Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How far should you go to help someone?

I was reading a blog post today which inspired this blog post. You can check it out HERE.
It got me thinking about how far we should go to help someone when approached. Let's say your pumping gas and a woman comes up to you saying she is broke down, way down the road, and wonders if you can give her a ride and some gas. And yet she has no gas can and she doesn't look like she has walked all that far, what do you do?

I try my best to help people in need, but I have had so many bad experiences while trying to help people that I am:
1) astounded at people these days
2) reluctant now in my efforts

I have learned to go off my own judgement and assess the person and situation as best I can. Here are a few examples of what I have been through:

Me and my husband, when I was pregnant with Lucas, were approached as my husband had gotten out of the car to check on our tire which he presumed was flat. A man, late fifties, came up to my husband and asked if we could please take his wife to the hospital as she was very ill and they couldn't afford an ambulance bill later down the road. I was so very reluctant, but the man actually had tears in his eyes! Being some years ago me and my husband didn't have cell phones at the time, but we said yes anyway feeling compassion for this man. We go to pick up his wife around the corner at a house, she comes out and can hardly walk. They get in the car, and we head to the hospital.
We had basically an old beater car back then, our dome light wouldn't go off inside the car, the inside was cramped, but it got us from point A to point B.
The woman started crying that they needed to stop by the ATM to pay the copay for her ER visit or they wouldn't see her. The ATM she had referred to was on the way so we said we'd stop there. Then the man started complaining about the light in the car giving him a headache. We told him it wouldn't go off when the car was on, and then he started shoving on the back of my seat saying he was so cramped. I told him I was up as far as I could go especially being pregnant. The man started voicing obscenities and continued shoving the seat. My husband got upset that he was shoving on my seat still and they started arguing. Then as my husband was getting ready pulling over and make him get out of the car his wife said: "Oops, I dropped my purse and can't see, I think the gun fell out" He started shuffling on the floorboard in the back seat. Me and my husband felt frozen. My heart was pounding, I wanted to cry I was so scared, my husband looked in the rear view mirror and the look on his face told me he had seen the gun. Then the woman suddenly said she was feeling much better and it must have just been heartburn, and they would just go to the bank and then by her son's and we could take them home. It was night and it seemed like NOBODY was out. Time almost felt as if it was standing still despite our moving. We were so afraid, when we made a stop one of them would always stay in the car and request we both stay in the car. I felt the best thing to do was do as they said and go along with it. I kept praying, and my husband later said he did as well. We weren't sure which one of them had the gun at this point, and while they didn't directly threaten us with it we took it as implied. The man kept complaining about the seat and the light and the woman pulls out a bottle of liquor and starts drinking. Finally they said they were going to stay at their sons house and he would give them a ride home later and thank the Lord they got out of the car both of them when we reached their sons house. Earlier we had went to the video store and rented some videos which we had forgotten were in the backseat. The videos weren't there, I didn't really expect them to be after the way everything happened. We did go to the police station and report everything immediately. It was later found out that in the past the man had committed armed robbery. I thank God that He looked over us that night. Truly our prayers were heard as we were unharmed. I have never and would never allow anyone else I don't know into my car ever again.

Another example is at our local ice cream parlor my husband was approached by a man begging for gas money. He said he just started a new job, his truck ran out of gas, could he have some money for gas so he could get home? My husband having been in this situation before himself obliged even though we didn't have much money left after getting the ice creams. The gas station was right next door and his truck was parked at the gas pump so we figured him to be legitimate. We gave him all we had left which was about eight dollars. After the man thanked us, he walked across the street to his truck. It was hot and muggy so we decided to get our ice creams to go and got in our car and left. The man was standing by his truck watching us. Then my son said he left his Muno (the gabba gabba cyclops) at the ice cream parlor so we went back to get it. When we turned around we observed the man get in his truck without paying or pumping gas and driving off. He had lied to us. This SAME man just last month approached me at a local grocery store with the same story and asking the same thing. I told him this: "You may not remember me, but you basically ripped us off a few months ago with this same story. We gave you all the money we had and then watched you get in your truck and just drive away. I think you should be reported to someone if you continue this" He was speechless and without a word turned around and jogged to his truck, the same vehicle. I hope that he quit trying to scam people.

So my question is, how do you know that someone is legitimate or not? After all these experiences I never leave without a cell phone, if someone requests gas I offer to pump it for them, or fill up a gas can. I try to use my own assessments and feelings towards a person. But NOBODY will EVER get in my car again unless I KNOW them. I believe that we should help others, but in today's sad world we MUST use caution. I know this can be really hard for fellow christians because the bible says we should help others, but I don't believe that God would want us to do this by putting ourselves in harm way. The world is such a sad place anymore that we have no choice but to use caution. We no longer live in a world where it's safe to leave doors unlocked and windows opened at night. A stranger is danger, and as we teach our children this so should we take our own advice. I am not saying don't help your fellow man, I am just saying proceed with caution and do not put yourself in danger.

1 comment:

  1. I've always been giving. Almost to the point of the shirt off my back - it was the hat off my head...

    Things is, there are ways we can be helpful without placing ourselves in the line of danger. Years ago, I decided that I would never give money to a homeless person. I couldn't know that they wouldn't spend it on alcohol or drugs, which they didn't need, instead of on food and rent which they did need. It didn't mean that I couldn't help them though. If asked, and if I can, I'll invite them to have a coffee with me and purchase a meal for them at the local coffee shop.

    I have given lifts to strangers, but only when I was at Peace about it, around me, and in the depths of my soul. If I didn't feel completely at peace about it, or if I couldn't do it myself, I would pay for a taxi for them.

    These are difficult times. There are unscrupulous people out there who would take advantage of caring and giving people like us. Thing is, if we stop reaching out to each other - either because we believe they are out to scam us, or out of concern that people would believe that we would scam them instead of being honest and forthright - if we decide to live in fear instead of in the presence of Love, then we are less than the best of who we are and less than we can be.

    These experiences, though horrendous and terrifying, shouldn't stop you for being wholly generous with your time and to the fullness of your capability.


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