Friday, July 9, 2010

L&F's Wash House and the Race to the Bottom

Yesterday, the Loaves & Fishes Men's Wash House was closed without giving notice to the some 140 guys who would have used the facility that day.

I had learned a couple days beforehand that the facility would be closed on that one day for the reason that the guys who work there needed a "mental health day."  I put up a 'notice' in the 'upcoming events' sidebar in this blog.  Likely, exactly zero men benefited from that notice in SacHo blog.

In other organizations, where providing good service is necessary to stay in business, employees take mental health days, individually, and the work of the organization goes forward.  In other organizations and in business, you can't rather suddenly close for nine straight days, as Loaves & Fishes' Friendship Park did during the first nine days of May, and not give a rat's ass about what effect that has on your customers/clients/the people who need your services.

In reputable organizations, administrative people who conduct themselves the way the administration does at Loaves & Fishes would be summarily fired.  I submit that the majority of administrators at Loaves & Fishes should be canned immediated and that that alone would make the world a happier, brighter, snappier and more-effervescent and -refreshing place.  Pouring tar and feathers on the L&F Board of Directors and running them out of the county would be a good thing, too.

The chair on the bridge
where Capt. Kirk sat.
At Loaves & Fishes [with the $10,000/day1 it receives in donations from kindly, but non-inquisitive Sacramento citizens] dead trees don't get removed in an always-crowded park such that when one fell it could easily have smashed somebody.2 Nowhere else is there such blithe administrative disinterest in being responsible.

It has since been learned that the Wash House staff took Thursday off, not for mental health, but to go to a Star Trek exhibit at the Aerospace Museum of California.  Some of the staff of the Wash House are Trekkies.  There is a mural in the staff section of the Wash House that shows the bridge of the starship Enterprise.

Make no mistake, I think the world of the way that Mark (usually) manages the Wash House.  I volunteered some time working there and I continue to use the facility. If Mark and a few of the boys wanted to take a day off, I submit that it would have been very possible for others to step in and run the joint for a day, keeping it open such that homeless guys could "get their day on" by first getting themselves clean and presentable.  Absent that, there certainly should have been an effort to post signage, and get the word out, to let homeless guys know such that they could find alternate means to get bathed and shaved early enough to meet their obligations for the day.

My guess is, and I bet I'm right, the Wash House gang were growlly because the people who work in the Park, effectively, got a whole week off the first week in May, whereas they had to be open a couple of days, then. Thus, in a race to the bottom3, the Wash House gang got to disappear from work for a day as something of recompense. The competition is on at Loaves & Fishes for who gets to work the least.

The work of Loaves & Fishes, helping the hungry, homeless and misbegotten, is as noble as it gets. But those who work there don't understand all that. They don't understand how fortunate they are to do something meaningful and that it all is sure to make a difference in this hardscrabble world.

Many don't have a clue and instead of recognizing that they have a direct opportunity to make the kingdom of heaven on earth, there are wacky ideas in the L&F Ivory Tower of turning America into a Communist Paradise, with gulags and no freedom and drudgery and the government owning everything and, dammit, a ceasation to any technological advancement!  There's more work to be had if everybody has to pull their own plow through the cornfields.  Backwards to the Dark Ages, ho!
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1 Donations were over $3,650,000 in 2009.
2 Joan Burke, L&F's Advocacy Director was quoted in a Sac Bee article on Jan. 22, 2010:
"By the grace of god, the limb fell off first, piercing the roof of one of the gazebos," said Burke. "It was pouring rain, and people had to come out of the cover. There was quite a bit of grumbling, but not 10 minutes later, the whole tree went over, crushing several benches. So we are very thankful there was nobody there, because they truly would have been killed."
3 A race to the bottom usually refers to a situation caused by an individual seeking a more favorable outcome at the expense of others by upsetting an equilibrium to their own favor, only to cause retaliation by the other individuals, resulting in a competition that leads to an overall dire outcome, for each and every body, and, often, for others [aka, homeless men!] who were not among the competitors. [Some wording from this definition is 'borrowed' from a wikipedia article that is no longer online as it had been.]

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