There is a woman who stands at the corner of a shopping center intersection every day wearing worn clothes and a card board signs that reads “Two Kids, No Job, Please Help.”
My son and I frequent this shopping center because that is where Chick – fil – A, Target, and the grocery store are. (By ‘frequent’ I mean we pretty much live here.) Every time we drive home, there she is, standing on that corner, with long frazzled hair pulled half up, no make-up, and glasses that are too big for her face. She only has the cardboard sign and a sparsely filled shopping cart.
I don’t know how to respond to this woman. There are two sides to my reaction. On the one side, I want to reach out to her and give her money, or food, or a blanket, or a gift card to a store so she can buy what she needs.
On the other hand, I feel angered at her. If you have two children, where are they? She must have some sort of support system to leave her children with, because I know I have never been able to leave my child unsupervised in order to stand on a corner. And she’s very…well proportioned. She must be eating to have such a figure. And if she doesn’t have a job, wouldn’t her time be used more wisely going to businesses and applying, rather than standing a street corner? I have never known anyone to obtain gainful employment from standing on a street corner.
I feel like a horrible person for thinking these things. I feel so conflicted about my view of her as well as my reaction to her.
Her children might be in school during the day while she stands on that corner. Junk food is much cheaper than healthy food, so if she is getting some money and using it to eat McDonald’s, that would explain her figure. And I know that times are tough right now and that jobs are not that attainable, so maybe the best solution she came up with was to stand on that corner.
I spent some time driving by her. I would turn my head and I would go home and think about this woman and her plight and my conflicted emotions. I talked to my sister about it. I wrote about it. I searched for an answer within myself.
Then one day, when we were driving by, I stopped and rolled down my window. I handed the woman a dollar, because I never carry cash and it was all that I had. She touched my hand and said “thank you.” And even though I’m really not terribly religious, I said, “God Bless You” and she smiled and said, “You too.” Then I rolled up my window and drove away as the light turned green.
From the back seat, my little boy said, “You gave that lady money, Mommy?”
“Yes, sweet boy,” I said, “The lady needed some money so I gave her some.”
I could see him thinking. Then, the sweet little voice from the back seat said “Oh, that’s so nice!”
And it was so nice. And I knew that all of my inner conflict was resolved. Because the truth is, I have no idea what her situation is. But she is a woman I see everyday on a corner. And giving her a dollar is really the least I could do. I think next week I will bring her some lunch and leave my self conflict behind.