Work the Deadbeats

Deadbeats wasn’t my term, but the word of an angry woman that boarded the Seattle Streetcar and slid into the empty seat next to me. 

Despite her deep frown, she looked striking in a black skirt, bright red blouse, and matching pumps. She opened a briefcase to reveal dozens of resumes. It was late afternoon, and she told me she’d spent the whole day canvassing businesses for employment. Six months prior, she’d lost her job after corporate downsizing.

My usual quiet ride back downtown wasn’t going to be. This tired, forlorn woman needed to vent. And she did.

After the first three months of unemployment, she humbly applied for government assistance. Sitting in the DSHS waiting room with “kids” fully able to work frustrated her. 

Whether she’d researched it recently, I didn’t know, but she angrily noted that there were 10.2 million American young adults who have no job, are choosing not to go to school, or take part in any job training opportunities. 

Rather than taking a minimum wage service job, “these kids take the handouts and sit at home”.

Waving her hand disgustedly she noted that millions of young adults take advantage of benefits she helped pay for. Shaking her head, she asked why they couldn’t take any job while they waited for a better one. I silently asked her the same question.

She didn’t seem ready to hear my advice—nor had she asked for any. But I wondered whether she would have offered to work for free.

Hold on, I know it sounds crazy, but it’s how I got a job. I volunteered to wrap holiday gifts at a department store. The manager noticed my work-ethic and a month later I was offered a position.

As we discuss ways to overhaul the entitlement system that pays benefits to the unemployed, perhaps providing opportunities to volunteer would give them experience and a chance to give back. We all see things that need to get done in our communities. Why not ask those with time on their hands to serve? 

You can’t be a deadbeat if you’re willing to volunteer, right?

It's not for a lack of opportunities—one newspaper posts over thirty local organizations looking for volunteers. 

Need a job? while you look, work for free.

Interesting side note, when Maine reinstated a work-requirement for able-bodied adults to receive food stamps, those needing assistance dropped by 80%.

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