Woe is me (or how to get a little perspective)

Oh, woe is me… I have the money and the health to pick up and move in less than a month (which started right after my hysterical crying fit).
 
Oh, woe is me… I have many many boxes full of stuff that I no longer want and have to drive ALLLL the way downtown to drop it off…
 
Oh, woe is me… I’m allergic to the cardboard boxes (I got for free) and I have SO MUCH stuff that I need to use a lot of boxes…
 
I had the following quote from Friends playing in my head all weekend… My wallet’s too small for my fifties AND MY DIAMOND SHOES ARE TOO TIGHT.
 
I got a little perspective on Saturday (through no fault of my own I might add… I was just going about my business).
 
I finally got around to taking my donation items to the WISH foundation.  Two boxes of dishware, one box of food that is perfectly fine but gives me a tummy ache (Fibre One bars are evil!), two bags of toilettries and perfumes (not cheap!), a garbage bag full of clothes, towels and blankets and a rubbermaid bin full of stuffed animals and blankets.  Woe was me when I had to make five or six trips up the stairs from my apartment to put this all in the car… Woe was me when I had to spend a fortune in gas to drive across town to the ‘sketchy’ area to drop these things off… And absolutely woe was me when the volunteer at the WISH Foundation said that yes, they do want the stuffed animals because ‘some of the ladies have kids or grandkids at home’.  Uh… full stop… remember what I said the WISH foundation was for?  Survivial Sex Workers.  Women who resort to selling their bodies for sex to get by one. more. day.  And these women have GRANDKIDS at home?  That was more than I could take and my mind and heart shut down in a poor attempt to prevent a catastrophic breakdown on the steps of the building.
The more I thought about it, the more it didn’t compute.  I thought about my grandma… (who sent freshly made gingersnaps to me via my mom on Sunday.).  I thought about the classic ‘grandma’ portrayal on television that absolutely does not include the grandmas living on the streets and prosituting themselves… Woe was me no longer as I desperately wanted to pack everything I owned into a moving truck and take it to the WISH Foundation.  To figure out some way that I might help these women… between a full time job with the government, the necessity of grocery shopping and taking care of a kitty and my not so busy social life… how could I ever make time…  Time will be made.  I grouse on and on about how women need to stand together, stick up for eachother and take care of one another.  What more important way in this very moment can I make that happen… walk the talk and get my hands dirty helping!
 
Woe was me about ten minutes later when my gas light on my paid-off car started dinging alerting me to the fact that I didn’t have enough gas to get home.  Woe was me when I had to drive three blocks out of my way in order to make the left turn required to get to the gas station.  Woe was me when I had to consider packing my iphone, my wallet and my camera into my hundreds of dollars custom leather handbag while I pumped gas or just use the automatic door locks and leave it all on the seat.  Woe was me when a wind picked up and I had to put my hand knitted scarf around my neck while I stood pumping liquid gold into my car that is really too big for just one person to commute to and from my government job…
 
While I was pumping my gas, a disinfranchised man stood on the other side of the pump and started chatting to me.  He was so far beyond threatening… he intentionally stood with a gas pump and garbage can between us and struck up conversation. I asked him questions about himself and took an interest in him… for whatever reason, my normally cold and dismissive attitude took a vacation and I felt like the five minutes I was going to have to be there would be well served by not pretending this guy was invisible.  I’m not naive by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to the stories that people make up in order to separate you from your money, however for whatever reason, I actually believed him.  He’s a sheetmetal worker/roofer by trade from Scarsborough Ontario.  He moved here three months ago expecting to find work in the construction trade and is now resorting to riding his bicycle around and picking up empties.  Once a week he buys a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter with his ‘earnings’ from doing day labor for construction crews.  Usually he doesn’t work more than about an hour a day for them… probably picking up debris on the sites or digging holes…
Once I was done filling my tank with gas, he asked me if I may have had any empties in my car that I could give to him.  Not for money… for recycling.  I said I’d check and ended up giving him 8-10 bottles… and he was so thankful!  I gave him essentially GARBAGE and he was so thankful!  Woe was me… I looked in my purse and all I had was a few pennies and a loonie… Normally I don’t give money to people because I figure they’re going to buy drugs or alcohol with it… but I thought… who cares!  Whatever he does with his money is up to him… Only by the Grace of God and hardwork do I not have to dig in public trashcans for empty pop cans to return for a nickel. I gave him the loonie and he looked like I’d given him a $100 bill… and he said he was now pretty close to being able to get a slice of hot pizza for his dinner.
 
As I drove off, I was again reminded that comparitively speaking, I have no woe… Of course everyone has woe… everyone has issues and things going on in their lives that they worry about, complain about, struggle with…  I work my butt off at work, I haven’t made poor choices (alcoholism, drug use…).  I stayed in school, I respected my parents and the rest of my family and I’m honest… I’ve worked damn hard to make this life for myself where I can have a custom made leather handbag, name brand glasses and an iPhone.  But one poor choice… one economic downturn… one health issue is all we all are away from being in a position that we never thought we would be in… where we have to rely on the charity of those in a better place to help us.  I am that person right now.  I’m in a good place…  I can give my time (because I can’t really afford to give a lot of money).  I can give my kind heart, my strong shoulders and my warm smile to someone who doesn’t have anything else.  I can do it and I will.  I have to… because if we all decided someone else would do it…. well… the math on that is not favorable…
 
I’ve been reading blogs lately about strong and powerful women who have given themselves for the fight against famine in Africa… who dig wells and build houses in neglected parts of the world… and it’s inspiring… but it also leaves me wondering… if we all give of ourselves in empovrished countries… who helps at home?  Every country will have a percentage of people who are living beyond the system… who don’t have a steady supply of food or a roof over their heads.  Just because Canada has such a small percentage compared to other nations doesn’t mean that we just accept that as collateral damage and give our time and money to the worse off countries… does it?  Is it not just as honorable to work at home?  In your own community?  Where there are no accolades… where the charity is just as needed but the landscape isn’t as stark a contrast… That’s where I want to help.  In my own community.  That’s where I will help.  In my own community.
 
If you want to put back into your community, there are many ways that you can do so at your own, local level… some ways are:
 
Donate to the food bank (time, or money… I know for the Vancouver food bank, every dollar you give is equal to $3 in buying power… so it’s better to bring money than canned goods, altho they’ll take anything!)
Donate time, money or goods to your local women’s shelter
Find an independant charity in your community that helps sex trade workers, provides education, provides rehab and shelter 
Donate books and magazines to shelters
Volunteer with your local crisis line
Volunteer to drive elderly people to and from the grocery store and doctor’s appointments
 
 
Anyway, off my soap box for now… likely this is the last post until the weekend because I’m going to be in the last sprint towards packing the rest of my stuff and moving across town.
Talk to you on the flip side… or the Oak side as I like to call it….
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