"Social Worker Pelts Homeless with Fast Food"

2:53 PM Elizabeth Seckman 33 Comments

Oh ma goodness! I'm writing a post!

It feels good to be back at my keyboard. I'm certain my cat totally thinks I just evicted her from the best seat in the house! Now, let's see if the brain cells can still piece together enough thoughts to call it a post...

A few Sundays ago, I took the time to read the Sunday paper (yes, I still buy one...mostly for the coupons!) I ran across the name of an old friend and it reminded me of the time I threw cheeseburgers at a homeless man.

 Let me explain...

The poster that graced the walls of the YSS training center.
John Moses was my former boss back in the day when I wore the social worker hat.

John is a true believer- a real do-gooder...by nature, thought, and deed. During my days at Youth Services System, several of my "cases" were never technically cases. By that, I mean services were performed based on need, not by what a client could pay. There was the mom who needed drug rehab but didn't qualify for care, so I took her- on the company dime- a hundred miles south to a place with an indigent bed. Same goes for the former client who needed picked up from jail and brought to a homeless shelter...or the pregnant twenty something who needed a place to live, some maternity clothes, and help getting a medical card.

I could go on, but the point is...YSS is the sort of agency that acts on its principles of service to people in need whether there is money to be made or not.

And that brings me back to me throwing cheeseburgers at the homeless man.

My brother worked as a paramedic and his squad was in downtown Wheeling, WV smack dab in a pretty bad neighborhood. When I'd drive down to visit him, there was this homeless guy who would stand on the corner and offer carnations for cash.

Of course, I'd make the trade. Until one day when my brother saw my flowers and flipped out. He gave me the run down..."Harve" (no idea what the homeless man's name was) was a drunk. He would steal flowers from graves and sell them to morons like myself. Then he'd take the money...like my ten bucks...and buy enough booze to OD on. (I guess it's easy for a guy whose liver was as pickled as a set of pig's feet.)

My brother and his fellow ambulance crew gave me a verbal noogie. Then later gave me more than a little hell when Harve went on a bender, had to be taken to the hospital for detox, and puked all over their ambulance.

The crew thanked me...with obvious sarcasm.
photo courtesy of PhotoPin
So, I swore...no more money for Harve. There were shelters in Wheeling and I told him where they were. Not that he cared to go to a shelter. Instead, he'd yell at me when I rolled up to the stop sign. Harve wasn't as friendly when financially cut off.

I started to imagine him becoming irate enough to grab me from my car...and I had my little boys with me.

I also worried that Harve would starve to death. (Cause he always said he needed food money.)

But I had sworn...no more money. So, I couldn't give him cash...couldn't offer counsel.

So one day, I bought him a couple of cheeseburgers. As I rolled up to his corner, I rolled my window down just far enough to toss the burgers out and move on.

When we got to the squad house, my then five-year-old son answers the "how are you bud?" with an innocent, "Good. Mom and I just threw some cheeseburgers at that homeless guy."

I suppose that would be the headline in the paper: "Social Worker Pelts Homeless with Fast Food"

My reasoning wouldn't matter. It'd probably be noted that I nearly put the guy's eye out.

I thought of this when I read the headline, "YSS Gives Shelter to Child Molester" (or something like that)...I cringed.

John Moses

Seems my former boss is still helping people with hard luck. And sometimes the attempt to help another soul comes back to bite you square in the rump. A person comes asking for assistance and the kind heart extends a hand. Then that "poor soul" uses your good for ill and the guy who only meant to help is left holding the bag...and answering reporters' questions.

So while the papers ask, why would John Moses give a child molester a place to stay? I can only answer, sometimes you throw cheeseburgers at homeless people out of the goodness of your heart...out of the hope that the man who extends his hand for help is really wanting to be pulled up...not trying to drag you down.


Want to read the article? YSS Statement Raises Questions

photo credit: wd9hot via photopin cc

33 comments:

  1. At least you didn't throw Milk Duds at him - those things hurt.
    It is sad when you're trying to do a good deed and it turns on you. Your boss was just trying to be a human being and probably had no idea.

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    1. Frozen milk duds count probably count as a weapon!

      Yeah, I'm certain he had no idea. I figure the guy probably had a story about why he didn't have ID or anywhere to go. I mean if you're low enough to hurt a child, a few lies don't make you squirm at all.

