Friday, July 22, 2011

John Fell Through the Cracks. By Geniusofdespair

Martin Luther King had a dream...but this wasn't it.
The handyman John at my condo is a warm and friendly guy, with a big belly and a big smile. He is in his late 40's and we all consider him to be a good worker. He works part-time because that is all we need but he wants more hours desperately. He asks for them constantly. He was hired with the promise of more. John has no car and takes 3 buses to get here. He makes $15 an hour and we pay for his bus fare. John grew up in rural Mississippi and appears to have had little formal education.

Ten days ago he almost had a heart attack. They say it was averted by all the aspirins he was taking for his headaches. John was in the hospital for over a week, still he came into work yesterday...the day after he got out. They sent him home. He talked to one of the neighbors before he left. He said he had 7 prescriptions and no money to pay for them. We collected from the neighbors and then drove him down to Walgreen's and entered him in a limited income prescription program. He didn't know how to ask for it. While waiting for the drugs I gave him a lecture about sodium, his doctor told him to avoid salt. He looked at me blankly. It took me a while to realize that he didn't know that sodium meant salt. I showed him product labels. Could he read? I wasn't sure. I asked him his favorite foods. Barbecued Potato chips and Milk Chocolate was the answer. I showed him the panels on these items and the sodium contents. I bought him pretzels without salt, sugarless milk and semi sweet chocolate (told him to melt the two together in the microwave) and a salt substitute seasoning to sprinkle on fish and chicken. He had no idea how to interpret the panels on the food labels. What chance would he have trying to eat more healthy? I predict little. The sweetened oatmeal he liked so much was loaded with sugar and salt. The soups he fancied were highly salted. Poor John.
Now he might not be able to work as he has a faulty heart valve. What will become of him? Smiling he said "The Lord will provide."

John and his family, from North Miami, are destined for welfare as his health deteriorates because he has nothing to offer in the job market except the strength of his body. I am not optimistic for him.

If you are one of the people who is apt to call welfare recipients moochers I hope you will be reminded of this story of a man who really tries, who begs for more work, who takes 3 buses for a 5 hour a day job for which he takes home about $60 a day, or less than $15,000 a year. There is no pension or health insurance for him but plenty of medical expense because no one ever bothered to teach him what to eat.

When I hear people complain about their circumstances, I will similarly think of John who fell through the educational cracks, the job market cracks and our health system cracks. What chance does he have? God, as he said, is his only hope.

(Photo illustrations do not depict the real John)

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

We don't realize how lucky we are. Thanks for reminding me this morning.

Anonymous said...

Why can't you give him more work?

Geniusofdespair said...

Because our condo has a lot of infrastructure costs these past two years, painting, paving, etc.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Genius for sharing this story of a wonderful person. Just trying to take care of his family.Now is the time for all churches to develop a nutrition program, jobs programs and health service program to help the less fortunate in our neighborhood. I have notice that in the African America neighborhood the church is the center of activity. Any profession you name doctors, pharmacists, teachers, waste management workers, secretaries etc are in the community. Ban together and start helping the community as a consortium of helpers..We all must do better to make sure you survive in these critical times. I have ask doctors to please treat my friends who have lost their job and none of them said no. The office visit in one case was 15 dollars in another case it was free. Also veterans need to go to the VA hospital its Free. Oh! the drugstores will even help. Just Ask.
Again, Thank you Genius for sharing.

Anonymous said...

There are programs there, but they take an advocate to find them most of the time. As a social worker I will tell you that our resource pool is shrinking and we often tap into our own paychecks to cover emergency costs for our clients.

The food banks such as the one in homestead, was totally wiped out by Scott last month. That agency helped other community groups make sure they had access to food.

The MD county extension office has nutrition classes, but that agency was just wiped out in Gimenez's budget, along with other programs that are community support oriented.

The Miami-Dade library system hosts reading classessnfor adults...those programs will be gone too.

So, the fact is, we have to give more of our self as a community and be kind just as Genius did with the neighbors. I will email you and send you a little something for his family.

mutantsupermodel.com said...

This is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of in my last post (http://mutantsupermodel.com/2011/07/21/reminder-theyre-human-beings-too/). The assumptions that people who receive benefits are mostly garbage are wrong and hurtful to those who need it and they're made by ignorant people who've never dealt with true tragedy.

Geniusofdespair said...

Thanks Social Worker. And Mutant Super Model for your post which I just read

Anonymous said...

We are all paying his hospital bills.

Norm said...

Everyone is complaining about Obama's health plan. Did they ever think they were going to absorb more cost without the plan? The uninsured are killing us all. This guy probably had about $25,000 in medical expenses in a week and he will probably be back in the hospital in the not distance future. We all pay that cost. If people would just do the math they wouldn't be against the health care bill.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Ron Book will read your story and get some money from the legislature for himself in the name of your handyman.

Anonymous said...

