December 3, 1996
English / Mr. Lunt
Why Are the Homeless Homeless?
There are many homeless people out on the streets of the large cities in
this great nation. When unemployment still hasn't gotten near zero and new
jobs are being created every day, people are starting to ask why there are
still homeless people in the alleys and on the sidewalks of this country.
This seems to be an ever haunting problem even though it would be so easy for
homeless people to just get a job. Let's look at the general requirements for
applying for and keeping a job. All you have to do is have nice clothes to
make a decent impression, a home address and some way to be reached in tight
situations, and a way of getting to work in the morning or night--whichever
the case may be. That's it. And I, for one, have reached a solution to this
First of all, most homeless people spend their days hunting through trash
cans and dumpsters for a piece of sustenance or at least something of value.
If they're not doing that, they're begging for spare change on street
corners. Eventually, one would think that they should be able to afford a
couple of respectable suits or other outfits to wear while applying and even
working for this job of theirs. All they have to do is poke around a little
longer or beg a little more, and that job would be theirs to enjoy. Keeping
these articles of clothing clean would be difficult, but manageable. If you
can't afford a coin operated laundromat (I'm sure there'd be plenty of left
over change from begging), just find some large, clean puddle of water in the
street to wash things in. As for cleanliness, I'm sure people throw away left
over deodorant or antiperspirant, soap, and other such toiletries to where you
can care of the bathing problem. You don't need to clean your hair, in fact,
doing so would rid yourself of the natural oils that build up over time and
actually hold your hair style in place.
Second, with all the left over money and such, they could go to one of
those Mailbox Etcetera stores and buy themselves a mailing address. That just
means they'll have to cope with eating only what they find in the garbage, and
not spending any of that extra cash on that frivolous fast food, or that
healthy vegetable stuff. Suppose they absolutely need a phone number also.
What's stopping any of these people from sleeping close to a pay phone? Just
record the number on the back of your hand (unless you have some nice paper
on you) before you head out to the job interview. And if you really want to
impress the boss, give him the number of the pay phone nearest your favorite
begging corner or alley, just in case they can't get a hold of you at the
first number. None would be the wiser.
As for the commuting, all one would have to do is make sure the pay phone
isn't too far from business. Better yet, sleep in front of the business, near
a pay phone, so you can also respond to any requests promptly and efficiently.
It would also give you much more time to sleep while waiting for that first
paycheck. Now that you must take care of the job and the finding food and
drink in the same twenty-four hour time period, you need all the sleep you can
get. Having to commute through miles of busy sidewalk would make you wish you
hadn't opted for a home away from work. All this being on-time and showing up
so early would be sure impress the boss, especially if he already wasn't
impressed with your feat of scrounging up the resources to hold this special
Now if all this doesn't impress your supervisor, I don't know what will.
I know I'd be impressed after learning the amount of time this homeless person
took just to get a reasonable outfit to show up to work with, the hours of
begging just to get bus fare to another part of the city, and the humility
endured to actually work up the nerve to ask someone fortunate enough to have
some spare change in their pocket if they can spare some so that person can
get a bite too eat. By now I would hope that any thought that I've been
serious about any if these aforementioned ideas has vanished: this is a
satire. I'm not sticking up for every single homeless person on the face of
the planet, for I know there are quite a few willing to spend any available
penny to get that next crack rock to smoke or that last fifth of whiskey to
drink. The thing is, there are a lot of people and even families willing to
work for less than minimum wage if someone were to just give them a chance.
But most of us look away in shame and ignore the person offering to wash our
windshield for any spare change we may have. I think scholarship programs
need to be started to help these people. Not a lottery where any crack fiend
off the street can get the opportunity to work, but actual screening and
testing to try to see just who is willing to take that extra step out of the
pit. This is a problem that cannot be ignored any longer.