Thursday, January 21, 2010

Broken.

Yesterday I took my bottles to the recycling center. Finally.

Okay to be fair, I took my SECOND load of bottles to the recycling center. On Tuesday I took my first load. The first load filled up the entire trunk of my car to the very tip-top and I couldn't fit any more in.

In related news? My front porch no longer looks like we're conducting bizarre rainwater experiments.

As I was unloading my bottles I saw a woman walking toward the center. She was probably in her late thirties, but she looked much older. It was a fairly warm day for January but she had on a hat, gloves, and a coat. I wasn't even wearing a light jacket. Most of her teeth were gone and she looked very, very tired.

As I was shutting my trunk she finally made it across the lanes of traffic.

"Ma'am?"

I closed the trunk and turned to look at her.

"You're done unloading, I guess? I was going to see if I could work for you and help you get all your recycling out of your car."

I don't think I said anything. Maybe I just nodded.

"I'm looking for work. For anything. I've got two little girls I have to pick up from school soon and I need to get them something to eat."

"Let me see if I have anything," I told her and went to the front of my car to open the door.

"We're living in the park," she told me. "I just need to get my girls some food."

I never carry cash, but I had a few dollars yesterday. I gave her what I had and she thanked me. She went on her way.

I went on about my way as well, picking up my kids and delivering a bag of old clothes and books to the rescue ministry, but I could never stop thinking about that woman.

Based upon her appearance and her lack of teeth, it's quite likely she's a methhead. I get that. I was born at night, but not last night. I know there are a lot of people out there scamming for money. In fact, this was the second time in less than a week that I've been approached by a beggar on my side of town. The time before this was at the grocery store when a guy about my age asked me if I had anything I could give him to help him get his car running. I literally had fifteen cents in "cash" and I gave it to him and he thanked me as though I had given him a thousand dollars. "It's the thought that counts! God bless you!" he'd said and I walked into the grocery store thinking about him too.

I know a lot of people don't give people money or change either and I really do understand why. But I just kind of figure if people are hard up enough to have to ask for it, then I'm not going to make them feel worse. And if I don't have any money (which is often the case as I really rarely have cash), I don't feel bad about that either. I just remember Jesus helping the beggars and he's pretty cool so I should probably aspire to be more like him, right? Right.

That woman asked and I gave. And now, I can't stop thinking about her.

There's a chance, and it might even be the most minuscule chance in the entire world EVER, but still a chance that she might have been telling the truth.

And there might be two little girls who slept in the park last night.
The park that is literally so bad? I won't go there during the daylight.

That is what's bothering me.

What's bothering me is why I didn't I say, "I'm headed to the rescue ministries resale store and why don't you come over there and they'll get you some help?" Because they would. They would get her off the street and get some help for those girls. They wouldn't have to eat whatever food she could scrape up change for and they'd have a warm bed to sleep in that night. Not the park. Not the bad park.

If they even exist, that is.

That's the rub though, isn't it? I thought all night about calling the non-emergency number for the police and telling them about that woman and asking them to go see, just check, if there were little girls in that park. The thought of little girls being in that park is killing me. I couldn't sleep last night, thinking about them, AND I DON'T EVEN KNOW IF THEY EXIST.

I said a prayer this morning.

I still don't know what to do.

17 comments:

Katy said...

I'd call the Police and have them check it out. It would put your mind at ease and help those two little girls...if they exist. If anything, the girls deserve a chance at a better life.

MadameQueen said...

I always give, too, if I have cash or change on me because someone once said "what if that's Jesus in disguise and you didn't help him?" I know that's not likely, but what if it was? I want to try to be more like Jesus too.

You know what, just go ahead and call the police. Just say "I know I'm probably a sucker, but I won't forgive myself if I don't check." If it turns out it was a scam, then at least you tried and you did the right thing. You are doing something good, even if the people aren't real.

Sharon said...

I'd call the rescue ministries and ask them what to do.

Anonymous said...

OK, if you didn't sleep last night I'd recommend calling the police non-emergency number. Then you've done what you could...

Allison

Kellie said...

I get it. I've had it happen to me and it hurts your damn heart SO bad. My husband doesn't buy into people and stories like that--which pisses me off, because I do!!

If it were me, I'd call the non-emergency line and ask that they check. Will they? I don't know. Maybe. But, at least then you will know you tried to do a little bit more.

