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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Giving the benefit of the doubt...

Yesterday I wrote on my FaceBook page about an incident that happened in the carpark at the medical centre where my doctor 'practises'. I was returning to my car in the below shop level carpark when I was approached by a young woman who wanted $3 off me. She said that she was short by that much to get a prescription filled. I asked my FB friends to guess what I said and did in that situation. One said that I would have refused; one, a former pupil, said she thought that I probably would have given her the money but she wasn't absolutely sure. Everyone else said that I would have given the money over. I did give her the money. In a split second I had toyed with walking up the stairs and accompanying her to the chemist shop, but instead just gave her the money. My parting words to her were that she was to repay me by helping someone else when an opportunity came up.

Now the question is 'Was I a soft touch'? You think about it...hang around a medical centre with a bandage ( unravelling a bit) on a lower arm and a handful of coins. Go up to people and show them the handful of coins and explain that you are short by $3 (she actually asked for 2 first but amended it to 3!) for a prescription that you need filled. What a great scam; what a great way of making money?...perhaps.When I think like that, it  is the part of me influenced by my mother (trust no-one! lol) but the part of me that is influenced by my dad was the path I chose yesterday. Interestingly my mother went to church but my dad eschewed the institution as he felt it was hypocritical of the Vatican to have so much wealth while the parish priest in his little village in Sicily had nothing! (He wasn't that keen on royalty for similar reasons)

My FB friends wrote of other cases in our local suburban area where they have been approached by people wanting money. Quite sad really especially when the comments were made that 2 such people were older women. I don't give to everyone asking for money and I don't even have a set of innate criteria to help me choose whom to give to. It's a bit like the capital punishment debate's better to let some guilty people get off than execute even one innocent person. If you can help do so even if there is a risk you may be being conned.

When DH and I were in London in 2008, we stayed in a hotel in Holland Park. To get to the station we walked past a small supermarket. Outside this supermarket was a lady (40ish) who begged. One day I waited outside the shop while DH popped in to buy some chocolate. This lady pounced...she spoke with quite a posh English accent which did take me back a bit! Soon as I spoke she knew I was an Aussie. She spoke about visits to Australia and seemed to know a bit about us. We spoke for quite a while as there must have been quite a queue at the checkout! A little voice inside my head kept saying...'she's playing you; she's clever; she's been smoking everytime you've walked past so she spends good money on fags'....but guess what? I suddenly found myself opening my purse, grabbing coins (pound coins worth $2.50AUD in 2008) and stuffing them in her 'cup'. I must have given her 6 pounds!!!!! My sweet DH was amused but knew that I was 'soft'.

Closer to home, I collect/buy/ make blankets for the homeless here in Brisbane. The Ecumenical Coffee Brigade distributes blankets, backpacks, hot drinks and food to homeless people in the inner areas of our city. So I take or send the blankets to them. But there are so many charities doing similar work and depending more and more on help from the public as government funding gets slashed. Obviously a lot of parishes do all they can to help.

This throw that I knitted was raffled to raise funds for charity work by our parish
Today I'm going to cut out and start sewing some pillowcases to donate to appeal for flood victims in the Gatton area. A large number of pillows were donated to flood victims but no pillow slips. Requests for handcream and carry bags have also come from the same area. I'll be taking in my contributions next Wednesday to the group 'Sisters of Stitch'

1 comment:

Claud said...

You are more trusting than I am. Just last Saturday, my sister and I were at the grocery store and this woman probably in her 50's, well dressed, with jewelry on and a big set of keys on her hands approached us to ask for $1.00 so she could get something to eat. The woman's appearance and the fact that she was begging didn't add up. I didn't feel threatened rather surprised. I never have any cash on me (bad I know) so I couldn't help her at all.

The only reason I can think of is that she is mentally ill, and that' why she was asking for money when she didn't look like she needed to.