Poverty knocks

There are days that seem to conspire to make you remember how lucky you are.  Today I got a letter from my health insurance.  I’ve got Cobra and until this month the government had been subsidizing my payments. Today I found out that the subsidy has ended and my bill’s gone from $160 to $445.  I am trying to swing it as a freelance landscape architect/artist/writer and don’t have a steady income.

When I got off the phone with the company I had my standard stressed out neck ache.  I spent the next few hours googling alternatives with no luck.  Health insurance is just expensive.

I took a break from the computer to work on some Christmas projects and had just started silk screening when the door bell rang.  There was a man on the porch asking for work.  he had no front teeth and a scruffy look but he was willing to do anything- clean the gutters, rake leaves- to get a few bucks.  It is cold in Nashville tonight, near freezing.  He had on a light jacket.   I’ve never had someone show up on my porch asking for work and my landlord pays someone to do all that work.  As I was telling him this my heart was breaking but I was in slightly panicked and on auto pilot.  No we don’t need help, no I’m sure about that.  He gave me a plaintive look as he asked one last time “Are you sure??  I am just trying to do this the honest way.”  Again I said no and turned to go back into my warm house where my fancy laptop was playing country music and my silk screen project awaited me.

Immediately I was sorry I hadn’t come up with some small job for him.  Just a little raking so that I could pay him $5 and we could both have felt like we’d done something to help.   Instead I roamed around the house staring at all our stuff and feeling horrible.  We see poverty every day in the city.  Homeless people selling papers, bums on the street with a cup of change but it is profoundly different when someone is standing on your porch asking for help.  I am sorry that I didn’t think faster.

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