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The Deservedly Poor Gimme Pigs

Several years ago, I became friends with “Buddy,” whom I met at a recovery meeting. We shared our experiences, and he had been down on his luck, had no home, and was living off the kindness of friends. However, he appeared to be taking great strides in his road to recovery to get back on his feet. After a couple of months, it became obvious (at least to me) that he was simply a moocher, pure and simple, who merely took advantage of people for a free ride. You know – look up “moocher” in the dictionary and see his picture.

Around that time, I started dating this woman (now my wife) who was looking for a roommate, and thought Buddy would be perfect. I gave her a word of caution based on my experiences with him, but she felt it would work out. Within a couple of months, she told him to get out.

A couple of years passed, and I had long since fallen out of contact with him. Out of the blue, he showed up at my office one day to say “hi.” During our brief visit, we were catching up on what was going on with each other, and he told me he was living on a ranch up north in the mountains. I said that sounded great, and asked him what he was doing, employment and what not. He wasn’t working (no surprise), and said he was on welfare. In listening to him, he was basically playing the system where he was able to continue a life of leisure at other people’s expense. He said he was now back in town because he was determined to re-enroll at the university and finish his degree.

A month or so later, I received a letter in the mail from Buddy at my office. (I realized that his “friendly visit” was probably to confirm that I still worked there and get my address.) It was a form letter that he was apparently sending out to anyone and everyone stating that he has been in recovery, was making progress, and wanted to finish his degree. He said he had exhausted all forms of financial aid, so in order to achieve his goal, he was asking the reader to “invest” in him by making a donation to pay his tuition! Included in the letter was a deposit slip from his bank account. What would we get out of our “investment,” he asked? Why, the pleasure and satisfaction of knowing he succeeded in getting a degree and achieved his goal of becoming a social worker!

I showed the letter to my wife, we got a good laugh out of it, and then I filed it away (you can probably guess where). Now I could look up “nerve” and “gall” in the dictionary and see his picture there too! 0913-12

I recently tried to tell a young woman wearing rose colored glasses that not all poor people are deserving of assistance.   Some people are deservedly poor, i.e. they will not work to improve their situation whereas the deserving poor are those who hustle to find work, keep work and do what is necessary to provide shelter and sustenance for themselves and their family.

{ 52 comments… add one }
  • Lychii September 19, 2012, 11:23 am

    @kingsrings, I don’t think there’s anything shameful at all in receiving unemployment, and even in refusing to look for a new job while on it… as long as you take full responsibility for the consequences.

    Unlike welfare or charity, unemployment is a safety net you’ve earned by paying taxes (at least in my country it’s so), and there’s no shame in using it to whatever extent.

  • mvp September 21, 2012, 5:24 pm

    I too am part of a recovery program and have seen this type of behavior before. It appears that this person is using people, and banking on the generosity of those in recovery. Here is something to think about, continuing to help him may actually hinder him. There is a difference between a hand out and a help out. My fellowship teaches me that we are not bankers, lawyers, or counsellors. While we do help each other with recovery issues, sometimes there is a line. Good to hear that you have drawn the yours here. Further to that, I would suggest that you contact that person and tell him that while you are happy for his recovery, you will not help him financially.

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