She was a big, disheveled, super-friendly and warm woman sitting on her wheeled walker outside Wegmans who said Hi! as I walked by. I stopped.
Can I ask you a question? she said. You see, she had to catch her bus – that one across the parking lot - she’d missed one and she was freezing, but the dog had eaten her money or something and she needed $3.
How do I know you’re on the up and up? I asked. She replied she guessed I didn’t but grab her hand and just feel cold she is. ‘Well, I can spare $3,’ I thought and handed it over.
I also gave her a card. ‘Just so you know,’ I said. ‘Do with it what you will on your own time.’
On seeing the card, she lit up. Do I know so-and-so? What about what’s-his-face? How is this one doing and that one and a third one? She was raised a Witness and went to the Hall (the same Hall I had gone to, though not at the same time) But she had not taken hold.
'I went to prison for a few years then I got hit by a car and then I went into a coma. They were going to pull the plug on me but someone said ‘no.’ She related all this in the most happy tone you can imagine, as though describing her day at the amusement park. Her appearance suggested that everything she said was true. She had every ‘right’ to be bitter and sullen but she wasn’t – a huge plus in my book. I’ve seen white people (and black) carry on and on with far less hardship.
‘I’m surprised that Wegmans didn’t chase her away,’ my daughter said. But had they tried it on my watch, I would have chased them away. As we chatted, a woman left the store and handed her three more dollars. ‘I said I would once I got change.’ ‘See? Now you can go home and come again tomorrow,’ I told her brightly.
I picked up some items inside and met her again just outside the door. A man was giving her money. ‘Yeah, they get awfully good at that,’ my daughter said, who does her ministry in the city and isn’t put out by such goings on at all. After all, it must be put in the context of a worldwide financial system which is itself a scam. ‘That’s why I love you, Dad,’ she said. ‘You never judge.’
Without the slightest encouragement on my part, she had brightly said: “Maybe you could stop by my place and take me to meetings again!” And maybe I can! Or maybe I’ll pass her story along to the aunt she mentioned, who would know the story better than anyone.
My daughter told me of an elder (an old one) who had run across a homeless man who said he was disfellowshipped. The brother went farther than most and cupped the back of the guy’s head – you never know for sure how clean they are and where they’ve been sleeping. ‘Why don’t you come home? We’re waiting for you.’ The fellow did come home, got his act together, and is active with a congregation today.
Look, don’t try to con us. Jehovah’s Witnesses are more street-savvy than most. We work in all areas door-to-door, after all. We weren’t born yesterday. But we will make eye contact, and in the event we do give money, we will not insist upon letting go of it before you touch it.
photo: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons
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