“When you’re listening to nothing but the best of oldies, you’re listening to Magic 98.9!”
It’s hard to believe that it was only a week ago that Ted Williams, a New York-raised beggar, was filmed by a journalist looking for nothing more than to acquire some filler for a dead news day. The film, taken in Columbus OH, captured Williams panhandling at the side of the road, using a rich, buttery, golden baritone to impress passing motorists in exchange for a dollar, and then a brief (not to mention touching and articulate) interview afterwards. Whilst it’s apparent from his appearance that Ted has succumbed to years of drug and alcohol abuse, his humble and poignant admissions of a life gone wrong moved this member of Spandex Ballet to tears.
Well then, blow me down if 24 hours later, I didn’t have tears in my eyes for a totally different reason – Ted was Big News. The video went viral, acquiring 4 million hits overnight, and Ted was getting offers of work, the likes of which most of us can only dream about. Among the bigger of the offers was a two-year deal (including a mortgage paid on a house) announcing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This is all relatively old news now, and you might wonder why we’re reporting on it so late. Well, it’s about the backlash. There hasn’t been a massive backlash, as yet. But there have been lots of comments on the internet (usually from people brave enough to slag Ted off, but not brave enough to print their names) along the lines of, “I’m a hardworking American and I’m poor. This guy’s a beggar with a history of crime, he doesn’t deserve this (with heavy undertones of, ‘but I do’)”. Well, let’s discuss this –
Homelessness shouldn’t happen in fully-developed countries. It’s as simple as that. But it does, and short of getting the government to house the poor (and that simply isn’t going to happen), there are really only two options; we leave them on the street (to continue begging/stealing/insert crime here), or we rehabilitate them, using any existing skills they may have.
Ted Williams stood on the side of that road for a year, holding his sign proclaiming his god-given talent. A full year. And in all that time, all he ever wanted was a job. He didn’t want fame, or riches – he just wanted to contribute to society, and have a second chance. Contrary to the old adage, I don’t believe that everybody deserves a second chance. But most people do, and Ted is certainly one of them. He got himself clean with no real motivation to do so, and wants to do the best for himself and his family, who he clearly loves.
But it’s not about his motives, it’s about the amount of money he’s about to make. If Ted Williams was holding a sign saying, “I have the god-given gift of being able to drive a bus”, and a man came along and said, “I run a bus company, come and drive my buses for me, you genius bus-driving man”, everybody in the universe would be patting Ted on the back. “Go on, Ted! Drive that bus with pride!” But because he will now make potentially millions of dollars, this has pissed people off a bit. You can’t have it both ways, folks. “You lazy bum, go and get a job! But one that pays less than I make!”
Mr Williams, I salute you. Now, don’t make me look like a twat – stay clean, and keep working. Oh – & The Daily Mail, who ran this article about Ted’s “sordid” past, Spandex Ballet’s message to you, is the same as always – fuck off.