Word count = 586 / Reading time = 2 minutes, 15 seconds
I ranted about a similar topic in my previous post “A Harmonic Convergence“, a 2-minute read that gives some background to today’s rant if you’re interested. I’m shocked I’m already having to rave about it only a month later.
Ever since the local Super Wal-Mart opened, it has been a magnet for people who find themselves in need. I was so frequently accosted in the parking lot or inside the store by people asking for money or help that I took to keeping “care envelopes” (each containing a $5 gift card to Wal-Mart, a $5 gift card to McDonald’s, and a current list of local care agencies with addresses & phone numbers) with me at all times.
Monday, along with my other purchases, I put $8 on a gift card with the intent of using it to put a little gas in my car’s near-empty tank. (The affiliated gas station gives a 3-cent discount for using Wal-Mart gift cards, and I take every discount I can get!) As my young son and I walked back to the car, a 6′ 4″ tall, stout-limbed, imposing man with a powder keg-shaped torso approached us irritably complaining that he was visiting from Memphis (a 4-hour drive via Interstate), his fuel pump went out, it took all his money to get it fixed, he and his son were hungry, and he didn’t have enough gas to get home.
Finding myself without one of my care envelopes, I offered him the $8 gift card I had just purchased. What follows is a fair approximation of the discussion that ensued as I stood there holding the card out to him:
Me: “I don’t have any money on me, but you can have this $8 gift card I just purchased.
Him: “What is that?
Me: “It’s an $8 Wal-Mart gift card.”
Him: “What am I s’posed to do with it?”
Me: “You can use it to buy $8 worth of gas here or go in and buy some food with it.”
Him, with eyebrows knit and a lowering brow: “…”
Me: “I don’t have any cash on me. I just loaded this gift card with $8 because I’m almost out of gas, but you can have it.”
Him, clearly annoyed: “What good will $8 do me? That’s not enough to get me home!”
Me, becoming annoyed: “Sir, it’s all I have. Do you want it or not?”
Him, as he snatches the card from my hand then stomps off: “I guess I’ll take it.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this type of attitude when I’m offering assistance, but it’s the first time since I started blogging. Others have protested in the past that I wasn’t offering them enough or that a couple of $5 gift cards wouldn’t help, but nary a one has refused to take what I offer.
I seek no recognition or praise for giving aid. I consider it my duty as a human being. I don’t even care if the recipient doesn’t throw me a simple “Thank you” in return. Considering what I do for a living, (you can check my “About” page if you’re interested) it’s hard enough to maintain my fundamental belief in the goodness and decency of humanity. I strive mightily to hold onto it in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary. I’ll continue to render aid & assistance when able, but damn, I’m getting tired of people asking for help and complaining that it isn’t enough.
Does this ever happen to you?