Do you ever find yourself contemplating the " What ifs " in life? Those are the pesky questions that are often the cause of many a sleepless night. In my case, I more frequently ponder the What if I hadn't rather than what if I had scenarios. It's often appropriate to ponder the what if questions because by asking that one simple question it opens a world of possibilities that just may lead to solutions for some of lifes most perplexing problems. Note : Politicians in Scottsdale and in general may want to ask this question prior to making decisions rather than waiting until after as in , " What if we concentrate a variety of bars within just a few short blocks? " But I - digress.
As an almost lifelong resident of Scottsdale, I have become intimately acquainted with most of its nooks and hiding places for inconvenient truths AKA - City Hall. A recent article in the Scottsdale Republic, the areas only source for " official news ", focused on a growing demographic in the affluent Scottsdale area, an area that is apparently not immune to the perils of an economy that has yet to fully recover. Oh sure city officials would like to leave you with the impression that all is well in Whoville, that Scottsdales economy is headed in the right direction and the time is right to grant raises to the City of Scottsdales long suffering employees and that heck, we might even explore a sales tax increase to fund arts programs, museums and other cultural amenities for those affluent enough to enjoy such pleasures. Earth to council : The reality for many residents is far different as evidenced by the fact you have a growing demographic of nameless, faceless folks otherwise known as the homeless. This in a community that is far better known for its bling, bars, bistros and Benzes . So, How do you spell Cachet again?
It's easy to make casual assumptions about the homeless - they must be suffering from a mental illness or substance abuse issues but the new reality in todays economy is that a homeless person could just as easily be - someone you know. Even in Cachetland ( Scottsdale ) , there are many who are faced with decisions far more critical than which downtown bar to frequent or where to purchase their next Benz. Allow me to share some of the stories I have collected over recent months that involve these " nook " dwellers. I should add that many seem to be nearing an age where they should be contemplating retirement rather than how to survive. Where to start. Well, there's the woman who had to sell her beloved pets in order to finance a house payment, the older gentleman who moved to Arizona due to his wifes health , lost his job and the rest is - history and then there's the guy with the shopping bags. He's a guy about my age ( just a kid ) who I often see boarding local trolleys loaded down with a multitude of shopping bags containing food donations and other memorabilia. I've chatted with him on several occasions and often thought I should carry a large reusable shopping bag with me so that I could offer it to him the next time we had a chance encounter. Possibly he could condense 7 bags into a mere 4. Of course, some homeless folks don't want help, some are too proud to ask and some simply don't know how to ask. My next encounter with this gentleman was on Christmas Eve when I spotted him preparing to board a trolley again burdned down with a variety of bags. He informed me he was on his way to a Christmas Eve service at a local church. I just happened to have my favorite all purpose Farmers Market shopping bag tucked into my purse along with a can of Wd40 , a screwdriver and some Victorias Secret cologne. Don't Ask. I'm like a Boy Scout - prepared for any situation. Just as I was contemplating whether I could part with my beloved shopping bag , a $3.00 purchase , without any hesitation he held out his hand and offered me a rose , carefully crafted from tin foil and adorned with a red ribbon .He even apologized because it was slightly - crushed. As I stood there, feeling like a nickel waiting for change, I asked myself " What If, What if I had been the first to hold out my hand and offer him the shopping bag? Funny that the best gift I received during the holiday season came from a guy who had little to give but gave what he could in the true spirit of the season.
I am happy to report that some things have changed over recent weeks that speak more about Scottsdales true cachet then all the muesums, bling, bars and Benzes ever will. I recently overheard a conversation between a trolley driver and a passenger. Apparently they not only ponder the what ifs , they follow through and do what many of us only contemplate. They apparently locate jobs, shelter and other assistance for the homeless folks they come into contact with including the gentleman with the shopping bags. We should all be grateful for another nameless, faceless demographic - folks who quietly transform those What if questions into What can I do? solutions. There is another question we should all ask ourselves. What if it were me? for as mom used to say, " There but for the grace of God ...... "