A co-worker of mine, Candace Perry, broadcast the following note to her Facebook friends Tuesday night. It’s striking.
It’s after work and I’m in my business casual, walking through the mall having just bought a not-so-scrumptious dinner of Sbarro’s pizza when I see a sad sight before my eyes.
A girl, probably about 12 years old, of the tomboyish type with short brown hair, is kinda hobbling along. Her left leg is in a cast of some sort. It crosses my mind that I’d seen this girl a bit earlier, walking in the same condition — looking rather lost with a super sad face. Destitute was the word that came to mind. Well, not really destitute as far as her clothes went, just the expression on her face was. As I get closer to her, she looks at me with that look you can recognize anywhere — you know, the look that says “I need help, can you help me?!” I immediately start wondering what she’s about to ask me … could it be that this poor little orphan child was abandoned by her parents and has no way to get home? Could it be that she’s starving and hungry?”
With sad, puppy dog eyes, she asks in a fast, mumblish, barely audible fashion, “Miss, do you have a second?” And I answer, all sympathetic, “Sure,” just knowing she was about to ask me if I had some cash to spare. And even though I didn’t have any on me, I’d do my good samaritan deed for the day and walk back over to the food court and buy her something with my debit card. I had almost kept walking because of that lack of cash, but the look on her face was just THAT sad that I couldn’t help but stop.
But there was no way, absolutely no way I could’ve been prepared for what she said next. With complete seriousness and the same sad face, she says, “I was in this store and they have this new DVD and I was going to buy it, but then they told me they had this other version, the special edition version, and I wanted to buy it but it was $4 more, so I was wondering if you might have $4 to spare?”
I did a double-take, not quite sure I’d heard right.
So I asked her to repeat herself and she repeated the whole “sad” story again.
Yep, I’d heard right.
I was astounded. Was this girl SERIOUS?!!
I then told her no, I didn’t have any cash, sorry.
I wish you could’ve seen the look on her face. It looked like death warmed over. Like she’d just lost her best friend. Like I’d just told her I couldn’t help her get home or like she’d have to wait days for her next meal. I mean the look on her face almost made me turn around and take her to that store to buy the DVD, it was that pitiful. But just in time I caught myself: I had just been begged — FOR A DVD. It wasn’t even that she couldn’t afford the DVD period — she just couldn’t afford the special edition version!! Did I look like I was rich or something, that I had $4 to freely give to anyone who asked for it? Sadly, the poor child would have to wait.
I quickly turned away so she wouldn’t see the laughter bubbling up inside of me that threatened to spill out (and did) as soon as I walked away. Before you say I’m cruel or something, you just have to realize that I was caught completely off guard and so I found the situation in that moment hilarious.
But now that I’m sitting here writing this, I feel sadness washing over me. Sadness that a child would be so oblivious to the world around them that they’d actually stop to beg people to help them get a DVD. I wish I had taken her aside and said “Child, do you REALIZE how many people are starving in this world?! How many people make less than $2 A DAY in developing countries and that the cost of food has gone up so much that they can’t even afford to eat?!! And you’re begging me to get the latest and greatest version of a DVD?!!”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that because people are starving we should give up all semblances of fun and entertainment forever. But I am saying that this perspective, that a DVD is a NEED and needed so much that you must beg for it if you don’t have the money for it NOW … WOW. I guess you can’t really blame her for trying, and I know I have lived in an American bubble for much of my life — but wow.
Anyhow, maybe some of you haven’t heard about it yet, but there is a food crisis going on in the rest of the world and tomorrow, June 25th, Compassion International is hosting ato pray for the people, the children, that are in REAL dire situations. AND, did you know that ? Just think: That DVD you were considering buying this month can feed a child for an entire month. Actually, they don’t sell DVDs that cheap so for less than the cost of a DVD you can feed a child for one month. Think about it.