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Verbal Shorthand

Have you ever heard somebody say about the homeless, “They should just get a job.”  I think people who say that are neither stupid, nor mean-spirited, they’re just confused by the verbal shorthand we use.

 We say “homeless” to describe these individuals and families as if being without housing defines them – as if it’s the disease itself and not just the symptom that is most obvious to the casual observer.

After all, a two-finger typist like myself finds it much easier to write “homeless” than to keyboard, “person with undiagnosed, untreated bipolar disease who started drinking to kill the pain and is now an alcoholic, and because of the bipolar and the drinking made some really bad choices in relationships and learned about domestic violence firsthand, and had too many babies with the bad choice, and got in trouble with the law and got a record, and because of the alcohol and the bipolar has a really bad employment record – complicated by the felony, and because of the employment issues and the bipolar and the felony and the drinking got evicted a couple of times and owes OG+E and ONG a couple $100, and owes past landlords several $100, and has exhausted every social connection they ever had, which weren’t that many to begin with.”

If we said all that, instead of just “homeless,” people would see how asinine it is to think “just getting a job” is the solution.

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