Five a.m. on a cold, dark, snowy morning — a lazy, teat-sucking SS recipient looks out her window to see another lazy American trudging down the middle of the street with a heavy backpack, walking to work. The walks aren’t shoveled, so many early birds walk in the street. I know this woman: In her fifties, probably a nurse, walking to the hospital nearby. She lives a few blocks down, so she has already walked some. We exchange greetings in other seasons when the entitlement-seeking old person is working her garden before she eases into her summertime, bonbon eating day. The lazy SS recipient is up all hours of the night, worrying about bills and the state of her homeland. Nothing much she can do about her homeland — and come to think of it, not much she’ll be able to do about her bills this month. Bad winters are expensive, as well as soul sucking.
As she looks to the right, another lazy, Mexican-American is shoveling his mother-in-laws’ walk before he goes to work at his minimum wage first job of the day. What? He’s lucky he’s working. Soon the young college students who are also entitled and expecting the rest of us to pick up their schools bills, will arrive at her walk to clear the sidewalks. Her snow bills have already passed what she paid last year. She’ll have to find cuts somewhere else.
Eventually, a lazy, single mother of three (on food stamps, naturally) and a friend of the old lady’s, will trek fearlessly to the bus stop a few blocks down to get to her waitress job. Her mother has already arrived at her house, also intrepidly picking her way among the lovely snow drops to get to her grandchildren, all of whom will suit up in coats, boots, etc. and walk to school. This grandmother has been doing this since I’ve been here and when the kids were babies. Her mother doesn’t get paid; she and her husband do it for the love of their lazy daughter. The father of the children will move into the house again this year, I’m told. He finally got some work. It will be it easier for the family if they live together — it’s for survival, and it makes sense. The old lazy woman likes the waitress very much. The lazy waitress was also going to school for a year or so while working but has put it off til the kids are older. Besides the school program was cut so she didn’t have the money, but she’s saving.
The old woman should probably telephone her son before he leaves for work today. He’s worked a few double shifts lately, and she is worried about him.
Someone across the street is trying to start her car. Unsuccessfully — uh uh — she’ll have to take a cab or the bus. The old woman knows this nice lady doesn’t have a pair of decent boots. She mentioned to her last week she needs to buy new boots but has put it off. Not a good put-off item – well made boots. The last pair I bought just this year cost a few hundred dollars. This lady has often given the old witch a lift here and there. She has a good heart, this lady. Not necessarily a life plan – a good heart – it’s also expensive. But thank God for those that have it. I guess.
The old woman has a friend living with her who had lost her apartment and job. She’s been here for about six months now. You know that old saying: Two can live as cheaply as one. It’s not true. The nuns used to say: Girls, when you are kind to each other — that all builds up in the world and in your lives. We will all be the better for it. Really sister — really? Sadly the old lady is beginning to doubt it. That’s the soul-sucking part: The practice of kindness has been drummed into us but maybe it doesn’t make much of a difference. It’s not good business.
Tired of her fruitless ruminations, the old lady puts her own boots on and feeds the sparrows who have gathered on the trees and porch and are now balefully demanding their vittles. You can say this about birds, especially sparrows – they do sing for their supper. As well, she will check the food she’s put out for the cats and possums last night too see if they’ve eaten. She shakes her head. Not such a practical idea to think much about goodness or kindness in this world — just do it and thank God you’re able to do it … I guess.
Photo by ctj71081 released under a Creative Commons license.