Yesterday, we ran our weekly Wednesday WTF, and some of you had some serious issues with it. Our entire staff was on it all day. I was also called a few names, but that’s neither here nor there.
What I would like to say is this: I in no way saw any humor in what I saw in that listing. Sometimes, the WTF is hilarious to me. Sometimes — as in life — WTF can also be used in situations so shocking there is no other term that will do. WTF is a way we try to bring a little humor into Hump Day, but we never intended it to be a swipe at the less fortunate. Not ever.
Fact of the matter is, people live like this. The people who live(d) in this house did.
Now I don’t live that way. Neither do most of you. I’ve been quite poor (and I’ll be happy to tell you exactly how poor offline if you’d like), and I’ve been quite comfortable. But in all those times, I was quite clean. And when I wasn’t able to do that myself, there was someone in my life to make sure that happened. Maybe I was damn lucky.
In this case, clearly the people living here did not have that. And that is unconscionable and sad. It’s a situation that is truly due a WTF reaction, because nobody should have to live like this. Nobody should.
But we were never talking about the people. We were talking about the listing.
Still somewhere, we all failed these people. As we do every day in Dallas. Keeping a clean home shouldn’t be dependent on whether you’re using a walker or can walk unassisted — it’s a basic human right we should all have. This isn’t a matter of personal taste. But homes are like dependents: they require constant care and upkeep, and if you’re not up to it either physically or financially, this happens.
If anything, we drew attention to a need, even if by accident. Readers are already reaching out, wanting to help. So if you looked at these pictures and were horrified, I hope you’ll consider doing one thing for me: Be a good neighbor. If your neighbors are older, or are infirm, especially, check on them. Offer to do the mundane tasks like wiping down doors and decluttering if it will help them. Check on the safety of their home if you can, and try to help them encourage their landlord (or the city to encourage the landlord) to make necessary repairs. If they have family, prod them.
If you’re unsure what to do, call 211 and ask what programs are available, or reach out to some of the providers on this list for advice.
One thing we do at CandysDirt.com so very well is stir the dirt, ask the tough questions, and look at the story behind the story with transparency. We’re doing that now with this post, so stay tuned. Did we step too far unintentionally? Maybe. But know that I nor anyone on the CD staff thought the condition of the home was funny.
I assure you, I certainly did not.
Bethany Erickson is the education, consumer affairs, and public policy columnist for CandysDirt.com. Contact her at email@example.com.