So Santa, please read this.
Last night while I was dragging my body away from our bed after putting my son to sleep so I can close the store downstairs and check for inventory and sales, I braced myself for the Math that was about to hit me like a tidal wave. Man, I hate calculations. In the midst of my battle with numbers, I was suddenly called outside. I was happy to take a break from all the computing but at the same time annoyed at being disturbed in the middle of my ordeal. It was past midnight and I couldn’t for the life of me think of anyone wanting to see me. It could have been a customer wanting some midnight grub or perhaps it was an emergency (because my booty call days are over so I’m not going to assume that), but who knows? I wasn’t particularly curious but I got up lethargically armed with a folder, some sheets scribbled with figures, and biting my new favorite 15-cent (Php 6.00) pen just because the ink is so dark and it’s leaky just the way I like it. I know it would have been better to have a Glock 22 in hand but I don’t think I have a single violent bone in my body anymore.
Then I saw a familiar face behind the Atis tree that is in front of our house and heard a familiar voice pleading, “Mai, do you have a minute?” Of course, she was speaking in vernacular but I’m translating, so bear with me. “Yes?” I replied, more interrogative than I should have stated. “Lola is in the hospital,” she continued. “OMG, what happened?” It was natural to ask that I suppose so she explained that her grandmother had an asthma attack and was brought to the hospital and she just came from one of our relatives’ house nearby to borrow money but was unsuccessful in her plight. She was holding something wrapped in thick paper and she must have caught me staring at it so she continued to say, “I need $10 (actually, Php 400) to buy medicine. I have this bag with me and I would like to leave this to you so I can borrow some cash. I will pay you back tomorrow when my mom wires me money.” It was only then that I realized what was happening. I don’t know what my mom would have done in situations like these but I’m not her and as much as I try to do some corporal works of mercy, it does not occur to me immediately how to respond to incidences like what was happening. My mom has a huge heart; maybe it comes with her faith, and honestly, I can only do so much.
“Okay, wait for a while. Let me go in and see what I have since I’m still in the middle of counting some money,” I told her and went upstairs to tell my husband about the situation. Of course, I can’t take money from the store’s register so I got the $5 (Php 200) that was in my wallet. It’s a small amount, only half of what she needed, but hey I’m not rich and it was all I have left to spare. Running back downstairs and opening the locked gate to give her the cash, I said, “Please take this. It’s not much but I hope it helps.” I did not say I wanted her to pay me back but I think she understood what I meant and thanked me profusely before walking away and disappearing into the night. Note that I also didn’t accept the bag that she offered to leave behind, perhaps as a collateral.
Minutes later as soon as I was done with my Math ordeal, I was in the bathroom taking a quick shower before hitting the sack and it dawned upon me (because for most people, we all think about life and get epiphanies when we are showering!) that she may have been just pulling my leg. Now I was getting all worked up simultaneously as I worked up a lather to wash my grimy hair. Was she telling the truth about needing money to buy medicine? How much does a pack of shabu cost these days? All these crazy thoughts are now running in my head. Then as I rinsed, I asked myself aloud, “What would Jesus do?” My reverberated voice sent chills down my spine, after all it was well past 1 in the morning. But then I could hear my subconscious answer, “You should have offered to drive her to the pharmacy and take her back to the hospital so she could give the medicine to her Grandma.” By doing so, I can also verify if she was telling me the truth!!! Now, I feel terrible. Not guilty, but I feel so inadequate in my actions.
I told my husband the conversation I had with myself in the bathroom and he consoled me by saying, “At least you did something, you know.” I thought he was going to start cracking some jokes about me talking to myself again. It might not have been the best that I could have done for the person who needed help but damn, I have a conscience! It does appear so and I am inconvenienced now. I told myself I would do better next time and whenever I am faced with moments like these, I think I have a pretty good idea of what I would do then.
Still I am surprised at being able to come up with the correct solution, as far as I am concerned. My mind is so not analytical and I’m telling you that I’m no good at situational judgment tests. Most of the time I leave the decisions to my husband or my mother when I am confronted by circumstances. I have become dependent. Ugh.
Now, for my 2013 New Year’s resolution, I will be better and do better… especially with people. I am going to start putting words into actions and stop being oblivious to my surroundings. My mind tends to drift a lot so I’m thinking I should be more aware of the present. It hurts me to remember how many people have taken advantage of my kindness and generosity in the past (mostly financially) so I guess that is why my faith in humanity has been destroyed a bit. Maybe it’s time to start believing again. But this time, I’m going to use my conscience as a weapon… after all, I think that I do have one and now I fully intend to use it.