How Hard is it to be Compassionate? Really?

A comment at the Idaho Statesman site this morning flat-out pissed me off.  It was related to the benefit concert being held at the Egyptian Theatre, January 31st for the employees of Barbacoa.  It’s from AJ’s Mom.

AJSMOM wrote on 01/09/2010 07:06:02 AM:

I am sorry about the fire, especially the lost jobs. But it should be noted that most regular folks never got to know what this restaurant is like because we cannot affored to eat there. I mistakenly went once with someone and we walked out before ordering because we could not afford anything except maybe a side salad. The entrees were $36 and up. Dinner for two is easily $100. We went next door and had a grand ol’ meal at Red Robin, which is where we working folks go for a fancy dinner. So everyone raving about their food presumably has lotsa money to burn or they would not have been able to eat there!

It was those two phrases:  ‘most regular folks’ – ‘we working folks’ – along with the presumption that whoever ate or frequented this particular establishment had (has) $$$ to burn.  The use of those phrases effectively dismissed the employed at Barbacoa as NOT being either ‘regular or working folk’ and thus, undeserving of any help or consideration.

It’s apparent AJs Mom missed this story because I’m sure she’d have had something despicable to add.  The owner of Barbacoa met with those 125 employers at Key Bank, reporting “part of his insurance will pay the salaries of his employees for the next 60 days. Some in the crowd said they’ve found new jobs. Many more are still looking.”

This was also of interest to me.  The photo gallery at Barbacoa’s website has a picture of Filip Vogepohl’s chandelier.

The fire also destroyed several pieces of art by local artists. Castoro said he’s spoken to 11 artists, including Filip Vogepohl, the local glass artist who created Barbacoa’s signature chandelier, to talk about replacements.

I’m not following the logic of AJ’s Mom.  The first thing I thought about upon reading the story January 2nd was “what about the employees?”  Not every working stiff is organized or fortunate enough to have breathing room in their earning power.  I – fortunate, organized or downright stupid (depending on one’s perspective) – have about 60 days room.

Whether one is almost living paycheck to paycheck or actually living it there’s no excusing the lack of compassion for those who find themselves in the situation as those who were employed by Barbacoa.  Separating them out from ‘the regular or working folk’ alludes that these are undeserving folk because they are not like you and me.  Besides as others interject pointedly, they make good money when working.  As reported most Barbacoa’s employees were not full-time workers.  The status of most was either part-time and/or a second job for many who were in school or looking to defray family expenses.  These are exactly what AJ’s mom say they are not – regular, working folks.

One other thing that was repeatedly mentioned in other disturbing comments was unemployment benefits.  Unless things have changed since the last time I received U/E – 2005 following an unexpected layoff – the amount you receive is totally dependent upon the amount of money you earned during previous quarters.  So U/E benefits may be forthcoming for some.  And U/E benefits are for surviving not living.  The few months I received U/E, weekly payments were equivalent to roughly 50% of my previous salary.  But again the emphasis in the comments isn’t on the capability of living on 50% of what you earned previously but one’s deservedness of being a recipient of those  benefits.

There are at least two benefits planned for the employees of Barbacoa.  This morning on KBSU, Carl Schieder mentioned a benefit planned at the Egyptian Theatre to be held January 31st.  Proceeds will go to – if I heard him correctly – a fund for employee medical expenses.  He also mentioned that Kevin Kirk & Onomatopoeia would be the headliner with other Boise area musicians. Information here at The Egyptian’s web site.

KTVB has this listed for January 22nd.

China Blue on January 22nd to raise money for the Barbacoa Employee Trust Fund. Ted’s goal is to raise $40,000! Wit h all the Barbacoa fans out there, I bet we can do it…

If you’ve got the time and the disposable income it would be a nice gesture to attend one of the benefits.  The recipients are our fellow citizens, regular, working folks – like most of us whether we’re capable of admitting it – who’ve just hit a rough patch.  I had yet to eat at Barbacoa.  However we’re planning on it as soon as they reopen to show solidarity with some of our community’s residents.

If interested, I found this on what barbacoa is all about and how to prepare it.

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