Last month at the hospital as I was leaving work, a troubled young woman stopped me and asked me if I could help her out. She gave me a fairly plausible story about just getting out of hospital and having no petrol for her car and needing a helping hand. To be honest, she looked like she’d just got out of hospital. She asked if I could spare £8. I wasn’t sure if she was legit or not but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I had just been paid for the month so I gave her the £10 I had in my purse. It felt good to help out someone in need. I’m not a mug and I don’t have gullible written all over my forehead. I just have compassion for people worse off than me. I used to be worse off than me and I know how it feels. Sometimes all you need to make a real difference is for someone to notice and show a little compassion. Sometimes all it takes is a helping hand for a life to be changed forever.
I’ve just seen the same young woman outside the supermarket near my home. She came up to me and as soon as she started talking I remembered her. She gave me the EXACT same story and asked for money again. I didn’t tell her I recognised her. I didn’t tell her she’d already scammed me because it wouldn’t have stopped her. She would have carried on once I’d gone. I’m now 99% certain she’s a junkie and when junkies need a fix, they have no conscience. She’s playing on the compassion of other people to get her next fix. Me pointing it out to her won’t stop her. She doesn’t look any better than she did last month. If anything, she looked worse and her face was all scabby. The sneaky mare! The thing is she DOES need help. She DOES need compassion. But what she doesn’t need is money for drugs.
I don’t mind helping out someone who’s really in need. If I can I will. The real shame of it is that now, because of her, I don’t know how I’ll react the next time someone asks me for help. I think maybe I still have to follow my gut instinct and do what I feel is right at the time. So as I’ve been writing this, the more I think about, the more I don’t regret my decision that day, even though she proved me wrong. Because it’s not about who she is as a drug user and a liar. It’s about who I am as a caring person. I won’t make the right call every time and people will think I’m stupid. My friends on facebook are already cracking jokes and implying I’m a push over. That’s fine, I’d expect no less…. but if just one of my decisions does one day make a real difference to someone’s crappy day then it’ll be worth all the wrong ones. I’d rather do that than ever be a person with no compassion at all. My life was once changed by someone giving me £1.50 to buy a bus ticket.
£1.50. It makes you think twice.