This story makes me sad. So sad. I was telling a friend yesterday, after she told me about a lady who doesn’t eat lunch at work, because she can’t afford it. I don’t know why—I just get so emotional thinking about it. It kind of fills me up and overflows and I just can’t stop the tears. I feel like my heart might just burst. And, I guess (no, I know) a big part of me feels ashamed—but we’ll get to that part.
About two years ago, when SilverFox was quite ill, he had an operation and needed round the clock care. He needed help getting out of bed, showering—the lot. I was doing it all by myself and a lot of the time, I felt like I was chasing my tail. I’d been madly cleaning that morning, and just ducked into our local Coles to pick up a few things for lunch. It was about 2pm and I was waiting impatiently in the queue to pay, tapping my foot. Huffing and puffing.
That’s when I noticed her.
She was a young (about 15) Sudanese girl who looked really nervous, standing two people ahead of me in the queue. She was kind of bouncing back and fourth on her feet, watching the door. In her arms, she carried two packets of pads and a bag of rice. I was watching her, and noticed her making eye contact with a man in another queue. He was an older Sudanese man (I’m guessing her Dad) who had a few groceries tucked under his arm.
At this point, it was pretty obvious that they were about to steal what they had in their arms. I was looking over at Security who were completely oblivious that what was about to happen. By then, everyone in both queues knew what was about to go down. We were all silently waiting for it to happen.
No one, said anything.
And then it happened.
Her Dad made a dash for the door. I looked at the girl, who looked at me. She looked desperate. She did a quick scan around her. She was really nervous by now. Security were now chasing her Dad in the parking lot.
She looked at me—straight at me.
All I saw was desperation.
She was scared.
And then in a flash, before I even made sense of what was happening, she ducked out the door with her loot tucked under her arm. I watched, stunned as security chased her through the car park while she dodged cars.
I left with my three bags brimming with groceries (the irony) and while I loaded up my car, I watched as Security were giving them a stern warning and had taken back the items. I wanted so badly to intervene—but I didn’t.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it on the drive home. And then I got home and while I unpacked the groceries, I relayed the story to SilverFox.
The first thing he asked, was why I didn’t just offer to pay for the groceries? Bless. He looked away, but I could see the story had touched him and he blinked back a few tears. (He’d hate me writing that.) I sat there, overwhelmed with sadness. I was ashamed and disappointed that I didn’t offer to help that girl. That family.
Imagine, if I been that one person—that one person—to show that family kindness?
She was a young girl, who needed pads. She wasn’t a professional thief. She wasn’t an entitled brat stealing some earrings from Sportsgirl. She was a desperate, frightened child.
It seems like a funny thing to get upset over; trivial to some—but it taught me, sometimes being charitable doesn’t mean giving over a few dollars at Christmas time. Or giving your old clothes to the charity bin. It might mean paying for someone’s groceries, if they can’t. Helping someone when they feel like they have their back up against the wall—and when you least expect to help.
I’ll never forget that day—or the look in that girl’s eyes. All I can hope, is that somewhere along the way, they got help. And that someone shows them the kindness that I should have done that day. It will always be one of my biggest regrets—everything else, seems trivial. MC