December 30, 2008

Charity Rocks

Helping out people who don't help themselves is a special hobby of mine, along with investing in pyramid schemes and collecting pen pals from Nigeria. After years of experience, I have become quite an expert at being a sucker.

There is a mom from the YMCA whom I've known for three years but for no good reason other than my profound lack of social skills, have never engaged in a conversation that extended beyond an observation about the weather...that is, until recently.

A few weeks ago, I broke out of my warm and snugly hermit shell (where I was very happy I might add) and invited the woman's daughter to our house for a play date. I hoped that the woman would stay in her car during the drop off, or better yet, just deposit her offspring on the curb, but no such luck: she wanted to tour the premises and make sure that 1) her daughter didn't play with the matches/lighter fluid/live grenades that I had left on the kitchen counter 2) that her master bathroom was better than mine.

After finding a few reasons to feel good about herself, the mom plopped herself on my couch and proceeded to treat me to the unedited version of her life story, which included sad tales about her husband's lost job, a pet cat with unexplained diarrhea (and a $400 vet bill that they can't afford to pay to go with it), a pile of overdue medical and credit card bills, and a car with no gas that had to be turned on with a screwdriver.

Even though the woman made me feel like a prisoner in my own home, I felt really bad for her and decided after she left that I would try to do something nice for her family. Over the next few days, I mustered together a small army and together we secretly stocked the woman's fridge and bought her kids several Christmas presents.

We all felt good about our good deed. I felt even better about our collective acts of service the day after Christmas when the mom called me with the good news that she had just bought a 60" big screen television set. Yippee! She got an awesome deal that she couldn't pass up...and could pay for in monthly installments over the next three years: $2800 for everything except for the surround sound speakers, delivery, set-up and taxes, which were extra. What a bargain!

I'm so glad I brought over that honeybaked ham.

Tim thinks I should do the nice thing and volunteer to watch their tabby with IBS so they can enjoy their new home theater in peace. I'm seriously thinking about it.

Psych.

37 comments

Heather said...

Ain't that a pisser.

April said...

ahhhhhhhhhggggggggggggg!!!!!

Aunt MeMe/Mindy said...

Just keep telling yourself "It's the thought that counts" as you are grinding your teeth trying not to scream. :)

The Mommy said...

One year, my sister had a newly-divorced mother-of-two friend who wasn't going to have a Christmas tree. We donated the tree and decorations because I couldn't stand the thought. Within a month, she was the girl my sister's (now ex) boyfriend was cheating on her with. Nice warm fuzzies there, let me tell ya.

amanda said...

darn. but i'm sure you made her kids happy.

Shosh said...

Seriously messed up

Oh Boy...Oh Boy...Oh Boy said...

Oh my gosh...I sooo know the feeling. But I think I'm now overly hardened from similar experiences and really don't do enough now because of it. It's so hard. I also know someone who I regularly see having things like this done while I know all about all their big screens, ya know? And I want to scream at the people who DO for them! Sometimes I think I'm jealous because no one ever 'does' for us even if we're in a bind but then I realize that's because 1, I don't whine about our situation so that people would know that we even needed help and 2, I would never except help unless it was truly an emergency and I couldn't handle things.

HW said...

I've never understood people who consider a big screen a necessity. It is seriously a mindset that's everywhere.

I'm kind of mad for you that you bought the necessitities for this woman's family while she decided to buy a giant toy.

mindij said...

I was up until 2 this morning reading your stuff! You are hilarious and I am sure we were BFF before we came to this earth! That is the worst when your efforts are sort of wasted but I bet her kids loved it! I think you own part of that TV so you should go over there with your copy of the 6 hour version of "Pride and Prejudice" with some popcorn and scream and giggle when Darcy proposes, comes out of the pond 'scantlity clad' and when he proposes again-oohhh it makes me giddy-oh and present her with a brief 45 minute presentaion on how families can be together forever! You own her!!

Britt said...

Oh I can relate to this one....I know people that have milked the system and abused 'charity".
BUT go check out my blog. Charity does Rock and can make a difference. We had an amazing experience the day after Christmas. An unforgettable Christmas of giving that made a difference.

Sayre said...

This, sadly, reminds me of my stepson. They're bumming firewood from my dad because they can't afford to heat their house while they watch their ginormous TV with surround sound loudly enough for the neighbors to call the cops...

Argh!

Luckily, Dad has enough firewood to heat several houses for several years, so it's not that big a deal to him.

Annette Lyon said...

Glad her priorities are straight.

At one point when we got a new car we were trying to decide who to give our old one to. I was told in no uncertain terms that a certain family was really strapped and we should give it to them. Then they refurbished their TV room with a gigantic new couch and more. We gave the car to someone else.

dkm said...

I think you did a wonderful thing. How she chooses to spend her money doesn’t really matter. All that matters is who you become in the process. Congratulations.

Liz said...

It's usually those who can't pay bills whom have the best toys of all! Maybe you should let your needy children have a playdate at HER house! LOL ;)

Doublebanker said...

It is the time of year for giving.. argh

Betsey Booms said...