If someone really needs help, they should be able to get the help they need, However, how many people are going to jackson for example for free medical care only because they dont want to pay for medical insurance. Hell, I dont want to pay for mine but I dont depend on the government for me or my family I pay my own way and its not easy, The question that nobody wants to answer is how long do we tax payers have to provide medical care/help from birth to death on our dime not theirs? I as a tax payer am sick of paying my fair share of taxes and watching it spent on individuals who work the system. Clean up these entitlement programs then maybe all the real needy folks can then get the medical help they need, once the crooks are arrested. Everybody has a sad story to tell but until we clean out the blood suckers from the goverment tit they will never be enough for the real people who need it. Just think how much money could be saved and used for honest people if we just cleaned up medicare fraud here in dade county only we would save millions of dollars. But I guess it better for a large group of citizens who continue to receive medicare fraud kick backs of about $1000.00 each month and the owners of these medicare medical offices pay the monthly fraud kickbacks and continue stealing/billing millions of dollars each month and we the tax payers get screwed again. The real people who need help today is all of us in the middle class as we continue to pay the largest amount of tax dollars that go into the treasury and have nothing to show for it. We help everybody with our tax dollars and the government wants more taxes to help the needy they say, who do you think will pay those new taxes....YOU & ME.

Geniusofdespair said...

Are you one of the people who complains about the Health Care Bill? That would get some of the blood suckers off your back you know...

Anonymous said...

Thank you g.o.d. for sharing this story. I was recently on the phone with you bitching about my problems. I really needed this dose of perspective. I should count blessings and remember I live a privileged life. Do you think if you did a follow-up, your blog could raise some money for his family? I'll make a pledge if you will challenge your readers. We should all pay it forward...

Geniusofdespair said...

Well I know you are not in my family here in Florida because they never call me. I don't recall anyone bitching to me...maybe I zoned out on you. Hey wait a minute, is this Natacha?

Anonymous said...

God bless John. There are a lot of stories like this. Humble hands that are willing to work.

Anonymous said...

Obama care is nothing more than taxing the middle class for the benfit of the growing class of citizens who want the government to take care of then from birth to death. Also, Obama care creates a big voter base for the left which they love . Look around the world as see what countries provide everything for its citizens and see how they are doing. Why do people from Canada come to the US for medical care, because their government medical system is broken, same as in Europe. As a nation our government can not solve everybody's problems. This nation was not established to provide everything that is needed to live. This nation offers freedom and the ability to make a living in a safe and secure nation, beside other rights. That my friends is the American way that has proven to be the best in the world. Remeber, we have no American citizens getting on rafts or planes and ships to flee to a better place, because this is the best country in the world. People like you and me are the ones who made America the best along with our dead American service members who gave it all for you and me to be able to live like we do.I have strong views and you also have different strong views that you are entitled to have. However, how do you guys and me with my guys work this out. I bet if we could forgot for a brief time that Im on the right and your on the left we could get most of our problems fixed real fast. I say lets try because I fear time is runnibg out on all of us.

Geniusofdespair said...

You are paying for all the uninsured right now. Do you not get that?

Anonymous said...

GOD, I try to explain this to people all the time but they just don't get it.

I have health insurance. So here's the scenario. Let's say I break my leg and go to the hospital. I will receive a bill for services rendered and for all the supplies they used in treating my injury. My insurance company will pay the bill, minus the deductible. On the bill will be things like bandages. The cost of the bandages will seem exorbitant. But it is all for good reason.

Just like every other business, hospitals cannot continually operate without making a little bit of money. Hospitals provide care to many indigent patients who will never pay their bill. So when those that have the ability to pay show up at the door, they pay $5 for a band-aid that would otherwise cost a quarter at CVS. Why? Because those that can pay are paying for all the other band-aids dispensed to those who cannot pay.

Geniusofdespair said...

Until John pays for health insurance (yes at a subsidized rate) you are paying for him. Everyone has insurance that is the goal.

milly said...

If the county could hire these humble people full time and just offer them healthcare benefits, 5 sick days yearly and 2 weeks vacation time (not cummulative), we can make a lot of them happier, healthier and more productive citizens, while saving the taxpayers a lot of money!

Anonymous said...

There are thousands of Johns out there not only in Miami-Dade County but all around the state. Travel around the state and look around. There are many people living in make shift camps in the woods and they beg for food from people nearby. They approach you in the parking lots of grocery stores asking for food. A man and his wife approached me to buy bread for them as I went in the store. There are former middle class people who are going hungry. In my lifetime, I have never seen anything like this. There are people who will do almost any job, so they can feed their families. If you have a lot, may be you don't understand. Look around they are all over the place.

Anonymous said...

There are 27,000 people working for Miami-Dade County at an average cost to the taxpayers of $100,000 each. That is for their salary, benefits, health insurance, pensions, take-Home vehicles.

If each employee got what they deserve which is $50,000 each, the County would be better off and there would be more money to educate people like John.