Have you ever encountered a person that needs help, but you have helped them many times before and you just can’t do it anymore? That is a question and a situation that I have been living for days and as simple as the answer is (at least on paper) I just can’t pull the trigger. I should walk away knowing that I have done way more than enough. A whole lot more than anyone I know. But I can’t. I took an obligation to never leave a poor or distressed Brother in need. I’m a Mason.
It started years ago. A former Master of my lodge and a good friend (in fact he is the reason I joined myt beloved fraternity) called me one night late and told me his car had been towed. He needed help. He had no money to get it out of impound. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t have the money. He had a job. Or so I thought. He was pulled over for having an expired sticker. The traffic stop would reveal that he was also driving an unregistered vehicle and with no insurance. Upon further questioning it got worse, I would learn that he was homeless, unemployed and owed a shit ton of back child support. His license was being pulled by the state. I brought it to the attention of a few brothers, and we got together to help him best we could. But nobody knew how bad off he really was, and we were now involved.
I’ll keep this brief. He was so deep in a hole that he dug. Not only had he lost his job, but he also wasn’t looking for another. He couldn’t bring himself to even apply for one. He had zero savings and to make it worse his family had disowned him. It was all way beyond our comprehension how that particular nugget could occur. The obvious question was “how had he been supporting himself” but we later learned that he had taken freeloading to the level of an art form. It was apparent that nobody in his life wanted to support him anymore and that any bridges he had ever crossed were now smoking embers.
So, we (and by that I mean me) set our sights on finding some temporary lodging for him.
I found a brother and mutual good friend who had a room to spare. The catch was that he wasn’t in a financial position to feed our brother so I decided that I would give him 300 bucks to cover his food for a month. We agreed and sat down our brother and explained that we were helping him with a place to stay, hoping that with the anxiety of where the next bed was going to being removed he could then focus on getting back on his feet.
It didn’t work that way. He sat on his ass and played with his phone for the first 2 weeks. They began to argue. My friend the host told him that any help he was getting was contingent upon him making an effort to improve his situation. To make it more fun they were both calling me complaining about the other. I washed my hands of it. I told my friend the host to do whatever he needed to do, up to and including kicking his ass out, and I told my down and out friend to smarten up and get his shit together. It ended badly. At the end of the month he was thrown out.
I kept up with him and continued to support him as I could. I paid for him to get a state issued ID so that he could work. I gave him some more money. 2 months later he dropped off of the face of the map and I washed my hands of it. The word was that he was living with a member of our lodge (Masonry is a strong bond) taking care of his sick wife in return for lodging. This would go on for 2 years. Last month his new host passed away unexpectedly and his wife, the one being cared for by my lost brother, passed away as well. When I heard, I reached out to him and asked him what his plan was. He didn’t have one. Despite being steadily housed for 2 years he still had no job, money or prospects. And he was rude as hell to me.
I was floored. I asked him why he would treat me like that and he ignored me. The urge to tell him to fuck a goat was strong but I took the high road. In a most conflicted way. Despite being outraged and feeling totally disrespected I still wanted to help him. So, I spent two days making calls.
As it turns out he had already been calling around to everyone who would answer. The word was out; take this guy in and he will never leave. Alan Harper of Two and a Half Men would be a lesser leech than my friend. Still, I persisted. I lobbied his new lodge (he quit ours for some reason, probably related to why he was rude to me but I don’t know what it was), for help. More than one person asked why I would do so, given the way he had treated me. Apparently, word had gotten out. I persisted until I knew he was warm and safe, his first day on the streets would be the day the Nor’easter hit last weekend. Long story short, he is housed for now.
I’m kicking myself and I’m not because I know that I’m not a sucker, I’m a Mason and we never turn our back on a brother in need. My obligation and personal compass doesn’t allow for personal animosities. I know I did the right thing and probably will continue to do so. I just have to remind myself why I am doing it.
The right thing is always the course of action to take. His actions reflect on him, not on me. I don’t want a thank you. Every good act I’ve ever done was without expectation of something in return. Believe it or not, it’s easier that way.
I am a Mason above all else…