Rough Breaks

I walked into a convenience store today on Bunker Hill during my lunch break to buy a stamp.  I finished the  .44 cent transaction and while removing the sticky backing from the stamp,  a man walked in and gently implored the help of the two people behind the counter.

I’m hoping you can help me, I’ve just had the worst holiday of my life.  I don’t want to be a burden.  I’d like to offer my help, I want to work for you and get paid. I’ll do whatever you need.  Let me just share with you what happened…he begins.

I live in Temecula and came up to L.A. a few days ago to spend the holiday with friends.  I had a seizure while driving and crashed my car.  I’ve got a 3 pm bus back to Temecula that’s going to cost me $29 and all I’ve got is $23.  I’ve got the doctor’s paperwork right here.  I’ll do anything…clean, sort, load.  I just need a few extra bucks to get my ticket.  You’re welcome to look at this paperwork.  I’ve been to a few businesses already around here and haven’t been able to work anything out. I  don’t need much…just the remaining bus fare.  

I purposely took a long time to put the stamp on the envelope while I listened to his story.  It was like watching a film unravel before my eyes.  Was he for real?  I was so intrigued…the man was hardly asking for any money- $6- and yet he was willing to work for it.  Documentation was in hand.  I didn’t get it.  Why didn’t he just beg on the corner?  Did he really think people would put him to work?  And where were his local friends?

I was perplexed and found myself in a moral dilemma.  To believe or not believe?  I was relieved not to be the woman behind the counter, the person in the position to respond. And so I left right as his story ended, right when it was her turn to reply to his request for help.   I didn’t want to be disappointed in what I’d hear.  I didn’t want to keep thinking about him.  The others just like him.  The people who get one bad break that spirals them downward into a dark abyss, slippery walls with no easy way to climb out.

So many people are living on the edge right now.  The breeze blows in an adverse direction and tips the table upside down.  Legit or not, it’s stories like these that put things in perspective.  Seizure or no seizure, the man was just trying to get home.  Just hanging on, one day at a time.

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~ by maureenmoore on January 4, 2012.

One Response to “Rough Breaks”

  1. I so thought I wanted to hear the counter woman’s reply, but then, like you, I decided , “No.” I’ll just add him to the buenas-ondas list that seems to have no end during these days. And, again, like you, where were his “local” friends?! Thanks for this daily reminder to be grateful and compassionate.

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