Over the last month the rags to riches story of the homeless man with the “golden voice,” Ted Williams, captured national attention. One minute he’s begging for change along a busy intersection in Columbus , and the next he’s being offered high-paying voiceover jobs. The Cleveland Cavaliers even offered Williams his own home at no cost.
During an appearance on The Dr. Phil Show, television host Dr. Phil McGraw asked Williams some tough questions that had to have crossed the minds of millions. Paraphrasing what Dr. Phil said to him, “Ok, so you’ve been in trouble with the law, been on drugs and alcohol, abandoned your wife and children, and now you’re getting a second chance. Why do you think this time will be different?” Williams really had no response.
A few weeks later, Dr. Phil’s concerns are realized when Williams is arrested after a drunken fight with his daughter. He is now in rehab, thanks to some straight talk and a compassionate, if not misplaced intervention by Dr. Phil.
Williams was plucked from homelessness and a life of drugs and drinking and plopped down in the middle of fame and fortune and yet people had some ridiculous idea that he would suddenly change his ways. Why are people so much more willing to help someone with a troubled past than to support people who have stayed on the straight and narrow their entire lives?
For those who work hard their whole lives, struggle to pay the bills, stay away from drugs and booze and do everything they can to secure a home and job, stories like this are extremely frustrating. It seems to some that working hard and staying cleans only means that the breaks will never come.
Modern American (liberal) society seems more and more to look down on the working person and holds the lazy, entitlement-driven, drunken and disorderly in higher regard than ever. Today’s celebrities, for example, are valued not for their talent but for their ability to beat a DUI arrest or drug bust.
Spare the “it’s an addiction” defense. In order to become addicted to something, a person has to start doing it in the first place. It is seriously doubtful that anyone held a gun to Mr. Williams’ head the first time he emptied a bottle of Grey Goose, which he is reported to have been drinking before his latest arrest.
It’s unrealistic and hopelessly optimistic to think that someone with such a long history of destructive behavior is suddenly going to change because he got money and a haircut. In fact, it generally goes the other way. People who are yanked from a sorted existence of their own making only tend to indulge to the extreme when given the opportunity.
So what will become of Mr. Williams? Statistics are against him, unfortunately. Since he did not choose to go to rehab on his own, instead being shamed into the decision on national television, it is unlikely that his recovery will be successful. Adding that he may emerge with more fame and money than was available before his rehab stint, the sudden kick in status from having nothing to getting everything will probably have him seeing the bottom of a bottle sooner than later.
Statistics can be wrong, of course, and the man with the golden voice might just get his life together. After all, not everyone has the opportunity to have Dr. Phil come to their rescue.
For everyone else out there who is working hard and staying clear of temptation, keep it up. It might seem frustrating at times that no bleeding heart do-gooder will ever swoop in to solve your problems for you, but there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. The real trick is to know how to turn it on – hard work, persistence, and faith in yourself.
Gery L. Deer is a freelance columnist and business writer based in Jamestown . Read more at www.gerydeer.com.