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  2. My Mom used to buy coupons good for free cheeseburgers at McDonalds so she could hand them out to the homeless who were begging. Then the homeless people would yell at her for not giving them cash. Yeah. Really.

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    1. Coupons. Excellent idea! Totally not shocked by the yelling. A lot of the homeless are addicts and that's a demon they have to contend with. I don't think it's anything personal.

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  3. Oh geez, as a former social worker myself I hate to see stories like this one about your former boss. It's sad that a good deed can turn into something like this. I thought when I worked in the field that social workers can't win and it still seems that way.

    I have to admit I couldn't wait to read this post when I saw the subject line in my feed LOL!

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    1. Sensational headlines grab people all the time ;)

      Yeah, it is a thankless job and I give credit to people like John who work in the field for twenty plus years and never burn out and never become bitter. I have to admit, I was duped many times and was getting a little cynical when I decided to take a leave of absence.

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  4. I believe in one of my mom's sayings, "No good deed goes unpunished." Yes, we are blessed for helping the poor, etc. but often the world will punish us too. It's two fold, unfortunately.

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  5. I hate the expression, "No good deed goes unpunished" but unfortunately it sometimes proves true. I hate to see good people punished for trying to help the wrong person.

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    1. And bad people can be ruthless liars and swindlers. It's tough.

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  6. It has happened to me, long ago. There is always the risk of finding someone who would try to take advantage of your good heart. And there comes the time when you ask yourself if you should keep doing it. At least I did. Now I still try to help but I just don't help everyone. One must be careful too.

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    1. You do wonder and then you see a guy like the one on tv today who returned all the money. He was homeless and could use the money, but was honest. It's worth being burned by a few to not overlook the good ones who need our kindness.

      At least that's what I tell myself...the good always outweigh the bad.

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  7. I'd take the cheeseburgers!
    I've grown careful as to who I help out - whether that's good, I'm not sure yet. There are too many stories of ppl who use the goodness to their advantage, but I'm afraid that this sometimes makes us oversee the ones who really do need it. The last time I was tricked ($15), I actually felt more sorry for the woman than angry. I can't help but wonder what drove her to be willing to stoop so low.

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    1. Good point. I once had some stuff stolen from my car and I figured someone must have needed a few dollars awfully badly to be willing to risk your soul for them.

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  8. This post so perfectly fits with the picture I have of you - helping people first, considering who they are later.

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    1. Um, would you think differently of me if I confessed I chewed out my son's teacher when she told me she gave him a zero to make an example out of him for the class? Oy. I have my good moments and my bad.

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  9. lol The story turned out differently than the picture I had in my head of you pelting the man w/ cheeseburgers. I hope this one bad egg doesn't deter your friend. the world needs more people like him.

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    1. If John Moses eve lost hope then I would be frightened. I'd venture to say we were headed to hell in that hand basket my grandma warned about!

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  10. That was mighty fine of you to throw the man some burgers! I'm glad it wasn't eggs. That would've been messy! ;)

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    1. Oh my yes! Eggs would have taken on a whole different sort of motive!

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  11. Whoa... quite the post, Liz! You're such a good person. :) Lots to think about here--and although I think it's good to always serve, we need to be wary too in some situations.

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    1. Most definitely need to be smart. There are plenty of really bad people who use our pity against us without feeling an ounce of guilt.

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  12. Wow, you really drew me in with the title of the post and the cheeseburger story was classic. Sorry your ex-boss is being run through the ringer.

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    1. I have no doubt he will survive. If he quit, there'd be no one could fill his shoes. He does way more good than most people ever realize.

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  13. Love the last paragraph. People always wonder whether or not they should help the homeless.

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    1. I still believe in helping, but I try to be smart about it. and sometimes throwing cash at a problem is the worst solution.

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  14. Hi, Elizabeth..

    You just never know... Our intentions are good, but sometimes ... But i know you still have a kind heart. We all do. Perhaps observe a bit before lending a helping hand...

    Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. So true Michael. I have to admit, I am far more wary of every situation. These sort of incidents remind me there is some real nefarious people feigning need.

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  15. Sadly, bad outcomes do happen when people are just trying to be kind.

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    1. It's just in the odds that the more times you help, the better the chance of being duped.

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