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Trading Places: Not Sure Where To Post This

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4665
Joined: May 2005

NOTE: I posted this almost two years ago in another forum on CSN. I kind of revisited the scenario yesterday after chemo. Well, not exactly since this person did not appear to have "health", they looked to have AIDS. They were panhandling on a street corner and looked to be in bad shape, they were in their 20's and had the purple blotches on their face. Rarely do I give money but often I get a sandwich and give them that instead. Giving them a sandwich certainly made their moment, I've rarely heard a bigger "THANKS MISTER" in my entire life.
While at times I'm less than thrilled with my current health situation, I'm used to it and it's manageable. Overall quality of life is good with the exception of the 3-4 days of chemo hangover. I really felt bad for this person. They didn't seem to have much going for them but maybe they ARE happy after all.
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I am not quite sure where to post this, there is no "Food for Thought" section but I don't think this is out of line on here either. I'm sure I'll find out one way or another.

I was in NYC last Friday to have a RFA done. It went very well, I did not have to stay the night at all. I was getting a ride back from my brother in law and on our way out of the city, he had to stop at a Whole Foods store. I decided to stay in the car, we were up in the Upper West Side, past Columbia University. Anyway, while I was hanging out in the car I noticed a guy who looked to be about 50 (like me) and appeared to be down on his luck. He was asking everyone how walked by if they had any spare change. If they said "no" then he would ask them "why not?". Some people walked past him doing there best to ignore him, one woman said that she had nothing now but on her return trip she would give him something. She did walk past 5 minutes later and did give him some change. The guy was heavyset and bearded, he wore a flannel shirt. Thankfully it wasn't that hot out but he did not look like he had his own apartment and most likely he probably stayed in a shelter. I have no basis for coming to these conclusions but often one can look at a situation and draw some conclusions.

So here is a thought that I had which I've had other times. Assuming that this person was in good health (aside from being overweight) he was an African American*, he looked to be homeless, jobless, and not well educated and he did not look to have a family life to speak of. He did not look to have many prospects either although he looked like he raked in about $5 in 10 minutes. So I ask, would you change places with him** given the chance so you could have health, but not a whole lot more.

*I only add that since I'm a Caucasian male and have not had to face issues that I would have had to face if I were an African American.
** I am not suggesting to give another person your cancer, just to have health but their life situation.

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
Posts: 2731
Joined: Jul 2006

I would not trade with anyone. Each of us has our problems and you could be trading for worse. There is always something. That's where 'walk a mile in their shoes' comes in. I've never been a gambler. I like odds of 99% or I don't do it. Although once I bought a lottery ticket and won fifty dollars and my boss at the time asked if I was going to buy another and I said, "No, I'm quitting while I'm ahead."

I'd miss certain people also. So good or bad, I got what I got. I think my soul is in a good place and I wouldn't want to trade that either. I used to say all I needed was my health. I changed my mind.

RE's picture
RE
Posts: 4606
Joined: Feb 2004

Hello Phil, this is a fine place for your post I think it fits well here. First off since you posted the question you should answer it as well (perhaps you did and I missed it) because I am curious since you observed this individual if you yourself would trade places. I would not, I like my life a lot. If I traded with him that would mean I would be trading away those that I love and that is not something I would ever entertain. Perhaps he has diabetes, aids, a heart condition or a failing liver we do not know. However even if he were in spectacular health in is a no brainer for me, I love my life and those in it so no I would not trade. I happily will walk down the path I have, who knows where it may lead. Okay Phil balls in your court, would you trade?

*´¨)
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•` ¤ RE

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4665
Joined: May 2005

I did not answer it yet, I thought I'd see if it got any responses first. I posed it assuming that he was in perfect health, just homeless and broke.
I would not change places with him either. While ultimately our health is the most important thing that we have (compared to money or other material things) I don't think I'd be comfortable having no family or place to live. It's strange because using my statement about health, I would think I'd grab the chance to be healthy. I would not want to live not knowing where I'm sleeping or going to eat next. I wonder if they'd trade places with someone like me! maybe one day I'll strike up a conversation with someone and ask them if they would trade their health for having a home and food on the table. I can't offer $$$ since we are on a slowly sinking ship.

I've had people ask me for money in the city and I rarely give out money. I will buy them a Subway sandwich and a bottle of water (and put tons of jalapeño peppers on it!) and leave it with them. Mostly I've done that with people who were not panhandling and were just sitting there looking so lost and afraid. I don't like to give money since they may spend it on something other than food.

Now assuming that we were all healthy and had to make a choice as to what we wanted. Being a street person or having cancer what would you choose or do you see it as the same thing? I don't know what I'd choose...neither one is a treat.
Thanks for answering the question. I have thought of that at times and wondered how others might answer it.
PS: I don't really put peppers on it, I actually make it pretty bland. No onions either.

z's picture
z
Posts: 1251
Joined: May 2009

Hi Phil,

On my way to work yesterday I saw a thin white man in a flannel shirt at the light holding a sign with some type of request, as I could not read it. I live in FL and its 95 degrees out, and I was thinking he must be so hot. I know I've seen other men there with signs asking for money. My 1st thought was it would be nice not to have to do anything but stand there with that sign, and what freedom that would be. Then reality hit and I thought this man must be addicted to some type of drug, and thats what his goal in life is, is to get money to keep feeding his habit, which would be hell on earth. As I've been there and I'm grateful to be sober for over 20 years. No I would not trade my life with anyone, I must do my best to survive the life I have, good and bad. So far I must say, I have led a good life, with bumps along the road. Lori

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4665
Joined: May 2005

I often think that anyone panhandling is going to use the money for drugs of booze. I'm sure there are plenty who would NOT do that but it's hard to say who will do what. That's why I like to give food or a water or something. Being addicted to drugs/alcohol with no chance of help would be horrible. Glad you've stayed sober. One day at a time....