I am Trish Marie said...

It's horrible. But I hate that I also doubt everyone's story. When I was younger, high school maybe, a man stood with his young children at an intersection near our neighborhood begging for money. We gave money every time we drove by. My mom brought clothes for the kids. Food. Then? A news story busted him. He was living in a nice three bedroom apartment. He drove a three year old car. He had a savings account. He had quit his job, because begging was more profitable. I have been hesitant to give anything since that day. And that, too, is horrible.

diane rene said...

If it were me, I would call. the police may be able to tell you that the woman was lying, OR they may find a woman and her girls suffering from the cold january night. either way, what have you lost? a two minute phone call in exchange for a slightly lighter heart and a little peace to sleep in? well worth it, IMO.
I am like you, I give whatever I have, which usually isn't much. I have dumped my car's ashtray (full of change) into their hands more than once. I am often told that they are probably lying or only going to use the money for alcohol, and I tell them "that's okay". If alcohol is what will keep them warm on the streets tonight, then good. but if they really have a kid they need to feed, then I'm glad I was able to help.
do what makes YOUR heart feel better <3

M said...

I love your heart. <3

elle said...

I always carry a few $5 gift cards to the local grocery store. Sure, they could buy beer, but who am I to judge? This way I can help, don't have to give then cash, and can be ready when they ask me to help them.

Chrissy said...

I have to agree with other commenters. Maybe just a simple call to the police. At that point, you'd know you did what you could. I mean, there really isn't much more you can do.

But I appreciate that you want to.

insomniac ellen said...

oh steph--- call the police. they should check this out. NO ONE should have to sleep in the park, but especially if these littel girls do exist. and if their mom is a methhead, then they all need help.

i'll keep you and them in my thoughts.

Jenski, PhD said...

You're a good person. Did you end up contacting someone about the woman and (maybe) girls?

I love the idea above to carry some small amount gift cards to the grocery store!

NinjaMom said...

I'm going to break with the other commenters. :) I grew up in Vancouver, Canada which is a major port for heroin entering N America. I grew up being approached by beggars and junkies. I've seen people crying and pleading for help, only to see them an hour later on another block laughing and joking with their friends as they share a bottle of something.

I seriously doubt that those girls exist. If you want to put your mind at rest, get Jason to go with you to the park and check it out, or mention it to the rescue ministry. They'll likely know more about it than you will.

Also, I LOVE the idea of $5 gift cards to grocery stores (although someone might turn around and sell them for $2). And I'm not a total bitch, I have given money and food to people on the street. I mean, when someone begs for a bite of the sandwich that you're eating.... that's real.

You have such a good heart. There are just so many people out there who want to take advantage of those who care. :/

Angie said...

Mark was approached at the BK that's very near you the other day. The guy just asked for a meal. .. so Mark took him inside and bought him (and his brother) a couple of meals. We both agreed that it was better to get them some actual food, if indeed they were hungry.

It's difficult. . . knowing when to be suspicious, and when to be generous.

For what its worth, I think you did the right thing. :)

Priscilla said...

I give. I give money to the bums, I give to the yucks hanging out at the freeway offramp. I give to the old man with one eye and smells like booze and pee. I don't care what they do with it. If I have a little, I give it. I go home to my nice warm home and cook a nice hot meal and soak in a nice hot tub. They, will not be able to do that, maybe never. I sleep at night knowing I did something to ease their life, even if it's just a little. And you know, I believe I'm answering someones prayers.

Also, my son is one of them most of the time. Give. You never know who's son/daughter you're blessing.

Empresschrys said...

I give whenever I can. I once pulled off the road and went into the local Walmart to buy a $50 giftcard for a man standing on the edge of the Walmart parking lot. His sign asked for food for his dog and cat who were sitting there with him, not for himself, he asked for the pets. The money was supposed to go towards a Christmas present for my sister but i spent it on him instead. I did a gift card because then he could shop on his own and pick out his pets supplies and some food for himself just like anyone else. A small bit of "normalcy" can go a long way too.

I would call The Rescue Ministry or the police non-emergency and ask them to look into the existence of those girls. If nothing else you will get peace of mind.

thedomesticfringe said...

It's nice to know that somebody still cares about others, no matter their situation.

-FringeGirl