Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Pursuit of Happyness: Minnesota Style

Since it is still Christmas time, I thought I'd share the inspiring story of our old friend at NIGP, Leon. As you may remember from about a year ago, Leon was homeless, living behind a KFC dumpster. Leon recently wrote with his inspiring story of how he overcame the odds and changed his situation in life:


My story is a lot like that guy that Will Smith is playing in his new movie. I was living with my baby and his mama in a Minneapolis apartment a few years ago and times were tough. Baby mama had a regular job and I worked a little. I sold bone density scanners that fell off a truck to hospitals. But the hospitals were suspicious of where I got them and they just weren't buying.

One day baby mama got fed up and left for New York to live with her sister. I demanded that she take the boy, but she left him with me. We got by best we could until tragedy struck. Not being a skilled cook, I started a small kitchen fire. I called the fire department, expecting they could put it out. The next thing I knew, my building was filled with lesbians. The apartment burned to the ground as the lesbians made out.

Homeless now, my boy and me lived in my car. But the car got impounded because I had too many parking tickets and wasn't a militant Muslim congressman. At that point we moved behind the dumpster at KFC, where our only food was leftover chicken bones and those delicious potato-corn-chicken-gravy-cheese bowls.

Most days we just rode the bus to pass the time. Then one day I overheard a man in a suit talking about an internship as a stock broker at his downtown firm. This could be my ticket out! With some hard work, I could show my son that we could overcome any obstacle.

After the man in the suit got off the bus, a guy got on wearing faded dockers and an old shirt. He was talking about how he worked for the county and how they had a generous welfare program: subsidized housing, welfare, food stamps and even unemployment could be mine, without the indignity of actually working for it. I went right to his office to sign up. There was only one more thing to do. To qualify for unemployment I needed to show that I had looked for a job.

I remembered the stock broker internship, so I went to apply. To insure my unemployment check without work, I made sure to wear a paint-speckled wife-beater tee shirt to the interview. The guy interviewing me asked if I believed that he'd given a job to a man who walked in without a shirt. "Damn," I said. "I wasn't even going to wear pants!" No one laughed, but I secured my unemployment check.

So that's my story. I've found my happiness and I hope you and your readers find yours too.


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