I try to avoid the usual games bloggers play to get readers. I don’t often label my posts with guaranteed keywords that will get hits. I don’t write about current events every day, hoping that I’ll garner fans. I could. I’ve become a darned good writer through the years and I think I could build a base that way if I wanted to. But I don’t, for the same reason that I haven’t thrown in the towel and written a cheap romance novel under an assumed name, to put some beans in my jar while my “real” books await discovery. I have a job; I have a life. All I have left after six years of homelessness is my integrity, and even though there is nothing about doing those things I mentioned that calls my integrity into question…it would do that in my heart. I want people to read my stuff because it’s good, not because they were Googling the most talked about topic of the hour and I worked the system to get hits.
But this morning I’m going to bend my rules a bit. I’m going to touch on a topic that’s trending on social media and in the news and I’m going to do so realizing it will garner readers, if only for the day.
I want to talk about Sean Hannity.
More directly, I want to defend the man. Not that he needs me. But I have a connection and I think I owe it to him to at least tell the story, because his character is being attacked and I’m not going to stand by while that happens.
For six years –from May 2008 until May 2014- I was homeless. I did not drink, or do drugs or gamble my mortgage payments away. I was a hard-working, successful man who made a good income. I wasn’t rich by any means. I barely broke into six figures, but I had what I valued, so that made me wealthy. I had been divorced for several years and was devoted to just being a dad to my daughter and trying to recover from my very broken heart.
I was a manager for a nationally known mortgage company. I had my own branch, had succeeded in the ten years I was in the business and was doing well. Then 2008 hit. The industry collapsed and I was out of a job. Before long, I was out of a home as well.
While this was happening, my daughter’s world was collapsing. Her mom had remarried and her husband began to show his true colors. After a few years of marriage, his drinking and drug use increased, as did his violent nature and emotional abusiveness. My daughter’s mom refused to leave him and my daughter suffered horribly. I can’t recount the events here, it would take too long, but because her life was in such jeopardy at only ten years old, I had to stay in Nashville where we lived. I was the only buffer between her and the monster her mom had married.
I could not find work enough to get a place to live. I could have moved to an area of the country where there was work but my daughter’s life would have been even worse. I stayed to protect her. I slept in my car and showered at the county rec center and did every menial task, and odd job I was offered.
This went on for years and nobody in the government was listening. I held on to the hope that my faith brought me and the love for my daughter. But there were times when I felt like breaking down. Times when my hope waned and I felt like giving up. It was in one of those times when I had my interaction with Sean Hannity and felt his compassion.
In May of 2013, the Obama summer vacation schedule had been announced. Weeks of golf and weeks of lounging on Martha’s Vineyard at the cost of $5 Million bucks. Meanwhile I was living in a Yukon, sleeping next to my carpentry tools and trying not to show my daughter how hard my life was. I was sitting in the parking lot of her high school (she was fourteen by this point) and waiting for her to get out so I could spend thirty minutes with her before taking her home. I was incensed that the President was STILL ignoring the plight of the nation and going on these expensive vacations. I felt alone and isolated and ignored. I felt like I was fading into nothingness. That’s how homelessness feels. You feel invisible. It’s the loneliest thing I’ve ever lived through.
I guess I just wanted to vent and be heard. Sean was discussing the expensive vacations that day so I called.
Lauren was the screener that day and I told her I wanted to discuss the topic at hand. She asked me what my take was and I told her matter-of-factly that I was homeless and trying to rebuild and here is the President laughing in my face. She stopped me right there and said “Wait…you’re homeless? Homeless right now?” I said yes and told her my story quickly.
Lauren put me through to Sean, who listened to my story and my rant about Obama. He listened. Nobody was listening then, but Sean did.
When I was done, he offered me $2000 to get my carpentry business started. He said “You need tools, you need business cards…I’m going to send you two grand to help you get started.” I refused but he insisted and then he told me to hold on and talk to Lauren again. I was on hold briefly and then Lauren picked up and said “Okay Craig, I just need your mailing address so Sean can send you a check…” I told her I was not going to give her the address. I told her I didn’t call to get money and I couldn’t accept it. I had all the tools I needed and business cards galore. I just wanted to vent that day. Lauren laughed and said “I knew you were going to say that,” and then she wished me well and told me they’d be praying for me and my daughter.
I can’t tell you what it meant to me for a guy like Hannity, who didn’t know me or have ANY reason to help, to offer it. It wasn’t the amount…it was the intent behind it. It had been a long time since I felt like someone cared, or since I felt like someone believed that I was trying as hard as I was.
A year later, almost to the day, my daughter and I limped out of Nashville in that same beat up Yukon and headed to Lynchburg, VA, where we now live. I have a great job with my alma mater and she is a sophomore in the music program. I am slowly rebuilding, and able to spend a lot of time with her. She’ll be nineteen this Sunday and I lost some valuable years while I was living in that truck. But we made it.
There is no way to express what Sean’s offer meant to me that day. The terrible invisibility I felt was gone, if only for a few moments. It might sound odd, but the opportunity to not take his money gave me hope. I was broke, homeless, hurting and a bit angry. But I still had my integrity and Sean gave me a chance to remind myself that even after all this loss I was still the man I desired to be at my core.
I don’t have his number on my speed dial and I don’t know any secret email address. I have no way of contacting him other than the same way everyone else does. Yet I think of him as a friend in that he wanted to help when help was rare. I can’t stand by while a guy who did something so literally life-saving for me, is attacked by hacks who are simply jealous of a guy who busted his butt for everything he has and hasn’t forgotten how hard other people struggle.
I hope this story reveals something of his character to those doubters, because to me he is a great man, and I can’t sit still while this goes on. If you dislike his politics, so be it. But you don’t try to ruin a life because you find it disagreeable.
Not while I’m watching anyway.