I don't know whether I look like a sucker, or just react like a sucker. Perhaps both.
No, its got to be the first one.
Friday afternoon, I road tripped to a nearby town for a late afternoon meeting. Who schedules a meeting at 3pm on a Friday, you ask? Well, the plan was to sit down and chat for about an hour, then head to the bar to continue our discussions somewhere more comfortable. Made all the sense in the world to me until I had to drive for an hour and a half on a frazzled brain and try to navigate a town I'd never been in before. A town (city?) that featured a circle with unnamed streets spoking off of it.
Well, actually, all the streets were named except the one that I was supposed to be on. That street was cleverly hidden, to make me feel welcome I suppose. I went around the circle a couple times, backtracked, turned around, went around. I finally stopped and called for help (no GPS. Never thought I needed one. I might have to reconsider).
I finally found my street and paused, making sure I was turning the right way. That was where I erred. In the millisecond that I paused, homeless lady radar went off and I attracted a little situation.
"Hey!! Stop!!" Little black homeless lady in big coat came running up the street. She was pointing at the back of my car like there was something wrong with it. I'm a bit sensitive about my car since its pushing 200,000 miles. You never know when the tailpipe is going to go up in flames. So I paused some more.
Mistake number two. Pausing again.
Homeless lady was at the car.
"Help Me! I'm homeless! I need a tampon! A pad! Anything!"
What? Mistake three was not pulling away immediately. But come on, when a lady needs a tampon it can sometimes be a desperate situation. I am a compassionate person and my car is usually filled with stuff like that. Unfortunately, this time, I couldn't find anything laying around that would help her.
Then she was at the driver's side window.
"Please m'am! Help me! I clean the church! I'm homeless! I'm bleeding. Don't you see, I gotta hold my pants. I need something. I had a miscarriage! I clean the church!"
I rummage around. Damn. I KNOW I have pads in here somewhere.
"Money?!" Do you have money? I can get some at CVS."
Oh lord. My inability to produce a tampon has made it come to this. I pulled three dollars out and handed it to her. Its karma. That three dollars might have gotten me a beer, but this lady was obviously in need. I had a square to spare.
Then she starts haggling with me. "Can I have five?!" And instead of driving away, I haggled back. "You can't get tampons for three dollars?" "Not at CVS. There's no dollar store around here. If I could get to a dollar store, but I can't" (Hell right, I'm not putting crazy bleeding homeless lady in my car. But she has a point. CVS can be a rip-off).
I seriously can't believe I was arguing with a homeless woman about the price of tampons. But, that's not the best part.
I rummaged around my bag - I was going to find a damn pad in there. I wasn't giving that woman two more dollars - but I didn't want her bleeding through her clothes either. Finally, I found the secret pocket (damn bag that I loved so much because of all its pockets!) and pulled out two Stayfree pads.
"Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" The homeless lady is jumping up and down. "Thank you! Praise the Lord! Thank you! Thank you!"
I hand her the pads.
Then, she says "I'll trade you! They gave me these."
And despite my protests, homeless lady throws three pantyliners into my car through the tiny crack in the window and runs away. She threw pantyliners at me!
I still feel slightly violated. They are still scattered about my car because I'm a little unwilling to touch them.
I relayed the story when I got to my meeting (complete with re-enactment of the throwing of the pantyliners. I'm sure their table feels a bit violated now too). The two women I was meeting were incredulous. They had never, ever had any homeless people ask them for anything. In fact, they seemed to think that the homeless population was limited to some crazy guy in front of the library. 15 years combined these ladies had lived and worked in the town and never encountered anything like my run-in. And didn't know anyone else with a similar story. Me? I'm in town for 3 minutes and the crazies come out.
I'm pretty lucky that way.