If you’ve read my blog before, you may remember me mentioning Soul-Crushing Perspective Lady. I see her come in now and again, trading cans and bottles for a nickel each. Yesterday she came in with bags and bags of cans and bottles for gas money to be able to get to the free community hospital.
It seems that cans and bottles are her only source of income. While I was dusting the tops of the pumps to make them look sparkly and new, she was next to me, digging around in the garbage cans by the pumps hoping to score some more bottles to trade in. “If I get another three cans, I’ll have another quarter!” she’d tell me. “It’s hard to spot them all with the vision in my left eye going bad,” she’d mention.
I went back to the register to ring up her returns. This visit with all her bags of bottles and cans netted her a little under $3. While she counted her quarters and nickels, she moved aside for a young woman. She was dressed fashionably and was buying a bottle of Fiji water (Why people are obsessed with having their water flown in from the other side of the planet, I’ll never understand. Tap water is perfectly fine here in the US). The Soul-Crushing Perspective Lady was in a dirty shirt that she wears every day. Her money is kept in a mud-and-something-else-stained purse. She was coughing, and honestly didn’t smell all that good.
Fiji girl jerked back from her in revulsion. She looked at me and said, “I think I’m going to need to take a shower after this.” She then laughed at her own joke and made a wide arc around the other woman as she left.
I’ve never felt so repulsed at someone than I have been at Fiji girl. Maybe she hadn’t known about the trials that this woman has been through. Maybe she’s one of those people who think that if you’re poor, it’s probably your fault and that you deserve it somehow.
I’d like to not think about Fiji girl anymore, except to hope that she gets some perspective sometime soon. I’d rather think about how the least fortunate of us get treated here. There are so many cracks for people to fall through. If we are supposed to be a civilized society, how can we ignore those cracks and the people who fall through? Yes, we have a community hospital, though it seems that even that is allowed grudgingly. I’ve had a person try to explain to me why things would be so much better if we didn’t give out food stamps. Somehow letting people starve would improve society.
I can say that I usually learn something new about myself or humanity as a whole every day. Sometimes what I learn is not pleasant. Sometimes what I learn is that we can be cruel and thoughtless. We can be addiction-prone and self-destructive. There are people who struggle just to survive day to day, and there are people who would even deny those people help. They laugh as they watch someone fall through the ice, and then they return home to the warmth of their hearth, content in the knowledge that calamity could never happen to them.
Fuck those people.