Fame and Fortune: The Weekly SOB


L.D.  Lew Downs
The past few years have changed me a lot… and for a much better person. My job as a firefighter and my job waiting tables on the side have exposed me to all kinds of people, problems and situations. Some of those situations have made me proud, some have made me sad, and many have made me upset.

Working near the big city, I have seen just how diverse of a melting pot this world can be, and I have seen just how many assumptions of others can be made.

There are many men and women in this country who are doing well for themselves. They come from a good family with supportive parents and siblings… they went to college… they landed a job… they’re making decent cash. They’ve met the love of their life, they’ve started a family, they’re living the American Dream.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, nothing at all.

But there’s a large chunk of individuals in this country whose American dream is quite different… some may even call it a nightmare.

They come from broken homes… they may not even have a home. They struggle to pay the bills… they may not have any education… they may not even be in this country legally.

Those are the people we shun away from when they make public appearances. The people who make us uncomfortable when they’re around.

I have seen businessmen spend $1000 between a few people eating, drinking and being merry… only to toss out half of the food and wine because they simply didn’t care. To them, it was just a business expense or they simply have the cash to “throw away”.

I’ve also seen people standing on street corners begging for change, or a few dollars, or anything a passerby may spare them. I’ve seen people so sickly looking that I’m surprised they didn’t die right there on the corners they stood. I’ve seen people scraping through the garbage cans looking for the half eaten steaks the businessmen tossed away.

Call me crazy, but it shouldn’t set right with anyone knowing there are people suffering as bad as they do. I’ve gone on calls with my fire department that simply left me feeling guilty. I’ve seen living conditions that have made me sick to my stomach… how could anyone LIVE here… how could anyone call this home?

But the most shocking part about all of this?

The smiles… the happiness.

The “God Bless you, sir”… the handshakes, the smiles, the laughter and the tears of joy. The beautiful expressions and gestures of those scraping by who could rightfully so be defensive and non-welcoming to a world whom they feel has left them to the dogs.

Fame and fortune… the importance of these two words qualities have changed quite a bit for me over time.

I used to think fame was being popular, having people know who you are before you even walk into a room and demanding the attention of everyone in it once you were present.

I used to think fortune was making lots of money, having fancy cars, going on vacations… not worrying about bills that had to be paid.

I’ve decided that it’s time to change my outlook on these words.

Maybe it’s time to make beautiful people famous.

Maybe it’s time to show the rest of the world just how truly fortunate we are… and how much we take for granted.

Why yes, Lew… it is time.

And so began my desire to create a new social media project… The Weekly SOB.

Once a week, I will be taking a homeless person/family or someone who has simply fallen on hard times out to breakfast. Maybe it will cost me $10, maybe $20, maybe $50… I don’t know, nor do I care. Although I’m not made of money, I know I can figure out how to cut something out of my life or budget my cash differently in order to make this work.

My only requirement out of The Weekly SOB? That they pour out their soul to me.

I will record our conversations, have some pictures taken and upload their “story” onto Facebook in a six part segment, hopefully bringing Facebook a new SOB every single week. Besides normal grammar alterations, nothing will be added to or subtracted from our conversations… it will be raw emotion and raw honesty,and so there will be no filtering.

My goal is to show others just how much beauty is in the world, and how beauty can often be disguised. In a society that celebrated achievement and looks, we’ve become notorious for writing off and even shunning those that don’t fit the bill.

This may not reach anyone other than my Facebook friends… and even then, many of them if not most may ignore the posts. But if it can open one person’s eyes, I’ll consider it successful. And whether or not it receives feedback, I’ll keep on doing it. Because if you want things to change in this world, you’d better be willing to be the igniting source behind that fire.


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