One of my dearest, closest friends (let’s call him Steve) works for a millionaire who gave his employees a Christmas gift of a Love Bottle. My friend Steve was devastated. He’s worked just over a year for this guy, working long hours but earning a low salary in a job in which he can progress.
It’s an empty milk bottle with a lid and one of those rubber bracelets charities are so fond of, dangling around the neck. A small card attached read that a donation had been made in Steve’s name to a charity in Haiti that provides food for hungry people.
That’s nice. But there are hungry people right here in the US.
Steve being one of them. Forget Haiti. Forget Katrina.
There are people secretly starving all over our country not from natural disasters, but man-made ones.
People like Steve are the secret victims. His boss has no way of knowing that Steve is struggling to pay his bills. So much so that he has spent the last three weeks eating hot dogs and buns purchased at the 99 Cent Store. Three times a day.
“I have to tell you, I didn’t mind what I was eating. I liked the hot dogs,” Steve told me when I visited him in the hospital yesterday.
“But the doctors here told me that hot dogs have such high sodium it sent my organs and blood sugar reeling. I was constipated, but I was still hungry. Then I started to feel really, really sick one day. That was the day I collapsed.”
“I fed my cat every day,” he said with pride. “I fed her before I even fed myself.”
Steve is not the only person I know living this way. We have another mutual friend who confessed he was eating Top Ramen every day and became so sick his wife had him hospitalized. Both of these men are good, decent, hard-working individuals with JOBS!
In both cases, they’ve had to take severe pay cuts to stay employed. Their income decreased, their work load and financial responsibilities have not.
When Steve became ill, many of his friends came forward with similar stories. Steve and I both lived on pita bread and salad for months until I swallowed a bit of crushed glass one time. Steve hasn’t bought bagged lettuce since. Besides, he confessed, when he purchased his hot dogs, there were more dogs in the bag than there was lettuce in the lettuce bag.
He was trying to shop smart and nearly died.
Give them a gift card or gift certificate instead. Something legitimately useful.
“I got an empty bottle for Christmas,” he said. “That’s the story of my life.”