Monday, August 31, 2015

Her Name Is Mary

We walk with blinders on, ignoring the people around us. At the gas station today, there was a woman crying in utter defeat. She wasn't "working the crowd" because she was on the other side of the building where there are no doors. She was crazy skinny and I'm not going to lie, she smelled worse than she looked. She didn't ask me for a thing. I asked her what I could do to help. I can tell she's homeless or near it, and she starts to tell her Story because that's what homeless people do to placate those who only help the "worthy." I don't care if it's true or not, I do not want her to justify her need for my sake. I just told her it was okay, and please, just tell me what she needed.I didn't say it but she didn't have to be pitiful enough or sober enough or smart enough for me to help. She was standing in front of me, and that was enough.

All she asked for was a bag of chips, some salt to help her with the heat. I had originally stopped for a lottery ticket and a candy bar. I got her a big bag of chips, a huge water and a bag of M&Ms because they're portable and have raw calories.

When is the last time your situation was so dire you were prioritizing by raw calories? I thought so.

It's not even that hard to make a huge difference. You just have to look around, get off your high horse, and give a damn about the people standing right in front of you. They don't owe you anything, and you don't owe them. But don't for one second think you should be privy to and judge their Story. Either help them or don't. Live by the principles of doing good or don't. Use your gifts to make things better, that's why you were given gifts. Those who don't have money still have ways to help if they want to.

Serve your fellow man or don't. But don't tell me you can't. I'll call you a liar every time.

This is the one circumstance where I do not want to hear someone's life story. Not because I'm not interested, because it feels like they are sharing their pain in exchange for a few dollars and a little self-satisfied judgment in my look. I want them to know they've been helped because they're human and normal and I'd do it for anyone. I could grab the door for a businesswoman in $500 heels, and not feel I should ask her why she thought carrying so much crap was a good idea. In this case, I spent money I was going to throw away on a lottery ticket that wouldn't win and a candy bar I don't need, and someone has calories to make it until morning.

She says she is leaving town as soon as she gets bus money. I gave her my change and wished her well, and told her of a few places to go in town just in case. It's all you can do, but I would like to think someone would do it for me if I needed. And not because I had suffered enough for them, or lived my life by their still-flawed standards, but because I was a human standing in front of them.

I'm going to write here alongside the Dead Shuffle reboot (WOOHOO). I want to touch on a lot of things, how we view ourselves. The decisions we make when nobody is looking. The lies we tell when someone is. I want to talk about human nature and what we find acceptable. That's a mighty tall task for a zombie story, but that's what I want to do. I don't JUST want to scare people, the zombies can do that without me. I want to make people look at something and wonder what they would do, and what it would say about them.

Mary will be there.  Her story will be one of the best ones I'll write at the very beginning. I'm already working on it.