Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Baby or Meth? You decide.

I was in CVS picking up allergy medication, mouthwash, nail polish and wine. I was eyeing my mouthwash options when I saw someone approach. 

"I know you don't know me from anybody else, but I don't have enough money to buy my baby formula."

I continued looking at mouthwash, sort of wishing the situation away. 

"I don't want money, I, God, this is so embarrassing. I can't believe I am even asking you to do this. Can you buy this formula? I don't get paid until Thursday and I don't know what to do. I don't want to steal it."

Without looking up, "How much is formula?"

"About $16. The baby needs the iron in this particular brand. It is more expensive. I'm really sorry. I can get something else if I need to."

I look up, seeing him for the first time. Tears are in his eyes and he can't make eye contact with me. 

"Come on. I need something from the pharmacy."

He hesitates and looks at me as I walk away, clearly not walking towards the checkout lanes.

"Are you coming? I need something from the pharmacy."

He scurries along behind me, rambling nervously about how he doesn't get paid until Thursday and the government assistance only gives him 8 things of formula a month and it is never enough, but normally he has enough money.

I put up my hand to stop him. "I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing this for your baby." I hand him the formula and tell him to have a good night. He thanks me profusely and I give him a tight smile. 

I was annoyed. I was annoyed that he didn't budget his money better. I was annoyed that I quite possibly just bought someone something they were going to use to cut their meth. I was annoyed that I was the person he walked up to in the pharmacy, although I am sure my clearly frivolous purchases encouraged his approach. 

I did it because the thought of there being a baby sitting in some shit hole apartment with no food broke my heart. Which, I am sure, is part of the scam if it was a scam. 

As he drove off, he honked and thanked me again. With a baby in the backseat of the car and a woman in the passenger seat. My heart swelled. I did the right thing. 

I unlocked my car and a gentleman approached and asked me for money for food. I smiled at him and said, "I will drive down to subway and get you a sandwich if you would like."

To which he replied, "No thanks, I don't like Subway." So be it.

I posted about my first encounter and subsequent purchase on Facebook and how the boy gave me endless shit about it when I got home, saying "You always fall for this shit." 

Most of the comments were positive. One person in particular made some comment asking if the gentleman smoked and agreeing with the boy that I shouldn't have done it. 

The same person posted about a woman who was in the gym trying to lose weight and was bragging to this person how proud she was of herself that she went for a month straight and her husband took her out for pizza as a reward. This person basically called this woman fat and lazy and chided her for eating pizza as a reward. 

I am pretty OK with where I fell tonight. I am pretty OK with the side I was on. Because, you know what, I don't want to go through life not trusting people. Hating people. I'm not stupid, clearly based on the second encounter. I am not irresponsible about giving money to people who beg. I am going to spend my evening thinking that I helped a desperate father. And anybody who wants to can spend their evening thinking I helped some guy cook meth. I don't really care. 

Because in the end, I believe in helping people and giving back. You never know someone else's circumstances, you have never lived in their shoes. 

I left work one day and my gas light was on. I pulled up to the pump and realized I did not have my wallet. I only had enough gas to get back to work. I went back and was lucky enough that I could borrow $10 from petty cash and pay it back the next day. 

What would have happened if I didn't have those circumstances? What would have happened if I worked in an office building, everyone had left and I had no access to money? I would have had to beg people at the gas station to give me money so I could get home. 

Yes, sometimes they are meth heads. But, sometimes they are real people in really bad circumstances that just need that $17 can of formula to get them through. 

3 comments:

J o s e y said...

Oh geezus S - this just made me burst into tears. It's good to have faith in people sometimes. ((HUGS))

Missy K said...

I would have done the same thing as you in both situations but the baby one would have hit me more. I work in Washington, DC so saddly the later is almost an everyday thing around here and it tends to harden your heart a little when you try to help & get an answer like you got with the second guy more often than not.

gisela said...

CV'S not selling Rolling Stone', for now...