Jan 27 2009

Powerless

Last weekend, John, Cole, and I went to the closest larger town/city (which is about 1.5 hours away) to do our Costco, Target, and Trader Joe’s shopping. It’s a trip that we make maybe once every other month or so.

Understand that this town/city happens to be in one of the hardest-hit regions of California when it comes to job losses and foreclosures. But still, when that man approached me in the Target parking lot asking for money so that he and his wife and child, a girl- 8 years old- could get a hotel room for the night because he had lost his job and his home, well… I was caught totally off-guard.

I told him the truth, that I had no cash on me. Quite honestly- I had about 15 cents in my pocket and maybe another quarter in the car, and I sincerely doubted that would help him any. I’m sure he didn’t believe me, but he didn’t press and he walked off across the parking lot with another target in sight.

I looked at what I had just purchased in Target- some nursing bras, a couple of replacement bowls (why are we constantly breaking bowls?!), two cheap but adorable baby sleepers, a packet of Obama trading cards (a silly, “can you believe this product exists?” gift for my husband), and a packet of Raisinets as a very special treat for Cole- and felt frivolous and silly. And then I gave my son an extra-big hug and breathed in the smell of his baby neck while trying not to cry.

There was nothing I felt like I could do. I cuoldn’t give this man my credit card and tell him to send it back when he was done. I don’t know the area well enough to have been able to suggest a good shelter or some other organization that could help. I felt powerless.

But I want to know what you think. Is there something I could have done that I don’t see? What would you have done?