Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Haves and The Have Nots

This evening Hubby provided us with a fabulous dinner. As head chef, he's responsible for the only really decent meals we eat at home and lately we've been picking around at the olds and ends of left overs or just heating up canned soup. This morning we got up to our first hard freeze, with a wind chill of 15 degrees, and the frigid air brought out the need in Hubby to provide us with hearty fare. We had huge T-bone steaks, fresh mashed sweet potatoes, homemade biscuits covered in sausage gravy, and a fresh lettuce salad. The steaks themselves must have set him back $15. The meal was fit for a queen and all four of us loved every mouthful. The boys were sure happy to have the T-bones when we were done.

Yet just this morning, with the temps well below freezing and the wind whistling, metal detector duty at my high school was a heavy chore. I stood at the near end of the table closest to the front door and every time it opened, the wind chilled me. I had dressed appropriately -- heavy fleece shirt, winter-weight slacks -- and I wasn't really suffering, just feeling a bit chilly.

Through the door came a young man dressed in a light tee shirt and a pair of jeans -- and that was all, except for his back pack. As I fumbled through his pack, I smiled at him and said, "You're going to have to get that coat out and wear it tomorrow . . .it's too cold now to go without." And he replied, with a look of defiance, "I don't have a coat."

The kid charged through the metal detector, with me standing slack jawed. I hollered at him to the other end of the table as he retrieved his bag, "We can fix that if you want." He shook his head and vanished into the school.

Fully 10% of our boys came to school this morning with no coats. Some had on heavier shirts, but many were like the first guy: short sleeved tees and light weight jeans. They were blue with cold but the were at school. Most has back packs stuffed with books and folders.

How many actually didn't have a coat at home? I don't know, but I imagine probably most of them. And we expected them to read Shakespeare and study the Boxer Rebellion and do equations and learn anatomy, when, at least some of them, don't have warm clothing, enough food, or heat in their homes.

Tonight in my toasty warm house I ate T-bone. Some of my kids huddled in dark rooms with empty bellies trying to stay warm.

This can be a cruel world when you're without.

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