The Two Faces of Poverty

Believe it or not, there's still a place in Florida (number one in job loss!)  where bored housewives bitch about the fact that this holiday season they'll have to sacrifice new designer jeans so little McKenna can get her plastic kitchen and Elmo doll. That's in a place called Safety Harbor, of all things. Over here on the other side of Florida, where we're reminded daily of what real poverty looks like, there are surely plenty of South Beach sob stories of repossessed Jags and foreclosed luxury condos, but more often than not the tales of this economic downturn are truly bummers. Like this one last week from the Herald about a carpenter with five kids named Joseph Cappelluzzo who is trying to hold on to his tiny two bedroom Hollywood home on as little as $200 a week:

"His desperation recently led him to stand at a traffic light near the exit ramp of Hollywood Boulevard and Interstate 95, holding a wooden sign: 'Licensed and insured finish carpenter. I have 5 children. My wife and I don't want a bailout. I NEED WORK.'

"His wife and kids--who range in age from 8 months to 12 years--stood nearby. As cars passed, some drivers offered Cappelluzzo spare change, even cash. But he refused all handouts. Instead, he gave drivers a flier advertising his work and his business card. 'If you need a carpenter, think of me,' he told them."

We get the feeling that the days of whining about designer jeans might be short lived, and that before long, we'll all know a Joseph Cappelluzzo or two, or find ourselves in a similar situation. So regardless of your financial situation this holiday weekend, give thanks for what you have and be like Zo and share a bit with those who don't.

--Jesse Hyde

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