Now truth is I feel a uncomfortable , I read a post about helping others in need and it got me thinking about an encounter I had not too long ago……..
As it happens, I was approached by a woman, average dressed, fairly casual and clean. She approached me as I was stepping into the salon to get my eyebrows done.
I happened to be in Clapham, London, now Clapham is a affluent area filled with professionals but casual enough that all social classes could walk through unnoticed. Id actually lived there for a few years after having my daughter and must admit it’s my dream home location.
Anyway I’m drifting, back to the point. So this woman approached me and explained her benefits (social security) haven’t been paid… she has 5 kids and no food in her house. She asked if I could spare her some cash to buy food. Now I was in a rush so she said she’d wait until I came out from the salon and she did wait. At this point she’s already tugged at my heart strings so I have it all planned out …..
“I’m going to take her to Sainsbury’s and buy her some food”
Now let’s remember, I am a single mother myself of 3 kids. I work 3 jobs and still fall in that percentage of being worse off financially then if I were to stay home on benefits. But the difference is, if there is anyone who knows how to make money stretch its me! So out of my shopping budget I wanted to buy her family some staple foods. Tuna, bread, milk, sardines, rice few packs of chicken. Enough to make 2 dinners at least.
Well anyway, I leave the salon and tell her of my plans and all of a sudden I see this disappointed look on her face…. She says she can’t carry the shopping and has travelled from very far. She now claims she’s is heavily pregnant with baby number 6 and unable to carry a pack of chicken home…. So I then offer to send her a delivery from Asda of a few bits which she replies ”No her kids are fussy eaters”
She says if I could just give her the money then she can buy bits closer to home, and that she’s not lying or dishonest but would prefer the cash. Again I offered to buy her some chicken at least for todays meal and she replied,
“What is a pack of chicken going to do for me and my kids”
Now, being transparent, In the past I’ve had times where I have struggled to put gas on to stay warm through the winter. I’ve taken cabbage and meats from my mums fridge to feed my kids because money was soo tight. I’m yet to ever need to go to a food bank but to be honest that’s because I hadn’t known where they were during my hardest times. There’s a large percentage of struggling working families living below the poverty line. And this woman says “what is a pack of chicken going to do for me and my kids?!”
Well Lady! It’s going to do a lot more than you standing on the street begging right now! It’s a start! Its a meal right? Well then she says, chicken with what to go with it?
Well lady, I’m no gourmet chef, how about rice or pasta…. I’ll buy you that too…
She refused the offer and says she can’t carry that home. (She didn’t appear pregnant and might I add, she was able bodied”
And at that moment something changed in my heart, it was almost like a cold sadness, because I hear her story but then it dawned on me, yes she must be having a hard time.. .. But I’m just not in the position to hand my money (food from my own kids mouth) to feed hers if she’s unable to see the value in the help I am offering.
It upset me because my gut instinct told me she was being dishonest, I wanted to help her, I truly did but deep down I knew it was best I walked away. And I did, I left her on the side of the street.
It’s been over a few weeks now and it’s still bugging me.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve struggled before and walked away?…..
Maybe it’s the fact she claimed to be desperate but refused my help?…..
Maybe it’s the fact that I saw similarities in our stories?
I don’t know…. It just bugged me…