Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Eye Opening Day

Some days are just meant to happen. Not in a Calvinistic pre-determination BS sort of way, but one where you make decisions that at first seem a little out of place or out of your comfort zone, but then you grown because of it. This morning I woke up cold because it was 32 degrees outside, went to my computer and figured, "Lets see what movies are playing" Wanting to see Capitalism: A Love Story I found it playing, at a theater 45 minutes away, at 10:15. All of which seemed like, why would I want to do that? But I decided to get ready and go for the early showing.

I won't write my review for Capitalism here, but let me just say these few words about it. This is by far one of the most important films of the decade. Regardless of your political beliefs, religious beliefs, economic beliefs, and any other dogma which has been fed to you; you will come out of this movie mad and ready to see things changed. I looked at the world from a little better of a perspective that moment actually being able to synthesize the message which was portrayed in the film.

After the movie I stopped to pick up some supplies for my classroom since some punk kid stole all of my grading pens. After that I went to Barnes and Noble since it is Teacher Appreciation Week and they were having a huge sale for educators. Couldn't find anything I really cared for, but mostly stuff I already own. However I did run into someone I knew from back home who wanted me to come speak to a couple of her students about the Peace Corps. She knew I was going in and really wanted someone to speak to these students about the program and what to expect. She teaches at an alternative school where many of these students have little or no opportunity to leave where the come from and any chance I could have at helping these students along would be well worth it.

I decided then to go to the mall for some lunch and outside of the mall was a homeless man asking for some change. I asked him if he wanted to get some food and out of the cold. He said yes and as we were entering a mall security guard stopped him and said he cannot loiter inside the mall. I told the cop we were going to get some food and he is not loitering if he is a patron if the mall. He stepped aside and we went to Panera to eat. We got out food and I had one of the greatest conversations in my life. Found out this man's name was Dave, lost his job 2 years ago and had been searching ever since. He lost his home in the housing crisis, and his wife left him and took the kids. I talked to him about what I was doing with my life and what I would be doing in the future. That was about it for me, but I let him talk and after a couple cups of coffee and him telling me stories about his life since he lost his job I could see it was taking its toll.

I could see in Dave's eyes something I had never really seen before, total hopelessness. To this man America had failed him. He went to work everyday for 25 years at a plant only to be laid off because the board of directors weren't making enough money in his eyes. He tried and tried to find a job to sustain his family and mortgage but eventually that was a futile effort because in October of last year, the last plank in the floor supporting he and his family was taken out beneath him and his world crashed. I can never know that feeling but today I came the closest I have ever been to feeling that same mindset of total loss. I will never forget today's lunch by the window where I learned more about the area that I live in than from anything I have experienced in my life to this date. Most importantly, I will never forget Dave and what he taught me today.

I woke up today feeling cold and wanting to stay shut in all day and just watch a couple movies and finish up some school work. Instead I decided to go to that early showing and because of that I had probably one of the most educational days of my life. If I wasn't at the right place at the right time, I may have never ran into that person from my hometown, I would have never had the possibility of going to that school and hopefully getting those two girls on the right path to serve in the Peace Corps. And if I did not decided to go to lunch up in Joliet and just go home and eat, I would have never met Dave and heard the story of someone who lost it all. Hopefully to him today meant a tenth of what it meant to me because maybe that could give him just a little bit more hope to keep fighting and trying to find work.

When I left Panera today and Dave stood outside the door with his cup of coffee, I shook his hand and told him "Just go for whatever it is you want, because you're the only one who can do it". I don't know whether or not he took to heart what I had said, but I hope he is willing to take things into his own hands and get back the life he, and every person in the world, deserves.

The views and opinions expressed in this post constitute the opinion of the author alone and do not necessarily express the view of the ISU College Democrats, its executive board, and/or any other organization members.