Gulf Shores

Gulf Shores
Photographer Patricia Gulick

Saturday, June 27, 2015

6/21/15 RMB Diapers

6/21/15 RMB Diapers

Dear Rita Mae Brown,
Try as I might to avoid the nightly news, the town gossip and signs of despair, they leap out at me. Perhaps I am being cowardice in my avoidance. The meager amount that seeps through is overwhelming sometimes. 

On corner after corner men and women ask for money. I support certain charities, the Salvation Army for one, but as a general rule, I don’t give out money to the passerby. My mother, as a general rule, always did. I don’t know why that is significant, but it seems it is. 

In a grocery store a woman once came up behind me, put a few vegetables on the conveyor belt near my purchases and asked if I’d pay for them. It looked like it would only amount to a few dollars and for some reason I nodded. Everyone needs veggies to stay healthy. That made some sort of difference. 

Yesterday a young man in a fast food restaurant asked me to buy him food. I declined. He was well dressed and appeared to have found a way of obtaining free food, by asking other patrons for it. He didn’t appear homeless, just bored. This is happening more and more often. The young man asked another. The other person bought him an ice cream cone and struck up a conversation with the lad.

I felt the lesser person for not helping him, but saw he needed the conversation more than the cone, something I did not have to give. Conversation does not come easy for me. Between the two of us, the young man and I, he is richer in that department.

Today, while shopping, a young man and woman passed by me briskly, she carried a bag of cooked chicken from the deli, he held a large box of diapers and canter of juice. As they approached the exit an employee ran up, “Don’t go out that door! I’m calling 911!” They went out the door. She placed the call.

I debated on following them and helping to apprehend those who threaten the regular commerce of our society. If they had hurt the woman, I would have. I started to, but only took one step before realizing that it was diapers and food that they had taken, not liquor and cigarettes. Somehow that made a difference.  There was a child someplace out there in need of diapers and someone was hungry enough to steal for food. Maybe they had already asked for money and someone like me had said “no.”

I always feel there is another way, a method of earning one’s keep to cover needs and responsibilities, or a friend to ask for assistance. How can those other methods be made clear? How, as a society, can we help people be self-reliant and aid those who can’t be?

Just wondering,

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