CROSSROADS TO SOMEWHERE: A $20 Gesture Isn’t Always a Good Thing

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By W.T. WIMPY HIROTO

During my heyday I seldom carried a wallet. Or credit card.  Always a wad of cash in right front trouser pocket. Sign of a cash-and-carry believer. And gambler. Now that I’m safely ensconced (word for the week: means “settled”) at Keiro Retirement Home, one can go for days without need of money.

When on occasional soirees to the “outside world,” I have to be reminded of the need for ready cash. All too often I forget to cue myself and have to return for necessary legal tender if funds or ID are required or continue forth and hope a cop is not lurking beyond yon stop sign.

On certain days there is a panhandler at the Alvarado offramp  exiting Hollywood Freeway west. If the traffic signal forecasts a stop, I’ll maneuver to the left and empty my change tray or palm him a buck. En route to a recent medical appointment, I had no coin or cash. But need I remind you that CR2S is no ordinary “dohn-koh” dunce.  I have a $20 bill stashed in my glove compartment for emergencies. [Might I interject at this point WTH is a typical Jappo tipper, meaning more than the norm. A Nisei credo was developed in the ’70s-’80s to always treat servers well so the next JA guest would benefit.] But twenty bucks for a panhandler?

I had a problem reaching over so had to unbuckle the seat belt. All the while the traffic light is changing. I finally located the hidden Jackson and became an unexpected benefactor. Meanwhile the driver immediately behind me is honking his horn in understandable impatience. For some inexplicable reason, the hand that gave suddenly turned into a middle finger salute!

Really, folks, I’m not the impatient type or discourteous. Nor prone to reckless abandon. It just, well, just sorta happened. I then gunned through a just-turned-red signal as a safety measure. You see, I’m not very brave. Only problem was I could see in my rear-view mirror that he, too, had jumped the signal and w.a.s.c.h.a.s.i.n.g.m.e.

I guess I could embellish the story with a bit more melodrama. My cane was handy, which was fortuitous, since I can’t run as fast as Flash Gordon, let alone Dee. With a half-block head start, I slipped into my medical building parking structure undetected [sigh]and on time for my appointment. [The nurse noted a higher than normal BP reading. “Not to worry,” I assured her, “it’ll go down.”]

One of the first children’s rhymes I remember learning is the “Sticks & Stones” advisory. I say so without much conviction because one of my first childhood realizations was that words did do harm and hurt! So you were advised to turn the other cheek, love thine enemies and all that gracious, nonviolent jazz. I think about this stuff when listening to the current torrent of political venting, both donkey and elephant.

Seeking an upper hand to the public’s heart, the constant drumbeat is about the poor, the disabled and the aged and how they must be cared for at all cost (but keep your compassionate and wizened paws off the Pentagon budget!).

It goes without saying, but should be mentioned every now and again, that CR2S is truly considerate of the poor and disabled [see $20 story above]. They need help more than oil, pharmaceutical or agricultural interests. No argument. Which is why I can’t quite understand why “The Aged” always rounds out the needy triumvirate.

Being old doesn’t automatically mean poor and disabled. I mean, shoot, we’ve certainly seen better days (and nights) and I have no objection to “early bird specials” or senior discounts. Despite the potency of AARP and unions, why shouldn’t retirement qualification be raised to 68? Pensions revised? Double-dipping restricted? Triple-dipping outlawed? [Yeah, you guessed right: CR2S worked 27½ years at a highly successful non-profit and was rewarded with a cement parachute. Yet still managed to achieve a middle position in the infamous 99% category through hard work, few vacations, living in ELA, driving a Toyota and most significant, an unselfish, dedicated spouse.]

I also have an opinion about student loans. They (federal/private) made them too easy for too many too often. Why not a year of volunteer work or armed service commitment instead of going into debt?

Okay. Even though a lover of horses, I’ll now dismount my high one.

W.T. Wimpy Hiroto can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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