Voices From Street Corners (Vol.13)

Throughout the past few weeks, I have been “on the road” and looking to check on the voices I have had the pleasure and good fortune to meet. Surprisingly enough, I had not seen them for the longest time. As I thought about them, I hope they were able to get themselves squared away and put their lives back on track.

As I continued my daily “walk-about” town,  I saw one of the old timers who was on one of the street corners. This was a gentleman who marketed himself as a painter with 40 years of experience and local references. I had seen him before with his Children and his wife accompanying him. I did not have the courage to talk to him to see what had been happening lately.  But, I remember them as keeping faith and being hopeful despite all the odds against them.

I had a chance earlier this week to strike up a conversation with one of the newer ones I had seen here in South County. I began the conversation by asking whether he looked forward to the holidays. His comment to me was, “…it is just another day.” When I talked to him he was at the corner in the rain under an umbrella seeing what he could get. He was having coffee and told me about how he did not want to get wet because he had taken a shower. I asked him about what prompted him to be there. He talked about how he fell through a roof, hurt his back and could not work anymore. I asked him whether he pursued permanent disability through Social Security. He told me that he had fought them for the longest time and basically gave up. I asked him where he stayed.  He noted that he stayed here and there with a bit of hesitation as he concluded his thoughts. I could certainly understand why, but did marvel at how he was able to keep his head up despite it all.

As I walked up to the local Laguna Niguel Post Office, through persistent rain I noticed a young girl with a sign asking for money. I walked up to see why she was out seeking help. She told me she was from Bosnia, pregnant and collecting money to pay her landlady. I tried to find out why she came here, what happened to her husband and what she wanted to do going forward. She hardly spoke any English and was simply persistent in her request to come up with money to pay her landlady. As I was talking to her,  my thoughts drifted off to Washington and the debates. I wondered about the DREAM Act and how it died off. I also wondered about Immigration Reform and the fact that there is no consensus on what to do about it going forward.

Beyond Immigration Reform, there are the looming challenges in 2011. The 111th Congress adjourned on a high note with some rather notable successes. As 2011 nears, I see no visible attempt to help any of those on “Street Corners” and others who seem to have fallen by the wayside.   Although unemployment was extended by 13 weeks, the 99’ers have no other recourse but to basically be on their own. There seems to be a continued wide gap between the true realities as experienced by Main Street vs. what the folks in Washington and in state capitols seem to reflect. I am especially fearful of what will happen to state and municipal finances as 2011 approaches. In our own State, Governor-Elect Brown has been setting the tone–and it is not a pretty.

Despite the continued economic calamity, there are greater challenges around the World. As I write this, there have been two explosions at the Chilean and Swiss Embassies in Rome. The fighting in Afghanistan continues to rage on with no apparent end in site. Although I am fearful, I have no choice but to remain hopeful as 2010 is relegated to the dustbin of history. There is no choice but to hold on:


This is the lesson I took away from all those voices I have had the good fortune to talk to throughout the year. It is that hope that should sustain us all as we embrace the New Year for the sake of our Children.

I look forward to continuing on with this journey and further reflections throughout the new Year. Have a Wonderful, Safe and Joyful Holiday Season!!