This is the kind of thing that makes me remember why I stay in my very own hermit shell. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I think you should haul all three 5 yrs olds and the baby over there (after you feed them a nutritious lunch of pop tarts, pixie sticks and frapachinos of course) for a play date. Dont forget to take an extended tour of her house, plop down on the couch tell her about your bowel issues then settle in for a few hours of tv on her fancy new flatscreen....you know cuz its so nice and all.

Melisa said...

I'm speechless. Wow. Some people's children. I guess she learned her lesson.

I got proposed to today by a Nigerian on Facebook. I had to respectfully decline.

Momlissa said...

No.she.didn't! That is just every kind of wrong.

rachie! said...

well, look at the bright side, at least it makes for good blog fodder :)

Sants said...

OH.

Yeah, it's about who you become in the giving, but it sure is easier to become who you want to be when the recipient isn't ... like that.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think that it is situations like this that really give us the chance to "become" in the giving. A certain church leader once specifically said that charity is not something one does, charity is something one becomes. And it's true. If you are only charitable to those who "deserve" charity, then is the act really charitable? Warm fuzzy experiences are awesome, no doubt about it, and this situation is unfortunate and disreputable, but it's also the kind that provides opportunity for real and lasting growth. I'm with dkm. I think the point is not how she spends her money, I think what matters is how the experience changes you, and I think what you did was awesome, regardless.

Anonymous said...

You think Christ ever thinks that - He sacrificed his life for us and look at the great things we do with our time and resources.

Anonymous said...

I can so relate to that!
My mom gave money to one poor family (even though some people told her not to) and the very next day, the wife had her hair colored with the works.

Makes me very, very MAD!!!!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I have very similar pet-peeves but I'll refrain from the uneccesary rant. Good for you, though, for being thoughtful in the first place.

Nancy B said...

I don't understand why people aren't commenting on the more obvious issue...where does one keep those pesky explosive devices when other kids come over to play? Some of them are just too large to stuff in cupboards. Perhaps the shower stall is a good venue. Then when you are giving the tour of the Masterful Master Bathroom, you can test whether or not your "guest" is a snooper, and therefore likely to tell you about her cat's IBS. If she suddenly needs to take her child to a forgotten dentist appointment...Voila! Everyone's a winner.

Valerie said...

Like many others, I totally understand how that feels. You still did a great thing and get lots of blessings for it. I am a stranger who is visiting, but you seem like a very good-hearted person. I hope it doesn't stop you from opening up to the next person. Great blog!

Hope said...

People like that make me want to scream. Loudly. I have a sister-in-law and her husband who owed my in-laws money, over $1,000.00 They hadn't paid them back-and they decided to buy themselves a big screen T.V. It was a "pay as you go" type of thing I guess. I mother-in-law was telling us all about this huge big screen T.V.-that she hadn't seen anything like it. So my husband pipes up "So I guess you will never see the $1,000.00 that they owe you". She then got mad.

Mary and Steve said...

No good deed goes unpunished, right? Where's your 60' in. flat screen? Oh that's right... her house!

Malea said...

"Dont forget to take an extended tour of her house, plop down on the couch tell her about your bowel issues then settle in for a few hours of tv on her fancy new flatscreen....you know cuz its so nice and all." lolol, I think you and this Anonymous could be very good friends, I know I'd want to be friends with her:)

Andrea said...

Congratulations on following through with a very nice and charitable deed. The family appreciates your thoughts I am sure...regardless of their inability to sort their finances. That's probably why they have to start their car with a screwdriver. I would be pretty irked as well. I agree with dkm that you will grow as a person for being so willing to give despite how the recipient takes it!

Ethington Family said...

Love when I do that

Anonymous said...

Hey, I know her!!!!! Her name is Kathy and she lives in Florida. You arent the only sucker. No more Mr. Nice Guy for me. Jamie

soapymomponders said...

I know her, too! (Actually, I know 2 of her.) There's a lady at my church who has let lots of people feed and clothe her children. For Christmas 2007 several of us got together and got her children stuff and my daughter is very generous. When she found out that the woman wanted a flash drive or media card for her digital camera (she actually did win the camera in a contest), she was livid. She said she should be asking for things for her CHILDREN and not for herself.

The other person is much closer to me and I've been guilty of helping her out because I was told only partial truths (and live out of town). Once I found out the truth, the generosity just turned itself off.

Now I give to things I know will make a difference.

Jana said...

I have to admit, I was a teensy bit annoyed in the moment, but now that a few days have passed, the whole episode is becoming super funny...especially since we only have one t.v. in the house (by choice) and it's a 17 inch beauty that my husband and I bought at Circuit City the day after Thanksgiving a million years ago. We're getting a lot of good laughs over the whole situation...so it was worth it in the end.

Melisa: congrats on your near engagement!

Lucy said...

My husband and I are house hunting, and found a "bargain" home on a short sale... while touring said home with crayon on the walls we counted not one, two, or three, but FOUR plasma t.v.'s. I kept wondering where I should put our 22 incher we've had for six years...

Sandi said...

Oh--I would be pissed.

When my husband died, a lot of people wanted to start a college fund for my kids and raise money for us. We don't need it (well, everyone can use the extra money but we don't NEED it to make ends meet), so I made clear that I didn't want the money and if people wanted to do something for our family, whatever they raised should go to a particular charity.

Found you through Ask and I think you are hilarious.