Reality Check.

22 Aug

The weekend was really good.  I reconnected with old high school friends, finished my window pane/chicken wire project and made a yummy dessert.  And Sunday when I was on a home project high, I decided to stop by Goodwill just to see what might strike me.  Sean and I had just come from shopping for a Dyson, and although he agreed we need one, we left without it.   Our current vacuum sucks.  It’s fine on the hardwoods, but on the carpet it basically just spins and does absolutely nothing to pick anything up.  So, I was disappointed and whined about it on the way over to Goodwill.

When we got to Goodwill, I searched the home goods for a diamond in the rough and the shoes to find my very own pair of cowboy boots.  No luck on the boots, but I found a vintage typewriter I really wanted.  I envisioned it in my home office (that I don’t have), or as a guest book at our wedding (that already happened).  So even though it was only $12, I have no need for a vintage typewriter.  And that shit is HEAVY.  Anyway, as I was still longing for that Dyson we left behind and the vintage typewriter, I was reminded just how lucky I am to have the frivolous things I already have.  The woman in line in front of us (Sean was buying a book), had to put back a couple of items because she didn’t have enough money for them.  One of the items was a toy for her child.  It was $1.99.  Her child was really disappointed that the toy had to be put back, but the other items she was purchasing such as clothing, were more important.  I desperately wanted to chime in and offer money to buy the child a toy.  But I felt like it might be rude, or that it would be taken the wrong way.  I also didn’t want to embarrass her and make her think that the line behind her was paying attention to what was going on.  Ugh.  So I left and did nothing. 

And like I was being punished, I saw it again!  This time it was 100 times worse.  I’d moved on to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and the lady in front of me was picking up some meds for her daughter.  Her doctor wrote 3 prescriptions, but she only had money for one, so she was trying to decide with the pharmacist which one to buy.  Now, if I was the pharmacist, I would be broke because any time that happened I would just buy the other prescriptions because my heart was literally breaking.  So I’m standing in line behind her, trying to make eye contact with the pharmacist to show that I will just pay for it, but I’m failing at this.  And again, I don’t want to be rude or disrespectful and tell the lady that I’ll pay for it because really I don’t know how people feel about that.  I’m looking at the little girl standing there next to her mom and I feel like the worst person ever.  A couple of hours ago I was whining about not getting a Dyson, and these people have real issues.  It was definitely a reality check for me.  And since I know you’re wondering, I sucked it up and said something.  I thought the worst thing that could happen to me is that she would say no.  So I offered, and she said no.  I don’t regret it though.  Had I walked away and said nothing, I would have felt far worse. 

Has this ever happened to you?

8 Responses to “Reality Check.”

  1. Mina 08/22/2010 at 8:39 pm #

    oh wow that’s definitely a reality check. i would have had the same hesitation to say anything, at the risk of sounding patronizing or undermining. but i do think it was the nice, decent thing to do to offer to pay for the prescription. man, i’m feeling small now about being pissed that i can’t go out for ice cream because it’s raining.

  2. serena @bigapplenosh 08/23/2010 at 10:10 am #

    Wow, that is a reality check, definitely. I probably wouldn’t have been brave enough to say something, so kudos to you. Really puts things in perspective.

  3. brooke @ claremont road 08/23/2010 at 11:36 am #

    I had a similar experience last week, Kelsey. I was driving home from a fun-filled weekend down the shore with my friends and family, and along the side of the road in Philadelphia there was a homeless girl holding a sign. She had her dog with her, and while I see homeless people from time-to-time, something about this girl made me want to cry. She didn’t look totally dirty or on drugs or anything — just like she was tired, maybe had been kicked out of her parents’ house, and needed some help. I don’t always like giving money to homeless people (I’d rather give food), but I would have given her everything in my wallet had I had any cash. I felt like a jerk for not even having any change to give her — I literally had nothing. I cried much of the way home thinking about her. She just looked like someone I could be friends with. If I ever see her again, I hope to have something that I can give her.

    You are very sweet for offering to buy the woman the medication that her daughter needed. Not that you need to do anything else, but have you thought about an anonymous act of kindness? Perhaps the next time you go to the pharmacy, the pharmacist will remember that customer’s name and you can pay for the medication anonymously for her to come pick up. Or just something to think about if you find yourself in a similar situation in the future 🙂

    • kelsey@mintedlife 08/23/2010 at 6:17 pm #

      That is SUCH a good idea! I felt totally depressed when I left and I just wanted to do something but I couldn’t quite figure out what. Thank you so much. And, I’m so sorry to hear your story. It’s funny how certain people can really touch you.

      • brooke @ claremont road 08/23/2010 at 10:28 pm #

        I think people are often too proud (or embarrassed) to accept gifts from strangers when offered directly to them. When a gift or gesture is anonymous, though, it creates a sense of relief — a faith in human kindness that makes the recipient want to pay it forward. And really, those are the gestures that mean the most because (hopefully) the cycle will continue!

  4. TwoWishes Tara 08/23/2010 at 12:37 pm #

    We live in a yuppie-heavy area at the moment, but my old grocery store always had at least one person who had to prioritize her grocery shopping so she could leave out items at the end if the total went past the amount of money/foodstamps on hand. The reminder is always so uncomfortable for the rest of us, and that’s probably exactly what makes it so valuable. Thanks for a post that made me stop and appreciate everything I have today!

    • kelsey@mintedlife 08/23/2010 at 6:18 pm #

      It’s really good to stop and think about it every once in a while. I know I get so caught up in what I’m doing or lusting after that I forget.

  5. Laura McFarlane 08/27/2010 at 4:44 pm #

    Kels, I completely understand where you are coming from. Whenever I find myself whinning about something or feeling down I go to the courthouse (where I work mind you) and just listen to what some people have going on in their lives. It always makes me feel so grateful for what I have in my life and the supportive family and friends I have (which certainly includes you), it’s always a good reality check.

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