I was at the Hasty Market below my building for an emergency Tide run yesterday when I encountered the woman with no fingers. I ignored her on my way to the back aisle where I know the laundry detergent rests flanked by cat litter and dish soap, staring into over-priced Tropicana juices (often leaking ever so slightly).
I grabbed the little red bottle and checked that it was not the extra bleach version or some strange variation, and headed towards the cash register. All of a sudden, as I placed the liquid detergent on the counter, a bunch of finger stubs invaded my field of vision. It was then that I first actually paid attention.
Though I had some trouble understanding her accent, I could make out the words “two dollars, two dollars.” It appeared she was demanding that I give her $2 of my change. When I told her (quite truthfully) that I didn’t have a job that paid, she asked for a dollar instead.When I refused again, she left in disgust.
I don’t know whether I was right or wrong to refuse her. The poor woman obviously couldn’t work due to her mutilated hands. But my defense naturally rise when someone demands anything of me, and that’s the real reason I said no.
I don’t know if I did the right thing. But my neighbourhood is cluttered with people just like her: pregnant, mutilated, with gaping holes in their smiles. Where do you draw the line? How do you decide who is worthy of charity and who isn’t? Especially when like me you are already, for bank account purposes, unemployed?