Saturday, August 27, 2011

Where I Ramble Then Get To the Point

Every once in awhile I turn on the news or catch an article on a news affiliate's site about an act of charity. A movement of some sorts you might say. Maybe it's the latest attempt at getting people to 'pay it forward' or there's been a devastating act of nature somewhere and people are displaced and in need of our help. This post is not meant in any way to detract from these calls to action. Helping when your help is needed is never a bad thing. As our country is in the sights of yet another natural disaster, I'm sure we'll be called to action again, and it is my hope that anyone with the ability to do so will lend a hand where possible. But that isn't what this is about either.

This morning I woke up later than usual for a Saturday. It was nearly 9 AM and I stretched lazily in my bed wondering how much work it would take to get presentable for a bank run and grocery shopping. I trudged to the bathroom, ran through the daily hygiene rituals, fixed my face, fixed my hair, picked out my cutest shoes, trendiest jeans, sporty top, and kick ass shades and headed for the door. You never know who you might run into at the store, right? It could be Mr. Right... or even more important... someone you've not seen in years. I'd rather look like hell when I meet Mr. Right than if I run into someone from 5 years ago that looks like they haven't aged a day. 

Being a natural slug, I am required to start nearly every day with an energy drink or at the very least a piping hot cup of strong coffee. When I pull out of the driveway in the mornings, my car instinctively moves in the direction of the nearest gas station where my drug of choice can be purchased without scorn. Convenience stores are the crack houses of the caffeine addict's world. If there were a way to just invite my friends over to the local and sit around the Monster cooler with an IV stuck in my vein connected to a giant Monster lo-carb  and just chill, I'd have at least one party there. 

Today was no different. I dropped by the Get N' Go to get some "go" and stood a bit impatiently in line to pay. At the counter stood a boy no more than 9 or 10. It's hard to be sure because he stood fairly tall, but his limbs were so incredibly thin. One hand clutched a handful of change. The other hand held a pint of milk. He handed both to the cashier and came up a few cents short of the total. The cashier smiled and said, "Don't worry... I've got it." and paid the rest out of a small jar behind the counter. The boy simply stood there, looking a bit dazed. It wasn't as if he didn't understand what had just happened, it was more than that. 

The cashier looked a bit concerned and asked if he was alright. He turned a bit to walk away and then stopped and looked dazed. He turned back to her and said, "I wanted this milk so I pedaled up here really fast on my bike and I'm just tired now." The lady smiled and motioned to the seating area for the little take out restaurant attached to the store, "Why don't you go sit down and rest a minute?" she said. And he walked shakily over to a booth and sat down. He did not open the milk. 

Now I don't mean to paint all children of the US with the same brush, but given what I know of my own children and their friends over the years I know that the boy was not there to get milk because of all the things he could crave at (now) 10 AM he craved a pint of 2%. With the price of milk these days he could have gotten a soda or a candy bar or maybe a juice and a snack. He was getting milk because he NEEDED milk or someone at home NEEDED milk. Judging by his size and his lack of energy he needed more than milk. 

I watched him sitting at the table while he stared blankly at the milk. He didn't look up to meet anyone's eyes. He didn't look around at everything around him. He just stared at the little waxy carton of liquid in front of him. As I approached the counter to pay for my drinks, I looked at the display of foods at the front. 'Fresh Fruit $.79 Your Choice' read one. I looked at the checker and then to the boy and back. 

"Please add two pieces of fruit to my bill and when he gets ready to go, tell him to pick out a couple of pieces." I said. She smiled sadly and replied, "Breaks my heart." "Mine too." I replied and walked out of the store with tears about to spill down my cheeks. I remember being poor. When someone did something nice for me it was almost as humiliating as it was welcome. We are programmed to feel we are inadequate when we are unable to meet our own needs. I wasn't going to put the kid through that. Better to be gone when he picked out his fruit.  

I do my best to put sadness behind me as quickly as I can when these things happen in public. I try to smile at everyone that meets my eyes on any given day. That's exactly what I did... or tried to do. I spent the rest of my outing deciding on which noodle cups to buy, whether to buy a half gallon of skim or a full, did I need cereal, Chobani or Fage, are there enough chicken breasts at home or should I get more, brown and wild or white rice... really mundane and unimportant things. 

Pushing the cart to the car I thought about what to write today. I think we've sufficiently covered my excess of vacation and my aversion to onion for the week. Sex just isn't on my mind so we can skip that. I've read 4 great books this week, but who wants a book review? Then it hit me... Holy shit! How about I write about something that matters? 

I've volunteered at The Banquet (a local soup kitchen), participated in food drives, wrote checks for good causes, and been an active chair for company United Way campaigns. None of those felt as fulfilling as buying two pieces of fruit for a boy at a gas station. 

