Still Shocked By Myself
A woman rang our doorbell last night.
It’s unusual for the doorbell to ring now, since the pandemic. No one comes to our door and we go to no one else’s. It’s dangerous to go to other people’s homes, and dangerous to let people in who do not live with one.
So, the doorbell rang. It was pretty late in the evening. We were surprised. My daughter and I both went to the door from different parts of the house. She has a friend who rings the doorbell and then goes back to his truck so she will come out and talk to him from a distance. So, I thought it might be him.
Before I got to the door I could see the silhouette of the person at the door. It was a woman, with her hair up in a bun on the crown of her head.
Thinking it was someone my daughter knew, I went back to my reading in our den and my daughter went outside to speak to the woman. Shortly, she came to me and said the woman on the front porch was crying profusely and trying to sell her a knife for $20. My daughter didn’t have any cash at home with her, or I’m sure she would have given it to the woman. She’s like that, thank God.
Being the old cop, I decided I needed to investigate. Suspicion and a jaded outlook have long made me doubt what people say and I have a hard time taking people’s word for things.
The woman was crying and upon seeing me started saying she didn’t mean to cause any trouble and started walking away. Why are people so often afraid of me? All my life people have told me I’m intimidating but I don’t try to be and I’m a 69-year-old woman now, all wrinkled and melted.
She had a decorative knife in a case — some sort of hunting knife or collector item. She would like to sell it, she said, because she’s trying to save money to bury her boyfriend. He had died while she was away, she said. And she found him in bed, lifeless, when she returned. She doesn’t know what happened, but she thinks it may have been a heart attack. I think it may have been Covid, and she’s the second woman I’ve come across lately trying to save money for a burial, but, anyway. (I think the Covid death numbers are way lower than the reality).
The lady had no front teeth at all. Often that means meth use. But my daughter, who knows a lot about that stuff, being a former addict, said she probably just didn’t have enough money for dental care. Could be.
As she was telling the story about her boyfriend who had died, she just kind of trailed off and said that right then she was “just hungry,” and wanted to get something to eat. I asked her where she lived, and she gestured vaguely down the street. It didn’t occur to me at the time that she may be homeless. There’s a convenience store a couple of blocks from us. She said she’d go there.
I went in the house and got $10 and took it out and gave it to her. Ten stupid dollars. I had a twenty and a ten. Why didn’t I give her the twenty dollar bill? Why did I not give her all I had? Getting more cash would have been a matter of an easy trip to the drive-up ATM. And, why, oh why, didn’t I load her down with groceries from my kitchen, which is like a grocery store in itself?
I wasn’t thinking, and in the back of my mind I was wondering if my money was going to go for drugs. What if it did? It is money I can easily spare.
What the hell is wrong with me? I constantly defend the poor, I’m always talking about and writing about more needing to be done for the poor. And a poor woman comes to the door of my big ole house asking for food and I gave her $10.
I give thanks every night before I sleep for my warm bed and food-laden kitchen. I always think about how fortunate I am and how others are much more deserving.
And when I had the chance to prove my sincerity…I blew it. So badly. But it took me half an hour to realize how terrible I had been.
I’m so ashamed. I went back to look for her. I told my daughter if I see her again I’ll do more. I want her to come back. I want a second chance to be a decent human. But then again, I’m not wanting that for the right reason, am I? I’m firstly wanting to redeem myself, and only wanting to help her because it will be salve for my screaming conscience.
I don’t know why I’m writing this. I think because I deserve for people to know what a hypocrite bitch I am. I’ve been a bit of an activist for the poor all my life, and when I had the opportunity to really help someone who needed it, I gave her ten dollars. It makes me taste bile to think about it now.
I hope the Lord forgives me, because I don’t think I’m going to. I will keep watching for her. She indicated she lives nearby.
I just a few days ago wrote a very judgmental piece about the people who attacked the Capitol. I was so angry and hateful. I said the rioters were pieces of shit. And now, God has shown me what a sorry piece of shit I am. He’s blessed me profusely. Then I gave the woman ten measly dollars.
I’m thankful to be so humbled. But, so ashamed. I’ll try to make it right. But the damage is done. I did not help all I could when given the chance. That’s on me — and it will stick with me for a long, long, time.
Sometimes I think we are all Jekyll and Hyde and never know which side is up. I have to adjust my self-image constantly and often, it’s not a pretty adjustment.