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Economic poverty in ten words, from a Catholic Worker breakfast

 |  NCR Today

This morning today I got a ten word lesson from a friend while helping with breakfast at the Holy Family Catholic Worker house here in Kansas City.

The breakfast is a pretty casual deal. We just put out some toast (along with peanut butter and jelly), fill some pots with coffee, and hard-boil a few eggs if there's been a donation lately.

Mostly it's just a chance for people to come inside for a bit before they go about their day. After breakfast many of our guests head out to find day work.

Often during the time we're open in the morning people use our phones to call their contacts and try and find something they can do that will pay a few dollars.

As I was sitting having some peanut butter toast this morning, a short man named James came over to the table from the phone in a little bit of a huff. He was stomping his feet as he made his way over.

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I said, "James, what's wrong?"

He looked at me gravely for a moment, explaining that he was just told that the interview he was supposed to have for the day was canceled. He said the call made him feel stuck, like he wouldn't ever be able to find good work because people had typecast him because of his economic position in certain day labor jobs.

Then James cracked a short, wry smile as he uttered the next words.

"I feel like Brando!" he said. "I can do love scenes too!"

Boy, did everybody at the table have a good laugh at that one. But if there's a better way to express the way people facing economic poverty in our society are treated I certainly don't know it.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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