It is never a child's fault that there isn't food on the table. It's never a child's fault that Mom and Dad can't afford school supplies. When the child is wearing pants that are too short and shoes with a hole in them, the child isn't the one to blame. We all know this. 

My goal is always to make people smile. I try to write something warm or fun into most pieces. If nothing else I hope someone can relate and maybe feel less alone, weird, goofy, or whatever. Today, I hope that I can inspire anyone who reads this to reach out. Outside of the charities you already support, aside from the community actions you participate in.... help a child. 






12 comments:

♥●• Izdiher·•●♥ said...

Its kool .

Best of luck

I am so impressed by your thought and way of writing.

Definitely following you .
Follow me back .

DeanD said...

Angie, Angie you are such a good person. But I know you empathize. Perhaps thats why more people aren't like you, they just havent been through enough shit to appreciate where they are as opposed to where they came from.

Dean
http://leftoastguy.com

Tara said...

This makes me incredibly sad. That a child, who should be full of energy and happy not have to know what it feels like to be exhausted from life, is so defeated. And who knows? Maybe that kid's parent/parents are doing the best they can and it's just not enough, or maybe they aren't doing enough at all...either way, he's suffering the repercussions of his situation. It's heartbreaking because you know that when you do something for others, charity work or whatever, it may be helping them in that moment, but soon it won't be enough anymore and the problem arises once again. There is no good answer for any of this, only comfort in knowing that people such as yourself can see the problem and are doing what they can to at least alleviate it.

Angie said...

♥●• Izdiher·•●♥ Thanks for the follow! I'll be over to check your site out momentarily and happy Ramadan!

Dean,
~hugs~ that was sweet. I would like to think everyone can think of a time when they were less fortunate and somehow see it in others. I'm no different than the rest of the world.

Tara,
I completely feel what you just said there. I often hear "Well if we just keep helping them where does it stop? When do they start helping themselves?" I suppose that is why even when I get angry at people who exist on the welfare I just can't help but hurt when I see a child suffering. It took some strength not to wait in the parking lot and follow the kid home to see how he lived. :(

opticynicism said...

Love the post and I've been clicking around checking out some of the other ones as well. Really glad you stopped by my blog today and left a comment because it led me back here. I'll be coming back regularly and recommending others do as well! Another great add to my blogroll!

Crystal said...

For me the children's charities are the best. Yet knowing that there are good people out there that look beyond the charity and right into the heart of the child makes the world smile brighter. That person was so you today!!

Heather said...

Great post, Angie.

When you mention it never being a child's fault when they go without - it reminded me of something that had me steaming last week. In my son's 6th grade math class everyone needed to buy a specific notebook, and if they didn't the teacher provided it. If the student didn't or couldn't bring one to "pay her back" by Friday they got a detention. One of my son's friends said his mom didn't have any money to buy one so he had to do detention and miss their first dance. Broke my heart - I sent an extra notebook to Ms. Z for "any student who hadn't turned one in." Pretty careless of a teacher in my opinion. (The notebooks were less than $2)

I love how you helped the boy but didn't humiliate him. I've been there too, being poor is much more than not having what you need - it's a burden that is heavy, especially for children.

♥●• Izdiher·•●♥ said...

Thanks,Angie.

Steve Bailey said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more! That's what blogging is to me. A way to make some peoples day better for just a moment. Hopeful laugh (and occasionally cringe) each time they click on my page. Your post did that for me.

Azra said...

Angie I can relate to everything in this post. Having lived in a first world country, and now living in a third world country, I see poverty daily. And it's so easy for people to become complacent or desensitized by looking at it but I always take it to heart because I remember what it was like not to have anything. I too do what I can to put a smile on someones face... sometimes that happens with a smile, or a "hello" or a generous tip... but it rarely costs anything to make someone happy, even if it's just for a moment.

Angie said...

opticynicism,
Thanks for dropping by! I enjoyed your site as well and hope to see you around more!

Crystal,
Children's charities ARE the best. When you see a child's eyes light up when before there was nothing but defeat it's the absolute best. It's a perfect example of giving being it's own reward.

Heather,
That sort of practice is absolutely sickening! I realize teacher's don't make enough to provide supplies for the children, but then perhaps they should lesson plan their way out of using a particular item or ask parents to fight for higher pay for those extra expenses. It should NEVER be an expense passed on to a child resulting in punishment. That is just disgusting. Thank YOU for sending in an extra.

Steve,
You ALWAYS give me a laugh... or at the very least make me think harder about how insane you actually are. See? You do your job!

Angie said...

Azra,
You just made ME smile! :) You rock!

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