Thursday, December 8, 2011

When Did We All Become So Afraid?

Late one evening last week I stopped at the gas station down the street.  Michael has asked me repeatedly not to go there as there are what he calls some unsavory characters but, on occasion I do go anyway.  As I was walking in I noticed a lady by the door, we exchanged hellos and I went in.  On the way out the lady approached me and introduced herself, her name is Mary Smith and she is 60 years old.  Someone had dropped her off at the gas station and she needed $11 for a cab home, she only had $2 and could I spare some money.

I have to tell you that in the past I have had a very soft spot, if someone asked me for money and I had it, it was theirs.  How many folks at gas stations who need to take a cab home, gas for the car to get to the funeral of a loved one...the list is endless.  Mary touched a place in my heart but how could I tell she really was stuck there?  She certainly looked like a respectable enough person and I was thinking what if I was in that same spot?  Would someone give me money or would they just pass me by without even saying hello?When I gave her a couple of dollars she asked me if I could spare a cigarette so I gave her the rest of my pack and a lighter, Mary of course thanked me and that was all I needed.  It wasn't much and I certainly am not looking for the money back or kudos for helping her.  I think of her all the time though....I wanted to give her a ride to where ever she was headed and thought seriously about doing so.  I wonder what happened to her and know that our paths will probably never pass again.

What worries me is when did we become so afraid of helping someone in need?  Why do most of us turn away and not even acknowledge the person standing there?  Why do we not think "There by the Grace of God go I"?  I often see older folks on the side of the road waiting for the bus and want to stop and ask them if I can give them a lift...I fear they would be just as afraid of me as I am of them.

When the girls were younger and we lived in California I had picked one of them up at the movies late one evening.  At the enterance to the parking lot there was a homeless lady with a sign asking for money,  the girls and I drove home, made her some sandwiches, some tea, grabbed some blankets and drove back to give them to her.  I was shocked when she refused the sandwiches and the tea but took the blankets and then she explained that sometimes people will put things in the food which sadly enough made sense.  So there was this person who couldn't take what we had to offer for fear. 

When did we all become so afraid of one another?


  1. Great question. I was standing with one of the local houseless at an intersection the other day and was amazed by how many people locked their car doors as the pulled up to the lights. Very few gave him a buck.

  2. Something happened along the way where we've all forgotten to give to one another. We've become a ME generation.
    I know many are afraid to give money for fear it will aid a person in their addictions. But, there's always something we can do for another person. It's just taking the time to think about it and do it. And, this time of year, should especially remind us.
    Great post!