I’ll tell you this story before I tell you the other one.
A while back someone on my Facebook feed posted a link to one of those “What Would You Do?” videos. It was a show that staged moral dilemmas for people and filmed them with hidden cameras. I meant to click on the link, but the feed got away from me. And yet I’d been thinking about it for a while. The dilemma presented was for a woman (actress) using food stamps – probably an EBT card these days – to buy groceries and falling short. I didn’t see the video, but I imagine that she was agonizing loudly enough for bystanders to hear. Another actress was there to complain about poor people. And then it showed how different people reacted. I still haven’t seen that video, so I don’t know its findings. It’s only the situation that I find intriguing, not the outcome.
Not too long ago I somehow got into a conversation with a coworker about that video. I told her that I tend to thoroughly tune out the world when I’m in public. (That’s an introvert trick, folks.) I’ve probably been in line many times behind people using food stamps/EBT at the market, and didn’t know it. And if they’d had trouble paying for their groceries, they weren’t loud enough about it to get my attention. And yes, it turns out that there are people who scrutinize the content of other people’s shopping carts and see how it’s being paid for. I only pay attention to whether I can start putting my stuff on the conveyor belt. I don’t care what you have on it or how you pay for it.
Back to my conversation. My coworker and I agreed that we’d like to believe that we would step up and help someone in that same situation. I don’t know how far she’d go, but depending on the situation, I believed that I may go as far as buying the person’s groceries outright. Couple of reasons: Because I CAN.
Another reason is that the person would’ve been holding up my line. I hate that. The faster their bill is paid, the sooner I get my own Stuff home.
Okay, to my point.
I had lunch last Sunday with Mom and Auntie last Sunday a bit away from where I live. On a whim I decided to shop at the Ralph’s up the street rather than go home and use the one close to me. Besides, this Ralph’s is bigger.
I didn’t have a LOT of stuff in my cart. I was in the juice aisle, and then heard someone speaking to me. It was a young Mexican woman, holding two very large packs of diapers and formula. Her toddler son was lingering nearby. Basically, she was asking for money to buy that stuff due to a lost job and her baby needing diapers. I said, “I only have a dollar,” which was true. I gave her the dollar, but she lingered and kept lamenting having no diapers for “the baby.” I glanced at her hand, which had my dollar, and one other, and that was it.
Good Samaritan, or Idiot?
Acknowledged: There are many, many people all over the world that grift for a living. And in southern California, a very large portion of people hate Mexicans. It’s why I called out that the woman was Mexican. Let me rephrase that: a very large portion of people here think the worst of Mexicans. Coming here illegally, stealing jobs, making billions of babies per person, and/or not even trying to work and just living off welfare. My mother is one of those people. I won’t tell her this story because of it.
I made my decision with both eyes open, and because of how the world is, can’t feel bad or good about it.
I said to her, “I’ll just buy those for you.” We walked to an express lane. I wasn’t done with my own shopping, so I put my cart aside. She put her stuff on and kept saying “God bless you” to me. She also asked if I have children. “No.” More “bless you’s.”
The total bill was… rather more than I expected. But the deed was done. I kept my receipt and gave her the string of coupons that came with the purchase. They were very likely for baby stuff. I said, “Take care,” and left quickly.
Now… there’s a very good chance that I was scammed. I accept that. I’m not omniscient, so I can’t say that I wasn’t, either. But if the woman had just been there to collect money, only to put the baby stuff back on the shelf and leave after collecting enough, well… she got stuck with a buttload of baby stuff instead. Oh, and my dollar. I never did get that back. 😦
Here’s that video, if you’re interested.