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

True story that I just read in the local gazette: a guy panhandling along one of the highways had a sign that read "Yes, I will buy beer with it".

There is something to be said for such honesty.

As for the question, Phil, there is no question: I'll take this one, the one I have.

Take care,

Joe

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4665
Joined: May 2005

I saw a guy with a sign in NYC once saying "I need $1 to put a joint". I almost gave him $2 and told him to get me one too! I admired his honesty.

I guess it's a no brainer question.

CanadaSue's picture
CanadaSue
Posts: 339
Joined: Apr 2006

Phil,

You always seem to come up with the most unusual topics…LOL

Would I trade places- NO.

Even though our world was turned upside down four years ago when my husband was dx’d with colon cancer. It has been a rollercoaster of a ride to say the least, I still would not trade places.

I need some form of security, and living on the streets affords you none. You don’t know where you will sleep, where your next meal is coming from, nor do you know the people you are surrounded by.

I would choose to keep my life the way it is thank you, even knowing that one day soon I will be on my own, I still have family and friends that surround me.

Hugs,

Sue

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4665
Joined: May 2005

I get tired of the same old cancer questions. I like to try to give some food for thought. Sometimes I serve up a nice meal, other times it's just PB&J
;-)

While the cancer stinks and has it's own set of unknowns, it's provided so many things - some good, some bad but it's the real world for sure. I'm sure life on the streets is the real world too but I couldn't be a vagabond.
-phil
Thanks for your response Sue

CanadaSue's picture
CanadaSue
Posts: 339
Joined: Apr 2006

Phil,

I really enjoy your "Food for thoughts" posts, and even the PB&J. It helps to take the mind off other things at times. You get everyone thinking outside the box for a change.
With this post you have me thinking my life is not so bad after all.

Have a great weekend!

Hugs,

Sue

sea60's picture
sea60
Posts: 2601
Joined: May 2010

Very thought provoking. I guess along the same line of thinking would be "If you could have all the money in the world, but be miserable, would you trade places?"

In this case, it's trading health for a "down on your luck" life so to speak?

As I see it, we can't ever know what's it like to walk in one's shoes, just your own. It is hard to be empathetic at times, and I for one have to fight off judgemental feelings towards the behavior of others (there for the grace of God go I).

Interesting thread :)

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4665
Joined: May 2005

I know this is hardly the same as many of us have going on but just hearing about Tiger Woods and how he sort of self destructed I said to my kids at dinner last night that it shows (again) money/fame/etc can not bring you happiness.

You are right, we all experience this differently and even if we didn't have cancer, our lives are different. No one knows why someone does whatever it is they do.
Thanks for participating.
;-)

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

...Woody Allen who said money can't buy you happiness but it makes the misery easier to live with? :)

Take care,

Joe

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4665
Joined: May 2005

He also said "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that people aren't out to get you!"

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
Posts: 2731
Joined: Jul 2006

Actually that quote is from Joseph Heller - Catch 22. Seems a lot of people have quoted him.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

:)

Take care,

Joe

AnneCan
Posts: 3693
Joined: Oct 2009

I would not trade places with this person, because I would miss my family, friends, + life too much. Also, who is to know; he could have cancer too!

mariam_11_09's picture
mariam_11_09
Posts: 693
Joined: Nov 2009

The grass often looks greener on the otherside. There is so much for me to feel grateful for that I wouldn't want to change it for anything in the world, even if it meant not having cancer.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

Can't do it. Very strange feeling. Basically I am the type of person who feels that everything happens for a reason so I think that is what is stopping me from saying 'yes I would trade with him' but it's interesting it would even be a little bit of a dilemna for me. Interesting indeed.

It would have been easier to answer in the affirmative if you said that you could change your fate if you chose the down on his luck dude but if you had to stay in that despearte situation - not quite as tempting.

I, like most of you I would suspect, have gained a good deal of wisdom from the cancer experience as I have I think so to give that up would be impossible indeed. My children too have seen their Mother fight hard to survive and I think it has made them stronger too so that is something I wouldn't want to lose - teaching them about survival and strength.

So my answer is no I wouldn't change with him but even as I typed that there was a little voice that whispered 'yes'. Irritating little voice, lol.

All the best Phil.

BLuerose

John23
Posts: 1832
Joined: Jan 2007

I guess I wouldn't want to trade places, because
I'd be trading the poor individual's decent health
for my cancer ravaged body.

It just doesn't sound like a very fair swap to me.

Just a cpl centavos' from the p-nut gallery..

John

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 2777
Joined: May 2009

No, I would not. I have a homeless brother in law who we see once in a great moon, now that we moved to California. Before we moved, we saw him about once a week to get showered and get a something out of his closet (I kept for him with new clothes). He never wanted to work and appears to be fine living under a bridge or where ever he stays warm at. We got him jobs and he did not stick, he wanted to be out doors. We got him a job outdoors, and it did not stick. So, can't help him anymore.

In summer, everyone once in awhile he and his newest girlfriend would come take a dip in our pool to take a bath (so my girls would tell me). Man, did I want to empty that pool!

But, to get back to the question no, I would not. I need a home, a place of my own. And I have too much pride to take from other's hard earned money.

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