Some 5,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in October, and 3,000 more were caught in the first half of November - record numbers for both months.
Some 5,000 unaccompanied immigrant children were caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in October, and 3,000 more were caught in the first half of November – record numbers for both months.

For starters, I needed housing during my stay for a week to visit my daughter in PA from my home in MA, USA while she carried out her undergraduate education southward of me. So my daughter looked for a cheap motel for me. It turns out that it was a welfare motel, a place where low income people live, something that she, with naivety, didn’t understand when booking me there.

Wow, did I have fun there. First off, the paper-thin walls allowed me to hear the conversation and singing of the black couple from the Delta Blues region next door. What singing voices! What love and tenderness they had for each other.

He’d say that she should have stayed with Bob as she would have had a better life than living in a one room, run-down motel. Then she’d say that she couldn’t have done so since she loved this man, who she stayed with (himself) so much. … Then they would break into song and the beauty of their voices and his guitar playing were perfect. It was like an epiphonal moment in time with perfect sound and perfect love in the mix. Put another way, they entranced me because how can you not love such a high level of goodness, singing skill and mutual caring when you are exposed to it? How profound and awesome an experience they brought my way!

You know what they also did? They had some gaudy fake flowers, really awful looking plastic ones, outside of their one room. Every time that I would pull up my car after visiting with my daughter so I could sleep for the night, they touched me as I saw that the couple was trying to make a home. It was bitter-sweet to see the ugly beauty – an attempt that they tried to create normalcy in their lives by having disgusting fake flowers.

So when I left to go back to MA after visiting my daughter in PA, I left an envelope with thirty dollars in it and said that it was payment for making me feel welcome when I, a traveler, stayed next door to them. I told them to go out for a night on the town to a nice restaurant with my thanks to them for brightening my life with their flower array. (How could I tell them that I suffered for them and loved them for their beauty of being?)

Now a few rooms down was a family with two children in this welfare motel. The mother would always walk them to a bus stop away from the motel due to the shame of being associated with living there. How sad to be castigated for being poor and have to hide it by walking to another bus stop.

The motel room in which I stayed had a broken toilet seat and a broken shower head. What do I care since I’ve slept in a sleeping bag in the woods on a bed of rocks and bathed in cold lakes in the early morning with loons calling out around me. I’ve sat on logs to carry out basic bodily functions in the deep woods so having a broken toilet seat or a shower head that dribbles a trickle of water is nothing to me.

Yes, I’ve also stayed in top luxury hotels and resorts in the USA and overseas. You should see these joints at up to $600 or so a day here in the USA and overseas. They are gorgeous, too, but I don’t think that they can match the singing that I heard, with faces that I never saw, from that couple next door to me in the welfare hotel. Priceless!

Yet, let’s go a bit further. Another situation was happening in the town where my daughter was in college. It involved immigrants, sometimes illegal, from south of the USA border. … My daughter took me to meet some of these fellows at a small Mexican restaurant that was struggling to exist.

The guys running it would send their money homeward to Mexico to support their impoverished families. They lived in a two room dirt-floor shack on the edge of a farmer’s field. It had neither plumbing, nor electricity and they paid the farmer to be able to exist to live in the shanty-home that the Mexicans had built on sight. It was simply a mere shack and got very cold in the winter.

One of fellows did have a car with no insurance, of course. He totaled it on an ice slick one day, but it was a one car accident. So the police just walked away while shaking their heads in disbelief. Then these guys had to come up with another plan to get the next car and thumbed their way to work until that point.

Thumbing means that you thumb a ride by standing at the edge of a road and hold out your thumb to ask for a free lift. I once picked up a female teenaged thumber and, boy, did I give it to her. Oh, I did.

I told her about that she couldn’t know that I weren’t a demented rapist. I told her that it was too dangerous.

I also picked up a guy once with little skinny tiny polio legs, like a little child’s legs, sitting in a wheel chair in the rain on the side of a highway in Indiana and took him to NY. Yet that’s another story – this adult sized person with painfully crippled and insufficient legs sitting in a wheelchair on a highway in the Midwest with the cold rain pouring down on his head.

Back to the Mexicans: A few of them lived in some alternative arrangement besides that shack. What you can do is go and sleep in a living room of some home on the sofa as long as you arrive at 10:00 PM at night and get out by 6:00 the next morning after taking a shower.

It works because the person on the sofa ate his dinner at the Mex restaurant, but just needs a safe sleep-spot. It works because the hosting family needs the extra money to pay rent or mortgage.

All the same, I grieve. I grieve for the poor family that can’t make ends meet except by renting out their sofa. I grieve for the poor Mexicans living in a shack with bedding on a dirt floor and the sofa sleepers. I grief for the singing Blacks at the welfare motel and I grieve for their white neighbors that drop their children off at another school bus stop to hide their poverty.

As a human, we are capable of going way past hiding impoverishment to keep ourselves and/or others alive. Look:


80% Of Central American Women, Girls Are Raped Crossing Into The U.S.

Currently there are not enough good paying jobs to adequately serve any of these people . Just wait and see about what happens when the population hits above the 7.5+ billion people already on this planet and it has been practically driven into a nothingness by becoming commodity –  by increasingly turning too much of the natural world into products.

I shudder to think of the way that it will be at 11 to 15.8 billion at the end of this century. Thankfully, I, with all of the compassion that I can bring forth towards these PA people that I described above, won’t be around to see the horror. It will probably be greatly unbearable for many and contentions will just rise as resource deficits also rise.

In truth, I do not like where the world is heading. However, I smile every time that I remember the singing from the next door neighbors at the welfare motel. What they gave me in goodness was worth way more than the money that I slipped under their door. How priceless it became as a memory. They deserve a meaning of the word, hallelujah, and the description of it as exposed in the following song. They are the best sort of people, who you could meet … well, sort of meet since I never saw them with my eyes.

I have very high standards of comportment. They, these incidental neighbors, matched my top place of being so I love them despite that there is often a cold hallelujah to offer back in place for their gift to me. They are, obviously, priceless to me!

My glance at them is strong and accurate. I’m glad, therefore that my daughter booked me into paltry broken-down, but replete motel! Hallelujah!

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah – YouTube

I know my privilege. Despite that I saw all of these others in PA, this is what I saw in my next-door neighbors. It shows the extent of what we can be as humans.

I’ll never hear those two singers again. Yet I know and experienced their essence.

Want to see their personhood? Take a peek and here it is:

Leonard Cohen – Dance Me to the End of Love – YouTube

Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA.


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