A Question of Doing, for Seniors

Jan 8th, 2010 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare

Here’s a paradigm shift for you… is it possible to cut the need for social security benefits by actually doing for others and taking personal responsibility for the doing?

The following story has been around the Internet for several years; its author is unknown, but if someone will claim responsiblity for writing it, SCJ will be happy to give them the credit.

One day a man saw a old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her.

Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry. He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, ‘I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.’

Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire. But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid.

Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty, who had given him a hand in the past. He had lived his whole life that way, and it never occurred to him to act any other way.

He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, ‘And think of me.’ He waited until she started her car and drove off. It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight.

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The whole scene was unfamiliar to her. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase.

The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger.. Then she remembered Bryan . After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door.

She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin. There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: ‘You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.’ Under the napkin were four more $100 bills.

Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard…. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, ‘Everything’s going to be all right.’

This is a story about acting your belief system, not talking about it.  Now the following stories are true, known to SCJ editors personally.

In the past couple of years, an attorney in Phoenix began befriending homeless people who ‘sign’ (hold up a sign asking for money, usually on a busy intersection) making friends with them, finding out what they need and then figuring out how to meet some of those needs.  She has assisted two men move from the streets of Phoenix to a home in Flagstaff, where they now support themselves.  Another man is in process of applying for disability (Viet Nam Veteran), with her assistance; he is very meek and gentle.  The attorney’s mother invited him to share Christmas Day in their home, then the mother’s sister and brother-in-law invited him to sleep in their bed while they were out of town for three weeks.  It’s January, 2010, and very cold all over the nation.  But he is sleeping well, is warm, and actually misses the couple’s two dogs!  Fingers are crossed that his disability application gets approved soon so he can move in to an apartment he can afford.

A couple in Tucson exchange gifts with a several friends around the country.  This Christmas just past  found them giving a gift of honor for their many friends.  They donated money to a non-profit women’s organization that focuses on economic self-help programs.  What a gift that benefits so many!

SCJ would like to think it is possible for the many loving and caring people in the world, who have so much to give, might begin to take personal responsibility for those in need, and act out their loving and caring spirits in ways that really help the needy. 

There are more such stories out there.  Please send us yours and we will print as many as we can!

SCJ Editors

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  1. [...] No, “they are just welfare cheats.”  Just genuinely solid caring compassion.  SCJ posted an article about how some folk are doing this in Phoenix.  That is how to stay upbeat in a downbeat [...]

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