A man with a blowtorch comes to your home when you are at work. He torches it, then takes a jackhammer to all the water lines, tears down the powerlines, tears up your gardens and salts the earth. He does this to all the houses on the block. When you return from work to find your entire block gone, you go to your neighbors. No one is entirely sure what to do, but a few of the folks who were home saved a few belongings. You are collectively and individually able to fashion makeshift tents out of bits of old clothes. Some people share more than others, but there’s at least an existence. It’s not what it was, but it’s something.
The man with the blowtorch sends van drivers to the various encampments and starts driving right through the tents, damaging, if not destroying them. We get used to it. It happens semi-regularly, and we just deal, to the point that when men with spiked bats start getting out and bashing folks in the knees, we thank them for not aiming for the head. We wouldn’t ever dream of taking a job as a person wielding a bat. . . but if those vans are gonna be driven anyway, we’d definitely take that money.
This continues long enough, that the man with the blowtorch realizes that having whole blocks of dehydrated people crawling around on bloodied stumps with bits of half-torn tents constructed from flannel and coffee filters isn’t that great a look.
So he donates a truckload full of high quality camping tents from REI, as well as water bottles. We take the tents, because it will rain soon, and we need to be covered. Our lives are improved by this, though we wish the water bottles had, you know, water in them. The blowtorch man makes a rousing speech encouraging the man with the jackhammer and the man who flies the plane that sprays pesticides to pitch in, maybe give everyone commemorative hats.
Now the man with the blowtorch is no longer the man with the blowtorch. He’s the man that gave us all tents.
What a hero.
Also published on Medium.