I shared an experience on face book today about a lady I assisted this morning and how a can of tomato soup led me to assisting. She was putting things back from her shopping as she only had $13.15 in her purse and a $24 grocery bill, she had been robbed the night before and not only had they taken her money they took her cats food, her only companion in life left without anything to eat on a really cold winters day. I asked for it to be given back and I paid for it with my groceries a total of $45. I then handed her the rest of the money I had in my purse and told her to enjoy it.
They had taken her rent money and she was worried about asking her son who lives interstate to assist her. I talked to her about going to the bank first thing Monday getting an ATM card, as she used a PASSBOOK and setting up a direct debit for the rent so she would never have to withdraw that amount again.
I couldn’t pretend I wasn’t watching what she was doing as we sometimes do at the checkout, ignore the person in front or behind. I don’t approach the checkout on the phone or if I am I will hang up on the person and converse with the person assisting me. I have seen too many young people with limited conversation techniques due to the non-interaction daily with people. So I ventured into this woman’s conversation and her life. I watched that red can get slipped back towards the attendant and I saw her look of sadness as she did it. I did a scan of her box of goods, 4 cans of home brand cat food, home brand kitty litter, 300ml carton of milk and a loaf of bread and I thought WHAT? I stopped her and became involved the young boy was pleased and he gave her back her groceries there was that can x 2, a jar of coffee and some sliced ham, a sliced chicken breast – all her weekends foods.
Mine on the other hand, 2 baguette, 6 rolls, a crunchy loaf, pesto and a couple of packets of chips (luxury foods) nothing necessary here. I could not have ignored the conversation she was stressed and wanting to share her misfortune as well as justify why she was putting items back. I didn’t feel sorry for her I felt angry for her. To be vulnerable, alone, cold and robbed of her safety, security and money is truly awful. They are the targets, our elderly, as with age comes the holding on of independence, isolation from family if they move away from country towns and reliance on limited incomes which someone else feels they have a right to take.
I don’t worry about the money I gave her, I emptied all the notes out of my purse and I told her to enjoy it. I hope she meets up with friends and they go to the local for a drink, or lunch I don’t care. She didn’t want to take it from me as she was worried I was an invalid, I still have a terrible limp from my partially ruptured Achilles and I have to take my moon boot off when I drive. I told her I was fine I had so much in my life, I wish I had the money in my purse to cover her rent. She wanted to hand the $100 back but I refused to accept it, I may see her again, I may not, I don’t care.
We need to stop, look around, get involved for there are many I suspect that go without to keep companion animals fed, hide their own misfortunes. In a wealthy country like Australia we all should have enough. If you can help with a charity to provide for others do. I would only hope if it were my mum, someone like me would not let her walk out of a supermarket unable to have a 99c can of soup for her lunch on a cold wet winters day. If I found out this happened I would never forgive them.