Once upon a time in a delirium far away, I considered myself to be a crusader for good. Matter of fact, I made it known to those around me that I was out to make my community a better place, one human soul at a time.
God, I felt noble. I actually sensed I was infused with supernatural energy and purpose.
In the process of walking through this cloudy-mindedness, I became known in my community as someonoe who would assist those who found themselves in trouble with the law, or even temporarily jammed into a jail cell.
So when Carrie called me at two o’clock in the morning, explaining that she had been falsely arrested for shoplifting and she needed help, I arose from my bed, put on my pants, grabbed my car keys and drove down to the city jail.
They allowed me to talk to her and I discovered that she had been shopping. apparently forgot that she had tried on some garment and was headed out of the store and was detained by security and placed under arrest for stealing.
It’s not so much that I believed her story as the fact that being under the influence of this false bravado of mission, I felt it was wrong of me to be cynical.
Her bail was $75, so I decided to pay it and let her come back to our house, where I intended to help her rehabilitate herself and become a fine citizen of the country that Washington and Lincoln built.
I noticed on the drive back to my house that Carrie had transformed from a repentant, teary-eyed lass of misfortune into a rather mouthy, self-centered and cautious individual, who wasn’t so sure she wanted to stay in our home. Matter of fact, by the next morning, she got itchy after breakfast, went out the door and I didn’t see her again until two weeks later, when I showed up for her court date.
She once again had donned her damsel-in-distress profile and succeeded in getting off with only community service for pinching the garments. Shortly after that, she disappeared.
I learned something through the process: nothing has value to any of us if we don’t have memory of possessing it and losing it.
$75 didn’t mean anything to Carrie, and the fact that I paid her bail was irrelevant. It had been some time since she had seen $75 and she certainly had never paid the bail for someone else.
It’s not that poor people are pernicious assholes–it’s just that they have no point of reference of what you’re giving up to help them, so it’s easy for them to walk away…without a thank-you.
Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) — J.R. Practix
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