Originally this was titled, “Color Me Frustrated”. Hubby’s got a horrible ear infection. Mom is doing that annoying tango with the doctor where they do lab work, wait 10 days to tell you the Doc needs to talk to you about your lab work, but they can’t see you for another 10 days. And the dog needs a bath. With LOTS of soap. And maybe some mouthwash.
My original frustration was courtesy of the American government…and TIME magazine. Oh, it wasn’t TIME's fault for reporting the truth. But that political truth clashed with my own government reality of going nowhere fast.
Short version. (Because you don’t want to get me started. I like you people.) As a non-profit charity, we filed for tax exempt status. Apparently people with “big” money like making contributions they can write off. People like me, with considerably less money, don't require a receipt. We sent in the paperwork, enclosed the $850 fee and waited 90 days for the IRS to make a determination. There are 4 levels of determination,from “Here you go, good luck!” to “Oh boy, do YOU have a problem!” The word “approximately” does appear in front of 90 days. You guessed it. 90 days have come and gone. Nothing.
They did, however, cash our check within 7 days of me writing it.
My frustration over a government which has our money while we have nothing to show for it has grown. Our “official” letter, which came a week after the check cashing, explained the 90 day wait period. It bears no resemblance to the explanation on their website. Kindly pray we aren't classified Level 4. They assign an agent to "help" those people. They're currently assigning agents for paperwork submitted in November 2011. Yes, 2011.
Since what I wanted wasn’t in the mail, I tried to get my mind off things by paging through the new TIME magazine. I read half an article before disgustedly dropping the magazine into the reading basket. Oh, alright. I SLUNG it. With gusto.
TIME’s contribution to my mood was the fact Obama and Romney will spend close to $2.2 BILLION dollars on their campaigns. Not to aid Americans or encourage us to hang tough together. Nope. Money to point fingers and bad mouth one another. Once again well meaning Americans are funding the world’s most expensive mud slinging contest. Personally I think if politicians are so fond of dirt, they should forgo PAC money and just mud wrestle each other on Pay Per View.
Just think how many soldiers we could help with even a sliver of that! My frustration grew at the Catch 22 of it all. Potential donors want to help, but they also want a tax write off. We could use their help, but we’re hogtied by government regulations bringing us to a standstill. We’re working to help heal soldiers whose employer sent them into harm’s way, then appeared annoyed when some of them came back injured. If we had a national attic, I fear that’s where those soldiers would be sequestered. Hidden and forgotten…while the moneyed masses secretly film candidates they don’t like.
Honestly, it all seems so…childish.
Which is why I entered Monday morning without my happy face. Frustrated and slightly depressed…yet too stubborn to actually give up. Angrily I wondered when people had stopped caring about each other simply because it was the right thing to do? Had money and power seduced people into becoming self centered and socially blind?
Today an Inmate helped me see that’s not true.
Yes, inmate. Prisoner. Individual housed by court order at the “County Hilton” who’s allowed out daily for supervised Work Release as cheap labor for my employer. Most are polite, if standoffish. Can’t blame them. I love my senior citizens, but it took me years to convince them that you can’t walk up to an Inmate and begin the conversation with, “So, what did you do?”
Having been in our “temporary” home for almost a year now, we’ve seen a parade of Inmates come and go. Most were silent shadows in the background emptying trashcans or mopping. Few uttered more than a word or two, others simply treated us as nonexistent. But H. and D. are different. They’re polite and treat the seniors like celebrities. H. whistles all the time, singing out, “Good morning!” With feeling.
This morning as I mentally mumbled about the widening great divide between the Haves and the Have-Nots, H. said to me, “Sorry I won’t be here for the seniors’ birthday party tomorrow. I couldn’t find the Birthday Banner, so we hope this is okay.”
I walked into the dining room to discover that our 2 Inmates have turned that drab, high school cafeteria of my youth into tables set with party color. See for yourself.
H. is missing the party because tomorrow he gets released. He’s actually a little bummed that he won't get to see the seniors' smile and giggle over the decorations he's left behind. Before I could even say thanks, D. offered, “We’ve been talking. We’ve watched how you are with these old people. And you’re good with them. Good to them. That’s a special talent. The way you work with them…that just takes a special person.”
I always saw it as just doing my job.
Sometimes we forget the world is watching. Sometimes I wonder if I'm accomplishing my goal to do the right thing, for the right reason. Hey, it’s the way I’m wired. Being charitable is in my DNA. Pushing myself to take the high road is harder. And it can be a lonely road. But one thing you don't find there is politicians...and mud.