Becky Says...

June 2005

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Rainy Tuesday - June 28

In dumb crook news, a man in Raleigh has been arrested for credit card theft and fraud. Seems he had been using the stolen card for several months, but he made one mistake.

He decided he needed to rent a motel room, probably to get in out of the rain. When he was checking in he signed his real name to the register, after tendering the stolen card.

You can guess what happened when the desk clerk noticed the discrepancy. At last report, the arrested one was enjoying the comforts of the Wake County jail.

Operating totally under my own name, I went shopping this afternoon. Even though the day was a rainy one, by the time I got off work and headed to the store the rain had turned to mist, if that much, so I knew I and my groceries could make it home.

A plus to this is that since the stores change specials on Wednesdays, I was in a relatively empty store. I was able to get in an out in short order. The walk home was through very humid air, but at least nothing was falling.

And unlike the man in the above tale, I am enjoying the comforts of home.

An Encounter - June 27

Today, a young woman came up to me as I waited in downtown Chapel Hill for my bus. She had spoken to me at least once before, on another day, but today she sat down on the stone wall beside me.

She complimented my clothes. She asked if I were a student (we have all ages of them here). When I told her I was administrative assistant at a law firm, she asked if our office was like that seen in "The Practice," or that in A Few Good Men. Leaving out the fictional aspects, I told her it wasn't, since the firm didn't do criminal law or litigation. I wondered where the conversation would go from this point.

I didn't have long to wait. The next thing she asked was if she could ask a favor. I figured, since I was smoking, that she would ask for a cigarette. That's a common enough question, and I'm always happy to share because I know there are as many reasons for being cigaretteless at any given moment as there are smokers.

But I was wrong. She said that she was hungry and broke, and asked if I could help her buy lunch. I exaggerated when I said I didn't have any money on me, but in truth I didn't have much cash since I had stopped to buy a couple of things on my way to the bus, and I had need for the small amount I had left. I said I was sorry, she said thanks anyway, and she left me to finish my wait for the bus while she looked elsewhere for lunch help.

Even though I rarely give money to people on the street, had I had more money this time I would have given her at least enough for a fast food meal. I don't know what it was about her that made me feel sorry that I wasn't able to help. I'm sure it had to do with sensing vulnerability in her.

Maybe it was that she reminded me how easily it can happen that one becomes in the sort of need to have to ask strangers on the street to help you buy lunch. Maybe she reminded me of every time in my life when I've felt scared and alone and vulnerable.

I learned a long time ago never to look down on someone in need, no matter the reason for it. I said earlier that I rarely give money to people on the street, but that's because I don't have a lot of money and rarely have much cash with me. It isn't because I think they are doing something wrong in asking; I usually think they're doing the best they can under the circumstances.

I suspect my mother, whose college education during the Depression was in part funded through the kindness of strangers, would haunt me if I were to ever forget that all people have basic human rights and needs, and that I have no right to think I'm better than anyone else.

Perhaps today's encounter with the hungry young woman was designed to be a reminder of the fact that I have work I love; that I have food, shelter, and clothing; and that I have friends and family who would take me in. Perhaps it was a reminder that I should strive to be a good steward of the resources I have.

I came away from it hoping for her sake that she got her immediate need for food met, and that her circumstances improve very soon. And I came away from it with a renewed sense of gratitude for the blessings and luck in my life.

Text © copyright 2000-2005 Becky