Thursday, October 8, 2009

Toys on the Streets

Here's a stirring indicator of socioeconomic forces in my community: homeless stuffed toys.

I was reading about this earlier this week, a financial pandemic spreading throughout the eastern seaboard. We're reading about massive layoffs and downsizing but people fail to factor in the "hidden costs" of this disaster. When the breadwinner(s) of the nuclear family unit abruptly lose their income-generating power, the microcosm of interdependency they've built up begins to corrode. The local community can no longer count on them for sustainable revenue. Parents can no longer afford health insurance for their families, and it becomes harder to stretch the dollar for grocery bills and other necessities.

Perhaps saddest of all, the economic crunch means children can no longer pay attention to their beloved toys. The fluffy rabbit on the left was busing into Downtown yesterday to apply at a couple temp agencies but he didn't think his prospects were good. "I haven't been working on my marketable skills," he confessed, his fur still damp from his shower. "My typing speed is, like, 25 wpm. I don't know the Microsoft suite at all. I found an old Ubuntu CD but I don't think it'll do me much good." I asked him about his personal strengths. "Jeez... looking cute? Looking innocent? I don't know. I'm a great listener, and I'm highly absorbent."

The bear (right) didn't have much to say. No plans, no idea where his next cuddle was coming from. He asked if I wanted to buy a bus transfer for a buck, then called me something obscene when I said I had a Go-To card. When I threatened to report him to the cops for being a public nuisance, he only looked away and started to sob. It's hard to want to be sympathetic on account of his behavior, but really, he's just a victim like so many others. He's only lashing out in response to the circumstances, like a washing machine of his former life, into which he has recently been thrust.

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