Broke vs Poor

The following was written by me in February of 2016 and posted to Facebook. It was something that weighed heavily on my soul then, and still does to this day.

Recently while on my route as a beer delivery man for Budweiser, I was readying myself to leave one of my stops in McAlester, OK. As I sat there organizing my paperwork, I saw what I took as a mother and daughter standing at the back edge of the parking lot. The mother, as far as I could tell, was roughly my age of early 30’s, and the daughter in the 4 year old range. It was hot, and I sat there for a few minutes watching them. The thoughts going through my head were numerous. I felt sympathy for them having to deal with the heat. I also dealt with selfish thoughts of hurrying to leave because I had just finished my last stop of the day, and all I wanted was to go home.

Other thoughts swarming throughout my head were ideas on how I could help them, or if they even needed help. I came close to climbing back out of my truck, walking back into the store, and purchasing them both something cold and refreshing to drink. That was my favorite idea, as I saw the mother using a cell phone attempting to contact someone; likely to help. But at the same time, every time I would reach for the handle to open the door, thoughts of not having the money kept causing me to pull it back.

“I can put it on my credit card,” I told myself several times. Then my own argument to myself, “You’re almost maxxed out on that card. You better not.” As I sat there battling myself on what I should do, my eyes couldn’t leave the little girl. She looked confused, helpless, and, at the same time, completely trusting in her mother. I was somewhat in awe of the moment, but the battle between my thoughts kept going on.

Eventually, I started up my truck and pulled away without doing anything. Thinking selfishly of myself and my needs. The further away I got from them the worse I would feel. I continued to beat myself up the entire way back to the warehouse, and I still give myself some flack to this day. Had I been in a personal vehicle and not a tractor-trailer, I like to think I would have turned around and went back. For those familiar with tractor-trailers, you might understand that last statement. They aren’t the easiest to maneuver around an open field, letalone the middle of a populated area.

I asked myself the following question, “Why didn’t you offer to help them?” And until the last couple of days, I didn’t have an answer. Now, I know that answer. I had this perspective of not being in a position to help because of my financial situation. In my mind, I justified it because I felt, in a way, like I would be sacrificing something that my family needed.

And then, once I came to that conclusion, I realized just how absurd I was. We’re not poor. We’re not hurting for anything other than luxuries, and even then, we have plenty of those. We’re simpy broke. It’s a situation that many people deal with every day; just like we do. But our situation is self-inflicted. We have and do many things that we could easily live without. We’re just so used to them, we often take them for granted. They’re a part of our daily life, but they’re not a part of life. Does that make sense?

Because of this, I am both grateful and sorrowful for that moment. I didn’t allow myself to help someone that may have needed it, but I believe that it made it easier for me to be a better person in future situations.

Author: P. Castle

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