The charities and government programs are a pretty set deal. The best opportunity a person has to improve their situation is with you. You are the variable. Whether or not you give to this other human being is what makes the difference.

But this isn’t really about the homeless. This is everyone. We all survive by someone giving us money. We may say that we earned the money, and certainly we did, but there are other ways to get you to work. Slavery may have been outlawed but we are not so removed from it to forget that it existed.

At least when we are giving money to the homeless we are doing it out of our own free will, right?

Not funking exactly! The homeless use the same tactics to get money from you that corporations do. These are the same tactics that politicians use. They are the same tactics that get us to buy lottery tickets. They are the same tactics that every business uses. They are the same tactics that pedicab drivers use. They play on our emotions. They use our love, hope, fear, joy and guilt to get us to give them money.

So here is my story:

I finished early last night; before bar close. I headed to the Saloon where a number of my friends go for Hard Mondays and still had time to down a couple of strong cocktails before heading to McKenzie for a good beer before the night was over. There I met a guy who was in town from San Francisco to record with my friend Matt “the Doctor” Fink of Prince and the Revolution. There is a whole nuther story there but it’s a bit off topic. Still, we talked until 2:30 am and they said we had to leave. I returned to the Saloon to get my bike and ran into a few friends who were still hanging out. After they left I found myself with the homeless guys who hang out in front of the Saloon.

I didn’t have much to offer but I did have an airline bottle of gin and cigs to go around. A couple of guys insisted on giving me money so I accepted it. In my line of work people insist on giving me money all the time. I kind of have to take it or I don’t get to keep working.

[There are actually about three or four more stories that could go here but I’m sorry, I can’t actually write about everything. If you feel like you are missing anything read the last 70,000 words I’ve written… or stay tuned for the next 70,000,]

At the end of my stay one of the guys asked me if he could get the money he gave me back. This put me in a very awkward position. I will give anyone anything that I can when I am motivated by love. I gave him a cigarette out of love. He gave me money which I received as love and now he wants it back. We had a little conversation and this is what I left him with:

“We had an exchange that was based in love. If I give you money, the money you gave me, it will be tainted with guilt. The love that we shared has more value than the money in my pocket and if you carry that love into the world you will find more money than what you gave me for a cigarette.”

He agreed with me and I hope that he did find more money. If not, I totally own him 53 cents.

Here is my million dollar idea for which I only expect a penny on the dollar:

Stand at the end of a freeway exit with a sign that simply says, “I Love You”. I would suggest using some colored markers and making it pretty but here is the key: hand the drivers who give you money a flower. It could be a wild flower that you pick from the roadside or feel free to come pick flowers from my yard. They say that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar but I don’t think that is true. Besides, who the fuck would want to catch flies anyway? I’m just saying that you can catch more money with love than guilt. For all I know I might be wrong about that but still… as long as you can get what you need – fucking do it with love.

About lefreakshow
A walking contradiction attempting to make sense of this crazy world though the power of creation, exploration and communication.

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