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Life isn’t fair?


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Published on: Thursday, September 19, 2013

By Brian J. Karem

One of my bright, alert young sons called me up this morning while I was on deadline trying to produce a newspaper and asked me if I would walk up the street and deposit a check for him in the bank.

He was quite aghast when I said I could not do it and he should’ve got his sorry little rump up out of bed this morning and come into work with me if he wanted it done. This follows after an incident last night when another one of my equally bright and alert young sons asked me to turn around and drive back to work to pick up something for him.

You would think after 20 or so years of the father – that would be me – not engaging in the type of behavior I’ve labeled “indentured servitude” my bright sons would’ve learned if they want something done then they should do it themselves. Dad isn’t jumping.

Alas, and alack, that isn’t the case. They just don’t seem to get it.

I’ve chastised my generation quite a bit for enabling their children and coddling them to the point these perpetual juveniles are still living at home and sponging off their parents until the fat, flaccid children are well into their 20s and 30s. But we haven’t done that.

My mother was of the “18 and out” rule which mean at the age of 18 you were very much on your own. I left at 16 just to be stubborn.

As for my own children, I’ve struggled to give them enough to survive, but actively denied them too much so they get the idea they need to provide for themselves.

I think I’ve failed.

But as I look around, perhaps I’ve got a scapegoat: Montgomery County, the state of Maryland and even the United States.

I won’t make fun of the welfare state, or the sense of entitlement or even the local handouts our county government gives out to practically anyone and everyone of questionable need.

I will simply tell another story. After all, it’s far more fun.

A Rochester-based grocery store chain opened up in Germantown this week while many of the county council set off to visit our sister city in mainland China – please spare me the jokes about the People’s Republic of Montgomery County. I’ve heard them all.

As I walked over to visit this new chain store I noticed a woman outside, standing on the sidewalk who complained about this new grocery store.

“This grocery store doesn’t care about me,” she said.

I was admittedly confused. I was unaware that an inanimate store was capable of caring for anyone, but as she explained it to me the management of the new grocery store doesn’t care about poor people.

I didn’t follow and she said she had gone begging for food and they had turned her down.

“Are you employed?” I asked.

“No,” she told me and I asked why she didn’t just apply for a job at the grocery store. It was new and had just opened. Maybe they’d hire her.

She told me she was homeless, didn’t work and the county took care of her every need. She just wanted free food at the end of the day from the grocery store – but didn’t think a “new and rich” grocery store – or more pointedly its management – would give her anything free.

“Are you physically able to work?” I asked. She seemed fine. Probably in her mid to late 30s, she had no problem walking around. She seemed cogent and reasonably intelligent – and by that I mean she could carry on a conversation.

She informed me she had no physical or mental maladies and then questioned my parentage, my hygiene and accused me of having intimate relations with relatives. She ended our conversation by submitting for my approval the proposition that I should then go and be intimate with myself.

Oddly enough this isn’t too far from the response I got when I suggested to my son he needed to get up early in the morning and take care of his own banking needs.

Nor is it, oddly enough, too far different from the response I got from a ‘Skins fan who suggested the league should go easy on RG III while he continues to battle back from his ACL injury. “Why don’t they just bench him until he’s healthy?” I asked. “He’s not entitled to extra protection.”

That fan is still yelling. So is the homeless lady and so is my son. I’m not listening to any of them.

What I will do is respond to them the way my father responded to me whenever I told him “Boo Hoo. It’s not fair.”

“Who said life was fair? Get up and get it done yourself.”

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