The other morning, when I was walking Rigby, I was approached by a small, frail-looking, and bedraggled woman who looked to be in her seventies, but I suspect was probably much younger. “Do you have 50 cents?” she asked me. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any money on me,” I answered. But right after I started to walk back home, and she to walk down the street in the opposite direction, I shouted out to her, “I live down the block. If you’ll walk back to my house with me, I’ll give you some money.” She turned to follow me home.
I ran into the house, grabbed a $10 bill, and bought it out to her. “I appreciate this very much,” she said in her small voice. It upset me that someone her age is forced to stop strangers on the street to ask for a measly 50 cents. What brought her to her horrific circumstances, I thought.
I don’t feel good when I do something like this for another human being. I feel as if it’s my obligation to do it, and if I don’t, I am not the human being I’m supposed to be. My father would call me “bleeding heart” when I’d give change to people in New York begging for money in the 1970s. I disliked his attitude. Friends and family occasionally would admonish me for giving money to people who they thought would probably use it to buy drugs or liquor. Their opinions went in one ear and out the other.
There are times now when I think I’d rather throw in the towel than work as hard as I do.
I’ll sell my house (even though I adore it more than any place I’ve ever lived), move to a small town where the cost of living is far lower, and take it easy. But I always remind myself that I am blessed to have talents, and health, that allow me to continue to make a living doing things I love. And no matter how overwhelmed I feel at times by all the demands on my time, I imagine I’ll never feel as overwhelmed as the woman I met who clearly doesn’t have the mental or physical stamina to help her make a living.
As the weekend approaches when we celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers, let us all stop and think about those who aren’t in positions to achieve as much as we have. It’s hard enough jumping through the hoops we all face day in and day out But, it’s got to be stupefying if you’re impeded by horrendous situations well beyond your control.
And, please, let us think about the thousands in severely flooded areas of Texas, many with infants, small children and infirmities, who have been driven from their homes. The rush of waters also has forced thousands of businesses to shut down, leaving desperate people feeling even more hopeless because they’ll likely lose their incomes for many months.
It is heartwarming to see total strangers stepping in to help those in need. I am going to check how I can contribute.