My wish to understand the underclass was granted in the funniest way!

I wished to write about the “have-nots” as a progressive “have”


 Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it. I had a wish when I was a fresh faced 20 year college student in an exclusive  east coast Ivy League university. The closest I came to people called “prostitutes” or “escorts” or “hookers” or “providers” was when I took the course entitled “Poverty and the American Underclass.”  To be brutally honest with myself and my dear readers I was comfortably ensconced in a cushion of superiority. While studying how the other class lived I never doubted which side of the dividing line between halves belonged to me. Yes all people were created equal but through means not thoroughly understood, people did not remain equal. I was an idealist determined to help the less fortunate. Help, not mingle.  Noblesse oblige was my attitude–in other words the noble obligation to help the less fortunate that is the privilege of the enlightened “haves.” My wish was to delve, temporarily, into a world thoroughly apart from my own by securing a position as a prison GED teacher for inmates. How progressive of me! As a secondary agenda I would become one with the people, for the duration of my studies. You know, really get to know them, and later write about the world of the prostitute and similar ne-er-do-wells.  I was determined to represent the underclass prostitutes, addicts, homeless as human and very similar to you and me, even if the underclass representatives were unappealing and did not fit palatable stereotypes, such as the notion of a hooker with a heart of gold. I was an accepting person, you see. 

Be careful what you wish for, it may not turn out the way you imagined it would!

I did not just walk their path, I took off my shoes and put on theirs. Now their shoes are my shoes.

   I received my wish.  I got to know the underclass. I have been able to write about the underclass. I have embraced members of the underclass in my writings even if they were not especially appealing people but instead had many of the faults others assumed they had, such as laziness.  I had access to these people. The reason I understood the underclass was because I wasn’t specific enough in my wish to enter their world. I never emphasized to the wish granter that I intended only to visit, not to inhabit. I should have told the cosmic genie that when it came to “us and them” I was always to be considered “us” and the homeless, addicted prostitutes, were always “them.” But the joke was on me because I was granted the best point of view one can have when wishing to understand by walking in another’s shoes.  I was given the shoes and I am actually wearing them. And I thought I was only going to step in their footprints! Not make new ones. Ha! There was a truth I was going to learn about their shoes…to be cont…

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