I have been online reading and blogging for AT LEAST three hours.
Remember dial-up, and the moment you clicked offline? It would tell you something like 01:24:08, and you could know exactly how many seconds of life had been wasted. Then you could follow up with the appropriate amount of guilt. Now, with broadband (we don’t have cable, so we’re allowed this luxury) you have no clue how many hours you’ve been plugged in. It’s a 24-hour party. One big blurry vein where i can stick the needle any time i need it. MMMMMMMM. yeahhh. Cable Modem. mmmmmm.
Yesterday, while I was cleaning out my car in front of our house, I met Tammy. She was walking down the street with an unlit cigarette. I knew exactly what she needed. I had accumulated a couple hundred lighters in my car, so I was ready when she approached me. I heard “How you doin, baby?” and barely after I turned around, i heard the story of a car breaking down, moving to a new city, moving in with an aunt, looking for a job, being shot by a stray bullet, ect., until we reached the inevitable climax of every conversation with a stranger on my street: “Can I have (fill in some random amount of money, like $2.30)”
Unfortunately, I had plenty of lighters, but no money to give Tammy. Instead, I offered her a ride home. She accepted immediately and jumped in the passenger seat of my car. What had I done? I thought. This is not Athens. Tammy can and will probably kill me. I got in the car, buckled up and smiled politely. “Where do you want to go today, Tammy?”
We had a nice drive. She had me all over the ghetto, stopping at different friends along the road to chat and ask for money. Tammy knew too many large, scary men who were on their way to jail (her words, not mine). She told me the details of her life, and by the end of our trip, i agreed to take her to the grocery store. When we finally arrived at her house, she hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and told me that I had made her day. She told me she loved me, which was strange, that she would call me, and that she was looking forward to going to the grocery and maybe grabbing a beer afterwards. I mumbled out the window that her I loved her, too, which was strange. I do, I guess.
Anway, Tammy has my phone number now. She is going to call today about the grocery trip. Seth told me that I’m not allowed to take her by myself, especially if it involves picking her up somewhere. I might disobey. I am still trying to decide now. She left a bunch of papers in my car. They were information about and an application for the Columbus Drug & Mental Health Clinic.
So many lessons already after Tammy.
1) If your thoughts become obsessive over any good deed you do, you should definitely be doing more good deeds. It was truly amazing to see how quickly my head filled with pride and judgment of those around me. (Hey Giant SUV College Boy….how many people did you give a ride to today?! HA!)
2) For someone who talks about loving “the least of these” so much and bashes everything – especially corporations – that do not, i sure am petrified of them, and reluctant to do anything practical or hands-on to better their situation.
3)”If they weren’t all poor and black and men,” i thought to myself, “I probably wouldn’t be so scared.” In fact, I was completely terrified the entire time by this poor woman and the stereotypes associated with her friends. Way more terrified, i’m almost positive, than Jesus would have been.
4) I have previously ran to the car on the way to church. I will run quicker if i see someone black or male walking down the street. Isn’t there something hypocritical about this?
This whole incident comes after a long prayer a week ago that went a little something like this:
“Lord, I am surrounded by the poor, but I have no way of knowing how to begin helping them. I live a few blocks from some of your most in need, but I am too scared to start something on my own. Put a someone in my lap today. Show me step-by-step how I can help.”
This is not a lie.
I asked more specifically for a family, but I got a Tammy instead, who now has my cell phone number. Please help me. Am I dumb for offering rides to strangers? Am i being fearless, or stupid? Should I pick up Tammy and take her to the store? Is there another way to help her? What is step two, please.
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