By Don Rice
I’d like to thank Tracy Renee Jones for inspiring me to write this rant. When I first came to this blog, I loved it; it was a safe space to express then, and it still is now. But something seemed to change, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Tracy did it for me here. Tracy did a bang-up job there, and much of her post spoke to me. But the part that really did it for me was this: “Of course, the happy and shiny people have a right to be fabulous, but how does their happy and shiny relate to the realities of your own life?” That’s beautiful, Tracy! There appears to me to be a certain condescension toward people who don’t have the material well-being, who don’t have the college degrees and high-paying careers. People like me. I’m a working man who can’t work. I love physical work, like my last job in a sheet metal plant where I was the Union steward. I didn’t make a lot of money, but I was satisfied with the work and I managed to stay on top of the bills and even splurge every now and again. But that all changed when my foot went bad. So to keep from going totally stir-crazy, I began to write. I blog occasionally, about a variety of topics. One was published here on BB&W. I recently finished a short story that was published here first. I have a couple others I’m working on. And there’s the book I’m writing, which was also excerpted here.
I thank Chris and the moderators here for welcoming me and posting my writing. I thank all of you whom I’ve conversed with here as well. I really appreciate all of it, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful. Yet I have to say my piece, and damn the consequences. So here goes. Like I said, I can’t work any more. I’ve been fighting for two years with Social Security for disability and living in my Cosmic (“spiritual”) sisters’ house with her man friend and her chilldren. I can’t contribute anything to the bills, and I feel like crap as a result. But I refuse to give up. I *will* come back from the edge of this abyss, come hell or high water. Yet people like me, struggling to survive, are subtly (and often not so subtly) put down. That is why I’ve felt somewhat uncomfortable here lately. All the talk of vetting potential suitors and mates for college degrees and great-paying careers, reasonable as it may be, is not exactly heartening for me, and I suspect for others who read this blog but rarely or never contribute. Several of you have liked my writing here enough to comment on it, or at least click the “like” button. I appreciate that very much. And I’m sure there are others who liked my work but never even clicked the button. No problem. It’s not really about me anyway. It’s about people, and they way we look at them. Who remembers Dr. King saying that no matter what you work at, even if you’re a garbage collector, be the best you can be at it. That’s what I try to do. And eventually it will dig me out of the hole I’m in. But in the meantime, I am one of those people who would be cast aside in that vetting process that seems so blythely embraced here. There’s an old song from the early 1960’s, by a group called the Beatles: “Money Can’t Buy Me Love”. While you’re talking about vetting, remember the truth in that song title.