Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

On Christmas Eve last year I met a retired-looking lady at the hostel, who talked animatedly to me about her family, chess and all sorts of things. (You know how the more mature people you meet seem to like doing so) She was looking for work on local boats. All seemed to be well in her life.

Last weekend I saw her again in the canteen, but she didn't want to talk. Maybe she didn't remember me.

On Sunday night at about 2am, I saw her being thrown out of one of the hostel's TV Rooms, and indeed out onto the street, for being an unpaying "street-pussy." We're just heading into winter here.

Giving-up on the episode of The New New Twilight Zone that I'd been watching (which was no big sacrifice, yes it was technically competent, but certainly didn't carry the paranoid air of the original original), I headed-out to the street after her, barely a minute behind. I spent the next half an hour trying, unsuccessfully, to track her down. There were tramps sitting in the street, stretched-out in doorways, one of them inside a tent in Aotea Square, but no sad-looking weak old ladies.

What had happened to change her daily situation so drastically?

And why on Earth had it taken me a whole minute to decide to go after her?

Today I saw her again in the canteen. I said hello, but she avoided me, so I said a prayer, apart from anything else asking for the 2 other people present to leave, which they immediately did. I'd made myself a bit too much stir-fry, so I offered some to her, but she again avoided making any eye-contact. "Please? I'm eating."

"Okay, but if there's anything I can do to help you, please just let me know."

As I sat down to eat, with my back to her soas to appear as unthreatening as possible, scenarios played through my head of all the things I could have said. I could have told her she was obviously in trouble and needed whatever help she was offered. I could have proved my point by gently pointing out that she wasn't allowed to be in the building. In my experience though, whenever I tell someone something they don't want to be true, they've preferred to blame me for lying and being unkind. No-one ever seems to consider that I might, just might, be telling the truth if it consequently means that they've got something wrong. I don't know where the quote comes from, but it's true - "There's none so blind as those who will not listen."

I knew inside me though, that I had said all that I was supposed to, and that she would come up to me in her own time. She had to. Who else had offered?

As I was washing up, she did indeed approach me, and mutter that I probably couldn't help, but she needed 8 dollars for a passport photograph. I rarely see money as a solution to anything these days, yet the parable of the good samaritan made what my response should be clear.

I didn't have exactly 8 dollars, so I gave her a tenner, which in NZ money is nothing. I said it was "from one old friend to another" and that if she ever met someone else who needed it, then she should pass it on. Then she smiled, and for just one very brief moment it felt just like it was Christmas again.


1 comment(s):

At 2:03 am, Blogger KlownKrusty said...

Doesn't the fact she completely disappeared in that minute suggest that you were, in fact, IN an episode of The Twilight Zone?


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