Friday, June 01, 2007

A Hearty Breakfast

9:15 a.m. I am just getting my daily fix of coffee and croissant. I catch an old lady talking to a young girl from the corner of my eye but turn to pay for my stuff. Suddenly, a voice behinds me says: “Do you mind getting these things for me?” It was the old lady. She didn’t look homeless and was holding a glass of orange juice and a bowl of hard boiled eggs. “I’ve stopped receiving my disability checks,” she explains. I couldn’t see any form of disability on her. “It would be so kind of you,” gently – no, liberally – spooning out the sucker in me. Obviously, the young girl she had spoken to earlier had not been so kind. I offer to get the juice. “I have a weak heart, I need the eggs,” she whines. “Eggs are not good for your heart,” I reply and fish out a little more than 3 bucks for the juice. For that much money, she could’ve got a gallon of juice at the supermarket. Anyway, I request the nice lady at the counter to give her the eggs for free and she agrees. A brief thanks from the old lady and I dashed off. It’s probably better to get food/drink for someone than randomly shelling out cash, but I wonder if the word “sucker” is written all over my face? I really didn’t mind helping her, but someone who needs a good meal and a disability check is the homeless man with elephantiasis near 17th and K. He can barely walk to the nearest coffee shop.

11 comments:

Neha Choudhari said...

I have wondered if sucker is written on my times many many times.

Then I just say as long as I am in a position to give and not to ask, I should give :)

Rohini said...

My mom always used to say that we perpetuate begging by giving to beggars. Atleast in India, it seems that might be right - there was a story the other day about a beggar who put his son through college on his earnings... I try to carry small packets of glucose biscuits in my car to give the kids at the traffic lights. That way atleast they are getting something to eat rather than money that will most likely be confiscated by a parent or beggar king...

Mandira said...

I've had people come up to ask for money for train tickets. As long as it is a couple of dollars and the person looks in need I don't mind... but I've also wondered about being a sucker!

Mosilager said...

Hey that's your good deed for the week so no problems. You won't miss the 3 bucks and it might have made a huge difference to the lady. Just check the store for her presence before going in next time ;)

Alpana said...

Sad, bad world we live in...can't be kind without thinking we have been fooled, no? True for all of us...so conditioned to believe the worst of everyone and be suspicious etc

Shilpa said...

nc: to each their own, but i just like to know how my money is going to be used! not on some horrible addiction for sure.

rohini: yeah the beggar industry in bombay is supposed to be quite huge... from what i read in "Fine Balance" and "Maximum City." the homeless shelters in the U.S. have pretty much everything - soup kitchens, old clothes and a temp. place to stay - but you need to meet a certain "criteria" to be eligible for those things, i believe. but there are always people asking for spare change.. for whatever reason! and i agree, i'd rather buy them a meal than dole out notes.

mandira: good to see you here! i know, there's always that nagging feeling at the back of your mind. Just try to think that maybe someday you might need help and some nice stranger will do a good deed ala "Pay it Forward." :)

mosilager: good deed indeed! do i really sound like i'm cribbing about helping her out?? sorry it came across that way.. to put in perspective, someone told me (right after this incident) the word gullible was written on the ceiling above me. guess what i did? i looked up. :D

alpana: excuse the morality binge, but i'd like to believe we're all trying to "be good" and "do good" every day... in spite of the conditioning... it's not so bad na. btw, please update ur blog!!!!

Mosilager said...

ah ok i did get the impression that you were unhappy about helping her out. probably should have thought about it more before commenting.

Shilpa said...

don't be silly mosil.. that's what this forum is for.. write what pops into your head first and then we discuss!

Mosilager said...

he he that's led to some of the biggest flame wars ever. i think i started something on a rediff blog when I said that all places of worship should be converted into schools and universities :)

shilpa said...

good job! that's one to fan the flames from the VHP types! :) but don't some places of worship already have schools inside them or affiliated to them?

Mosilager said...

problem with those is that they teach religion along with everything else - i'd rather they taught critical thinking and let the students come to their own conclusions about religion.