Monday, March 31, 2008

Trying to help

The other night I when to an ATM machine to accompany a friend to deposit cash. There was 3 of us guys as it was a large amount of cash. We were all a bit cautious of who walked into the ATM room.

After we were done depositing the cash, an old indian lady walks in and approached us. She asked if we could help her, she showed us her Asthma inhaler and needed money to buy a replacement. I saw the price tag on it, it was RM189. She was begging us for money.

By then, my other two friends had walked back to the car already and were sitting in it watching me talk to her. I asked her where she was going to buy one, she said at the pharmacy. By then, it was already 11PM. No pharmacy was open. If this was an emergency, all the clinics and hospitals would have administered Ventolin. By then I sort of knew something was fishy.

I wanted to help but in the end, I didn't and walked back to the car. As I walked out of the bank, I saw an old Indian man sitting on a motorbike without a helmet waiting for her. In my mind, there were many scenarios playing out. If they could afford petrol money and had transport, they could have easily gone to the government clinic for help.

Back in the car, my friends were laughing at me and asked me why I talked to the lady for so long. I admit, I'm a sucker sometimes and I try help people as much as I can.

Once, when I was a student, I was at the LA International Airport waiting for a transit flight alone. There was a public announcement they kept playing over the PA system about not giving donations to people. An Iranian man approached me and asked if I could talk to him. Since I had time to kill, I thought why not. He pulled me aside out of the walking traffic and started talking. He told me a sob story about how he was tortured in the Iranian revolution and was now collecting money for charity in Iran.

I gave him some money, don't remember how much but I think it was either a 10 or 50 note. I wasn't thinking. I hope it did go to charity and not to a terrorist training camp. Looking back, I felt cheated.

When ever I visit a Buddhist temple, I always give generously. I remember visiting a temple in Cameron Highlands once. I only had a RM10 note to give out as charity. It was either to put it in the general donation box or the Dharma class donation box. I choose the Dharma class, I thought that at least I'll be supporting the spread of the Dharma with the small amount I gave.

I think the only time I am adverse to giving money is when I'm eating. I hate it when I'm eating at a hawker stall and someone walks up and accost me for a donation.I almost never give. Whether they're blind; holding up a picture book full of handicap children or old folks. I don't like to think of other things while I'm eating.

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