I’m Donning My Cape and Becoming Robin Hood

If ever the world needed a Robin Hood, they need one now. I’m seriously considering donning a cape and becoming a female Robin Hood. You think I kid. But I am not kidding because I am so sick of hearing Republicans say blah, blah, blah, and Democrats say blah, blah, blah. Really, everyone just be quiet for a bit. People need help, not principles (Republicans) and definitely not ideologies (Democrats). At least, that’s what I’ve found out.

The biggest thing about my newly transplanted life is that I have developed an entirely new group of friends. I know, that isn’t so weird, considering I moved. But, I didn’t move that far away, and the weird part is this: My new friends couldn’t be anymore different from my old friends than if I had moved to a foreign country on the opposite side of the world. The culture shock is just as real as an immersion program in Guatemala, which is fascinating, to say the least, but mostly eye-opening. Something I needed.

My new friends are people who work 2-3 jobs, don’t travel to Europe, don’t have second homes, don’t belong to clubs, their children don’t go to private schools, and they live minute-to-minute financially. It actually takes courage to live that way. Like I said, where’s Robin Hood?

They live hand-to-mouth, and yet are the most generous people I’ve ever known. I’ve benefited from their generosity. I’ve had a few bills slipped into my pocket with no expectation of a thank you. No expectation at all, except that if I am ever able to bless someone they hope I do. It is a code of honor among them. Those that have now, give to those who do not. Their biggest fear is the weekly work schedule, which goes out a week in advance giving them their work hours. It can change for reasons they have no knowledge of, and leave them with less hours and trying to find work in-between, which is anything from mowing yards to cleaning houses. They will do whatever it takes to make ends meet.

Here’s a recent example of the generosity I’ve witnessed. It happened this past week, Christmas week. One friend works for a very successful woman. That woman chose Monday, December 22, exactly three days prior to Christmas, to tell her employees (most of whom work 12-15 hour days for her) that this year there would be no Christmas bonus. Her timing was impeccable, don’t you think? How thoughtful of her to let them know before the actual day of. I seriously wanted to go all Robin Hood on this rich chick, as I had prayed with my friend that she would receive the much needed bonus, and we were both awaiting that decision anxiously.

cinthia milner--transplanted and still blooming--robin hood

Here’s how my friend and the other employees handled the sad news. The ones with more money (we’re not talking millions here), gave the ones who had children and less money, the bonus the employer felt she could not give. They did this by forgoing their own Christmas, or delaying the payment of an upcoming bill for a bit, and giving cash out of their own pockets. They calculated the amount the bonus would have been, and between them were able to provide bonuses for a few. (Again, we ain’t talking millions here.) So, where you ask was their rich boss while this was happening? Well, her company did not make enough this year to pay her workers a Christmas bonus, but it did, thankfully, earn enough to pay for her annual Christmas trip to the Cayman Islands for 2 weeks. We can all rest a bit easier now, knowing that her yearly trip was not interrupted by the company apparently making less money than per normal. Whew.

I’m going to call this what it is. Oppression. Making money on the backs of others. I’m also going to call it what it morally is. Wrong. God himself has a heart for the poor and counts kindness to the impoverished as kindness to himself. We’d do well to remember that, and all be Robin Hood in some way.

My last life included friends who considered health care, grocery buying, sick days and vacation days all part and parcel of everyday life, along with lunches with girlfriends, shopping when you felt like it, travel athletics for the kids, and exercising at the gym. I’m not excluding myself here, which is why the lesson of my new friends is so poignant. I thought everyone had these things except the very poor with no jobs at all. I didn’t know about folks who work dawn to dusk and still cannot provide for their families.

Tired, sore bodies, who are leaving one job to head to the next, was not a part of my back-then world. And sadly, I must say, neither was generosity–at least not on the level I see it now. One very rich friend often chided such workers for drinking Starbucks coffee, I mean that extra five dollars could go a long way, you know. (And no, don’t point out to me that it adds up. What do you do with your extra money? I thought so.)  Seriously, my rich friend would’ve done better by offering to buy their coffee, remembering that that worker earns in two weeks what she earns in five minutes.We’d all do better buying that cup of coffee for someone, and stop our projecting on how others should live.

We’d all do better to done a Robin Hood cape, and take from our own pocket books to distribute to those in need. And we’d all do better to stop expecting an impotent government to do anything other than argue, and be about the business of making things right ourselves.

Why am I on this rant? Well, besides donning my Robin Hood cape, I am awed by new friends. They have taught me a larger lesson that extends beyond their generosity–they don’t give up. They don’t close up their hearts, and their gladness, and their joy, and their love in the face of ugly treatment, shabby pay, rich bosses who haven’t a clue, no way to pay the rent again, tired feet, sore legs, heads hurting, and dreams dashed. They don’t quit or stop loving and living, they do just the opposite, they love more, they dream more, they risk more, they open their hearts more, and they leave more on the table. They hang onto hope, and make room for more.

They live abundantly, though they have no abundance.

What inspiration I have found among them. I, whose broken heart and broken pocket book was leading her straight down a bitter road, learned from those who live on little to open up my heart, even in the midst of it breaking, and make room for more. More laughter, more joy, more gladness, more love, more hope. Life is hard, and Robin Hood but a myth, or perhaps, a legend? At least, that’s what some people say. But, I’ve seen Robin Hood in the midst of my friends, as they take from their own pockets and place in another’s.