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Ha. During last night’s episode of Boston Legal, Shirley Schmidt got a dig in at Happy Feet and not getting it. Mind you, she was busy throwing a case at the time, so I guess it should be taking with a pinch of salt.

(On the subject of Boston Legal, does anyone else out there think that Shirley Schmidt-ho is totally hilarious? Pervy, but really funny, too.)

On a very different note, yesterday something happened that made me re-evaluate my life so much.  M and I got home at about 7 o’ clock last night, having been out all afternoon and I just really didn’t want to make food that late, so we decided to stop and grab a bite to eat on our way home.

We stopped at Nando’s and the food was actually really good. I had a ‘vitality meal’, which was a grilled mealie, salad and chicken breast. Didn’t even taste like fast-food, it was so light and delicious. But that’s not the point. While we were eating our food, a beggar came into the restaurant. I didn’t even make eye-contact, concentrating on my food. He had a board hanging around his chest, telling his story.

Now, before you think I’m a real hard-hearted Hannah, let me explain. I usually give to people in shopping centres, that stand at the exit doors with their collections tins. They usually say which cause they are collecting for and so on. But SA has a huge problem with people begging on the streets. Boards bearing legends like: Help! No work, five children. Hungry.

On the other hand, we have a huge crime problem. So now we have people standing at red robots, boards and all, and there have been many cases where drivers of cars stop, try and do the decent thing and get hijacked and shot for their trouble. People have been mugged for taking out their wallets in front of beggars. So who do you trust?

Anyway, the person in Nando’s had moved on, out the door. He certainly wasn’t an obnoxious type, unlike so many others. He seemed to have some sort of disability and as that is a cause close to my heart, I was suddenly stricken by not having acknowledged him. I looked out the window and saw him still there, in the parking-lot.

Unfortunately, the only cash I had on me was R5, but I grabbed it and went outside to find him. He saw me and I smiled at him and proferred the money, saying something trite, like, “Here is something for you”.

The hand that he held out for the money was hardly a hand at all. It was like a little palm, with no fingers and only a slight bulge where his thumb should have been. I think he was unable to speak, but he gave me the most beautiful smile. His face was so expressive that he conveyed his thanks in volumes. I didn’t know what to say, so smiled and hoped that I was conveying, “You’re welcome.”

The exchange touched me deeply, and I was fighting back tears when I got back to our table.

Later, when our desserts arrived, I wished fervently he was still there so I could have given mine to him. At least he would have had a little bit of sweetness in his life last night.

It is so, so hard for some people in this country. That man was on my mind the whole evening. Where did he sleep last night? The system cannot be right if someone like that can’t be taken better care of by the state.

I am so blessed. There have been times when I really battled, physically, but I always had someone to take care of my every need. Many someones, in fact. Right now, when I’m in a snit about having a little relapse, my only worry is choosing which private hospital to go to. Having a medical aid (insurance) affords me the choice. Relatively few in this country have that choice. Most have to go to dubious state hospitals.

So today, instead of bemoaning my fate at having yet another relapse, I will count my many! blessings. How very much worse things could be than a little relapse.

I feel really sorry for the poor people in this country. The cost of electricity has sky-rocketed this past month. And for those already on the bread-line, it will push them over the edge. I feel so helpless sometimes, for the people that live a hand to  mouth existence.

I’m not fabulously wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. M and I live a comfortable life, but hardly an extrvagant one. But today, I feel like a spoilt rich girl…

Written by Maggie

April 8, 2008 at 9:38 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. The saddest part is that the man NEEDED help. Here in the US … people choose to live like that. We have so many social programs that you could easily be taken care of with the basics (food, shelter, minor medical care) just by asking.


    April 8, 2008 at 2:41 pm

  2. That is so so so sad. We have it very easy. That’s for sure.


    April 8, 2008 at 8:16 pm

  3. It’s true; some people have it so hard. I became acquainted with a homeless man near my office’s old location–when I took Winston for a walk around the block, we would always stop to say hello if he was sitting down.

    There are programs in place, but something like 90% of homeless people in America are mentally ill. Many are war veterans who weren’t able to adjust to life back home.

    It hurts to think of the loneliness that comes with a life like that. The man I knew was so friendly and intelligent; yet people often treated him as if he wasn’t a human at all.

    Katie Alender

    April 9, 2008 at 9:29 am

  4. I always feel sorry for them and also give where I can. We need more people like you who show we care. I can not begin to imagine what it must be like not be homeless and have to beg for money especially if you are disabled 😦

    Mom Archer

    April 9, 2008 at 3:19 pm

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