Red, White, and Screwed?

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I’ve observed this fellow around town (pictured) over the past few years waving American flags in bitter snow storms, driving rain, and hot, muggy afternoons as cars streamed by causing his flags to flap as he sat smiling.  It was just this past week I finally found myself by his small selling station and took the opportunity to chat.

He was sitting outside my bank fanning himself with his hat as I made a withdrawal and spontaneously decided to walk over and buy a flag. I didn’t ask, but I’m pretty sure he’s a vet, and I think there might be a few additional challenges for him outside of working on the street. It was clear from the start he’s extremely patriotic and very proud to be paying all his daily living expenses in spite of being homeless. The hats he sells are negotiated at a lower rate from local thrift shops, and he orders the flags himself in three sizes to fit his mobile cart he rolls all over town. He’s happy to place a small paperback he’s written about his life into your hands for $12, which to date, has sold some 250 copies. He’s slyly negotiated spots near local cash registers and will give you his pitch right there if you’ll stay long enough to listen. He explained he’s been homeless for several years now, ever since rent increases shot up some 400-500% the last five years making a steady place almost impossible. He also avoids local shelters because meth heads have a knack for stealing while you sleep he explains, and also possess the unnerving habit of behaving erratically during waking hours.

So I asked myself, can we really write Allen off as some sort of loser just because he’s homeless and needs a hand every once in a while to make ends meet? What happened to that sense of human decency we were taught as kids as Congress prepares to cut Meals on Wheels and school lunch programs for tax cuts?

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