A Whipped Puppy, Out in the Cold

Sad, lonely, beaten down, hungry. And no one cares.

That’s how I felt after watching the State of the Union message Monday and then the Republican debates Wednesday night on CNN. Politicians — hot air, all of them, blowing words, puffing their own glories.

The visual of a DIVIDED house lingers, slapping against my face like loose shutters on a rickety house in a bitterly cold windstorm. One side blowing one way, one going the other, both sides banging against the house, bruising it, knocking holes in it, damaging it. With all the banging going on, I clearly got the message that neither side cares about me and how I feel.

“You and I interact with people all day,” I said to my husband. “Business associates, customers, friends, neighbors, volunteers, the clerks at the grocery store, the bookseller at Barnes & Noble, the man at the doughnut shop. We don’t know whether they are Republican or Democrat. We just know that we are all Americans. We’re in the same boat. We’re all facing the same problems and running up against the same brick walls.”

Too bad our country’s leaders don’t understand that.

I’m sick of the spin and slurs and insults and empty promises. And when it comes to the issues, I’d like real solutions that help real American common working citizens.

I can only speak of problems I know firsthand.

First off, I know a man who comes to a monthly writers’ group that I am involved with. He’s an educated man, from up north, moved to Tennessee and got a job on a dairy farm to use his degree in animal husbandry. After Hurricane Katrina his son talked him into going to Louisiana to rebuild houses, which he did for a year. When he returned, he had an idea of starting his own construction business. Because it was hard to get off the ground, a friend recommended him to the owner of a local construction company, so he could have an income while he worked toward his own dream. The owner asked, “Is he white?” The answer was yes. “Well, I don’t like to hire white men,” the owner said. “They’re greedy. They just want to earn money.” Translated, I think that means he has to pay them more than $3 an hour, and he can get cheaper labor.

You know where this is going without me saying another word. Illegal immigrants.

A while back, I had to get a tetanus shot at the county health department, because my doctor didn’t have the vaccine in stock. I was the only one there who didn’t speak Spanish. Even the signs were foreign. I took off from work to go sit and wait my turn among people who were obviously not working. After I got my shot, the lady at the check-out desk said sarcastically, “Do you plan to pay for this?” “Do I have a choice?” I asked in the same vein. She swooshed her arm toward the waiting room and said, “They don’t pay.”

I pay $309.25 a month for health insurance, and then when I have a procedure — for example, a colonoscopy, as I did last month — I pay co-insurance — for that procedure, an additional five hundred. On top of that, I must pay taxes to cover the health care of illegal immigrants — people who broke the law to get here to live free. Only there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Somebody has to pay.

I got stuck alright.

Turning the other cheek, I have a young cousin who lives in a rural area of a southern state. She took college courses to train for a job in medical transcription so she could earn four times minimum wage. She has worked for the same company for ten years, and now she is being phased out. Why? Because they are sending her job to India. My cousin is a thirty-five-year-old single mom supporting two children, now starting over, looking for something she can do in America to earn a living.

I suggest a funeral home. The one thing they can’t do over there is bury our dead.

But they can bury us.

Yeah, I feel like a whimpering, whipped puppy, longing for a new day, but knowing in all likelihood I will never see beyond the bars of this cage.

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2 Comments on “A Whipped Puppy, Out in the Cold”

  1. Aforementioned Husband says:

    Very powerful. I wish the Presidential candidates could see, read, and understand this.

  2. NeilO says:

    You captured the feelings of most of us everyday folks, at least the ones with a lick of sense. It is frustrating to see the country come to this, while we seem to be able to not do much about it. Don’t know if it’d be possible, but it would be interesting if you could email that piece to all the presidential contenders, and see 1) if you get a response, and 2) from whom and what it said.


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