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Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Cup - 10-25-12 Deadline (10/18/12)

TITLE: Homeless. No job. Three kids. Please Help.
By Allison Egley
~1st Place


I can't believe how easy this is. I never thought I'd say this, but I almost enjoy it. I hold my cup and sign. Homeless. No job. Three kids. Please help. Gets them every time.

I thought this might be easier. I hate this. I wish I had any other way. I hold my cup and sign. Homeless. No job. Three kids. Please help. You'd think that would get people to give, but I guess not.

People assume because I'm a white female, I'm telling the truth. And I am.... mostly. So I only have one kid. And I'm not exactly homeless. My mom will let me stay with her as long as I'd like. But it's not my own home, so...

I think people assume that since I'm a black male, I'm lying. But I'm not. I promise.

They think I'd never buy drugs. I have three kids, after all. People can be so naive. Ha!

People probably think I'll buy drugs. I've always been clean and sober. I wish I could prove it.

Sometimes I take my daughter out of school so she can come. When she's with me I get double or even triple what I'd get on my own. She's like a special charm. She needs this education.

Sometimes I take my kids with me, but only if they are off school. They need an education. When I have them with me, it gets a few people, but more often then not, I just get dirty looks. They look at my kids with pity, then look at me with scorn. I can almost hear their thoughts. How could you do this to these kids?

I used to have a part-time job as a waitress, but I needed extra money. So I begged. I took my cup and sign. One kid. Minimum wage job. Please help! I got more in one hour of begging than I did in two with my waitress job. I thought it was a fluke, so I tried again a few days later. And again.

I used to have a great full-time job, but the executives were corrupt and the whole company shut down. Next, my son got ill. Soon I couldn't pay rent.

So I decided to quit my job as a waitress to be a "full-time beggar." Oh man. I just have to laugh every time I think of it.

I've applied for other jobs, but I only have one year experience in my field, and they all require three years experience. So I don't have enough experience. Then I tried to find other jobs. But they took one look at my old job and wages and said I was overqualified. So now I'm a part-time beggar. What a joke.

Soon, I'll go to my mom's house, kiss my daughter, and go out with my friends. We'll drink, smoke, shoot up, snort... whatever. Don't worry. My daughter is safe with my mom. And it's my life. I can do what I want. My mom will probably raise her better than I can anyway.

Soon, I'll go back to the shelter, and wait for my kids to get off the bus. We'll have dinner at the shelter and then go to bed. I worry about them so much there. I'm always with them, but I still worry. Anyone can walk into the shelter and you have no idea who he is or what his intentions are. Gunshots fill the air at night, and I cringe. A shelter is no place to raise kids, that's for sure.

Here comes a car. I stand up, holding up my sign and cup with a frown. The window rolls down, and I look at the woman.

She looks at me with sympathy and says "God bless you." She drops a dollar into my cup.

"Thanks," I mumble back. What? Only a dollar? Some people are such cheapskates. It makes me sick

Here comes a car. I stand up, holding my sign and cup with a sad smile. The window rolls down, and I look at the man.

He looks at me suspiciously and says, "Don't spend this on drugs," as he drops a quarter into my cup.

"God bless you," I say, as I bow my head and tip my cap to him. Wow. Some people are so generous. It makes my heart sing.

Homeless. No job. Three kids. Please help.

Homeless. No job. Three kids. Please help.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/25/12
Wow this is a bit of brilliance. You told so much more than what was on the paper. It reminds me a bit of what I was trying to do with my story last week, but you did an outstanding job. We all have stereotypes and prejudices--once we admit that then we can start saving the world...of, at least, one person at a time. Again I say Wow!
C D Swanson 10/25/12
Sobering and thought provoking. An excellent entry with underlying shadows of society overall.

Nicely done. God bless~
Lori Othouse 10/25/12
This is awesome and so thought-provoking! Love the contrasting, back & forth style. Excellent!!
Danielle King 10/25/12
This is brilliant. Out of the box, grabbed my attention and held it. Without many words it speaks volumes. Wish I'd thought of it first. Excellent!
Theresa Santy 10/25/12
Wow! This one struck me hard in the chest, and it took me a while to get back up.

This is my favorite line:

"God bless you," I say, as I bow my head and tip my cap to him. Wow. Some people are so generous. It makes my heart sing.

Brought tears to my eyes. And the way you added those last two lines, same as the title, same as each other, but poles apart in meaning-- was nothing less than brilliant.

Marie Hearty 10/25/12
Excellent story. You did a great job at portraying the two characters. My heart reached out to the man, while I would have loved to give the woman a good talking to. Great writing and a great message.

God bless!
Charla Diehl 10/26/12
This is the reality of our culture in many parts of the world. Stereotypes still exist and most likely always will. It's the scammers that ruin it for the ones who truly need the help. Seeing people with signs for help are not unusual at all in my town. I support our Food Pantry on a continual basis;and I pray for those holding the signs when I see them.
lynn gipson 10/31/12
Excellent, just excellent....I always assume the ones I give to are of the second one you wrote about....

Clever, unique and compelling.

Thank You
C. Roxanna Tineo11/01/12
Wow! This is so convicting. It makes me think about how I look at those who are in this position. Thank you for sharing this.
Ellen Carr 11/01/12
You have done an excellent job with this. The contrast between the two beggars works really well and is confronting. While 'we' may not discriminate on this basis we probably all discriminate in our own ways. Thanks for writing this.
Leola Ogle 11/02/12
Congrats on your placement. This entry touched me. I worked in downtown Phoenix for a ministry for 19 years and this is all too real! God bless!
Laura Hawbaker11/02/12
Congratulations! Good job, excellent writing!
Lillian Rhoades 11/02/12
Allison, There's little more to say than what has been said. Brilliant, creative, and an unabashly honest statement about societal prejudices. I love the unique way you tackled the top "Cup."

Congratulations for a true "Pulitzer Prize" entry.
Lillian Rhoades 11/02/12
Now, I just need to learn the new technique for removing/correcting my statement.:-)

It's "topic" not top.
Danielle King 11/02/12
Congratulations Allison. I suspected this would win. Brilliant work!
Catrina Bradley 11/02/12
I want to cry ... for both the homeless man who needs help and the lost soul who also needs help, but of a different kind. Outstanding fiction.
Bea Edwards 11/02/12
Absolutely fabulous interpretation of the topic! So clever and unique young lady. Well done.
Ellen Carr 11/02/12
Congratulations Allison on winning 1st place. Not really unexpected for this great piece of writing.
Beth LaBuff 11/03/12
I've seen both sides here in AZ. You are spot on with this. Congrats on top honors, Allison.
Olawale Ogunsola11/07/12
A well deserved win. Congrats!
Emily Ritter02/05/13
Woah. This is intense. I wasn't intending to read it, (because I was supposed to be doing something else) but once I caught the first line, I was intrigued to find out about this bolding non-bolding stuff. Stereotypes/ racism is hard/sad stuff. My brother (who is black), is the cleanest cut nicest man in the world tells me stories of walking down the street and people casually walking faster because they think he's up to no good. Just sad. Your writing is excellent. Thank you for writing so often! And for winning so I found your stuff! God bless!