What does it take?

(Image source: [here])

The source of this picture has nothing to do with this post. Right now, I want you to look at that. Imagine there’s a coffee shop on one side of this parking lot, a quiet murmur as people go about their Sunday and do whatever it is they do near a coffee shop & a liquor store at 11:00 AM on a Sunday morning.

When I was ordering my coffee today (with my father, out doing grocery shopping), I noticed a woman having trouble outside walking with her rolly basket. You know that feeling you get when you know someone is mentally challenged, has an apparent learning disability… whatever it is that you prefer the name of for political correctness, that. This older woman was the embodiment of that. I couldn’t tell if she was going somewhere or trying to get home. It just bothered me. And at first, I turned away like everyone else in this world does and took my $3.50 latte with a shot of Kahlua flavor & savored that first sip.

My dad and I exited the coffee shop and I stopped. I heard crying. I had almost forgotten about her — and there she was, having problems with her cart… and sobbing profusely. I looked at my dad and he just had this pained face, and he continued to stand there. I know he was trying to figure out something to do, but I couldn’t just stand there. I walked over, asked if she was alright. She wasn’t, her cart was stuck on the curb. When I got closer to her I could tell the clothes she had wasn’t as clean as she would probably want. And her eyes. Her eyes had so much pain in them.

I helped, and she started thanking me, over and over as she stood by her cart in the street, tears now streaming down her face. And I turned back towards my dad who still had his eyes on her. I heard her yell, “excuse me? kind lady?” and asked me if I had a dollar – and I didn’t. I did however have a small handful of change and I offered it to her, and she smiled. Gave her a hug. Told her, “God bless,” and she said the same back… and I went back to my life & back to my day.

For eleven hours this has been sitting on my head and bothering me. This incident brings up a couple really painful points to me, and I could spend the next three hours of my night detailing what they are but everyone would just bring up the point that maybe I could’ve done something more. You could’ve given her a ride, you should have done more…

Travelling through Portland nearly every day for the last year for work has given me the Portland mentality of “look the other way” and I hate that. And when I think about how I could approach not thinking like that… I become stingy. I remember how I need to save for groceries, for my boyfriend’s ticket down here/back home just in case, of how I’m saving for school and oh, don’t forget the $100 a month for a bus pass.

I just have to remember her appreciation for what I could give her. I just have to remember, that even actions will speak louder than a dollar bill ever can. I remember watching her make her way across the parking lot, still having some problems with the cart, but her posture seemed easier. And I would have been back out from the safety of the car to ask her further where she was going & if she needed a lift, if someone else hadn’t walked out of their car with an umbrella and start talking to her. I hope she got to where she was trying to go. I hope her day got brighter from the people she met along the way. I hope she is somewhere safe, and that she has someone to call in case something happens…

I can’t give money to every single person I see struggling, but I can help move their cart off being stuck on the curb…

Fuck, I hate this economy. I miss living in the adolescent ignorance of the world.

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