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.
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.