Tuesday, January 27, 2009
"Disturbing but Real"
This past Sat. night, after a dinner with the family at Cracker Barrell(one of my favorite restaurants by the way...good Southern food), we decided to go to Wal-mart. I usually go there on Wed. mornings after class, since it is much less crowded then, but we were all bored and the kids wanted to look at toys, so we said "what the heck, lets go". Since the town we live in is relatively small, that is the thing to do on Fri. and Sat. nights after dinner for alot of families, so it is usually packed, that is why I normally try to avoid it then...lol. Anyhoo, so here it is about 9 p.m. and we are headed there. As we pulled in the parking lot, there is the Wal-mart gas station on the right hand side and a small shopping plaza with about ten stores and Little Caesars pizza. My husband decided to go ahead and get gas since it was a good price...lol and we were right there. So there in between the parking lot and the gas station, on the curb sits a family...a man, a woman, and two small children both probably under the age of 3. The family looked really poor and the kids were very dirty and not well dressed at all for the cold weather out. Now to me this was very disturbing. As we sat, while my husband pumped gas, I watched in dismay and a knot filled my stomach. I'm not really sure why it bothered me so much, I mean it is not uncommon to see homeless men/women from time to time on the interstate exits or in front of stores holding signs, but to see an entire family, I've never seen, especially with two small children out in the cold sitting on the curb. It was very sad. So when my husband got back in the truck, I showed him and said to him, "lets see if they are broke down...its the least we can do", and he agreed. So we pulled over to that side of the parking lot and he rolled his window down and asked them if they were stranded? The man said no, that they did not own a vehicle but that the kids were hungry, and could we spare some money to get them some food, he said he wasn't worried about him or his wife, just the kids, and he did not offer any more information than that. I looked at my husband and shook my head, and he handed them $7, which was all the cash we had left on us at the time. The man said Thank You, and that was that. The woman never even really looked up at us which I kinda thought was due to shame at the time. We then pulled away and proceeded to head closer to Wal-mart and parked. I felt really good about the situation, and hoped they would buy those kids some food with the money, but all I could do was hope. So we ended up in Wal-mart for the next two hours, it was nearly 11 p.m. when we checked out. So as we were coming out, my husband decides to get a drink from the coke machine and the kids wanted to ride the merry go round which is right there at the entrance. As I am standing there with them, I see the same lady from earlier walking around in the parking lot towards the front of the store. The ride ends and we proceed to walk to our vehicle, as we are doing this, she is walking towards us. She walks up to us and starts telling us how her vehicle is broke down, that is is out of gas and her older daughter and two small children are stranded in it right up the road, she wanted to know if we could spare a few dollars for gas? At this moment, it is just blowing my mind, I'm thinking to myself, does she not recognize us from earlier, we just gave them money. So I could not just let it go, and I said to her, ma'am...we just gave you all money about 2 hours ago and your husband said that you all had no vehicle. She just put her head down and said o.k., thank you and walked the other way. At this moment, I am just literally amazed. We got in our vehicle and I told my husband, lets just sit here a few minutes and see where she goes and what she does, so we did. We sat there for about 15 min, while the kids watched a DVD to keep them occupied. I didn't really want to have to explain in detail what we were doing and why, they are still young and probably wouldn't understand. As we now sit and watched this lady walk around the parking lot walking up to different people as they were going in and out of the store asking them for money. Some people looked to just be ignoring her, but some on the other hand, well many in fact, were reaching in their pockets and purses to give her money. About 15 or so minutes passed and we seen an older white van pulling up towards her, and she got in. They came up the next aisle in front of where we were parked and we could see that it was indeed the same man too. I just looked at my husband and said, "so they did have a vehicle". I guess they were just trying to get as much money as possible, any way possible. But to use kids in the scenario was very disturbing to say the least. I still didn't regret giving them the money though, because of the children involved. It is a fact I'm sure, that this family is definitely living in poverty but the reasons why are unknown. It makes me wonder, are the parents alcoholics or drug users? Do they have mental issues? Do they have little or no education and can't get jobs? Or....are they just scam artists that choose not to work? I will never know the answer to that question. All I can say is that is is a real fact of life. Very sad but true. There are many homeless people around the world and I am sure they all have very different stories of why their lives turned out that way. My heart goes out to anyone that has no choice in the matter due to upbringing in life, mental or physical abuse, mental illness, etc. but the ones that choose to live that way, because they are sorry and just want pity and handouts from everyone....well shame on them.