Thursday, April 3, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: This Monologue Brought to You by: Food Poisoning

Everybody expected Yusef Amin Jr. to quit after a week. Half a month at the most. He was a spoiled teen riding a trust fund. He came from money, slept in money, and didn’t need to go to college or worry for his future. He was destined for luxury. That he wanted to work in a soup kitchen was just a phase. He’d signed up on a moral kick, for the emotional high of feeling good for doing good. He’d be back on X-Box Live as soon as he felt better about himself.

But he lasted a week. Then two. Then an entire month. His co-workers were shocked to see him return after the time a patron stabbed him in the kidney. The patron had waited outside, hearing about Yusef Jr.’s wealth. He carjacked him and left him with a flesh wound for his troubles. Police never found the assailant. Yet Yusef Jr. came back, and he came back to the same kitchen. He came back with a vengeance, doubling his hours at the local shelter (while wearing cheaper clothes to work). He came back maxing out credit cards to keep blankets in the shelter and chicken on the menu.

Yusef Amin Jr. was stabbed three times over his entire career of hands-on philanthropy. The attacks were unrelated to each other, mere hazards of working in bad areas.

Exiting the hospital for the third time, he saw a guy playing his guitar with his case lying suggestively on the sidewalk. Yusef Jr. dropped his pocket change in. Yusef Sr. chastised that giving to the poor only encouraged them to remain as they were.

Jr. responded, “Yeah, dad, I’m sure this ninety cents will totally validate his life’s dream of wearing bags over his feet and not knowing if he’ll have a roof over his head tonight.”

Then Jr. dropped the contents of his wallet into the case.

Sr. cut Jr. off financially. It did not last, not with Mrs. Amin worrying about her son, but it sent a clear message.

So Yusef Jr. went to college, studying politics and social studies, while keeping up social work as an extracurricular. The story of his third attack circulated so much that he inevitably had to explain why he kept coming back to shelters. He said he was born with a deep-seated terror of poverty. He was not afraid that the guy lying on the pavement would mug him, or that the needy veteran on the steps would go crazy if he approached. If anything, Yusef Jr. was terrified of the notion of people being poor. It chilled him; just thinking about it made his hands cold. For him, helping out at a soup kitchen was entirely selfish, just as everyone said, except that the selfishness manifested in needing to feel he did something. That was his moral kick, and he would never stop kicking.

1 comment:

  1. I really really love this one. Excellent work!


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