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Mission Possible, and Turd Minefields

I know, it’s been  ages since I wrote. Then all of a sudden you get 2 posts!  Life gets in the way, and with a husband, two kids, a full time job, kids activities, the holidays and all the PEOPLE-ING, this introvert is spent.  That being said,a few weeks ago was Christmas, which means more chaos, money, and stress than usual.  So, it’s been a little hectic, to say the least.  Especially because in true fashion, I gave myself extra jobs, one of which being to try to be less of an asshole, and to teach my kids how not to be assholes.

I THOUGHT I was ahead of the game this year.  I started shopping in November, got the kids’ main gifts ordered and ready, and was trucking along.  After all, I had shows or trips planned every weekend through December, so I knew I had to plan ahead.  I could not procrastinate.  (Yeah, right). Things were going seemingly on schedule.  Then about 3-4 days before Christmas I got a call from a young woman I had met last year.  When I met her last year, I met her through facebook.  She had posted on a local tag sale facebook page that she and her long term boyfriend had both lost their jobs right before Christmas.  She was struggling to put together a Christmas for her kids, and asked if anyone had any gently used toys they could donate.  I saw the post and my usually cold little heart cracked a little.  I rounded up some toys, got a gift card from a store so she could pick out an item or two, and took them to her.  A few days later, my husband and I picked up one of the kids’ big Santa wishes, and we were able to give her son a bike.  She was beyond grateful and thanked us profusely.  For me, seeing a picture of her kids opening their presents and knowing those parents had one less stress, if just for a moment? Well, that’s what made MY Christmas special.  We became facebook friends, and while I didn’t see her in person again, I did see that they both got jobs after the holiday.  The kids were growing up, they were getting back on their feet.  It made me happy.  Then, a few weeks ago, right before Christmas, I saw on facebook she was hospitalized for over a week.

When she messaged me a few days before Christmas this year, she did so to ask if I knew of any organizations who would still accept families in need of toys etc for Christmas.  I didn’t know any, but as a mom, her question pierced my heart.  I told her to leave it with me.  I would see what I could find out.  I also found out she and the kids were currently in a women’s shelter after losing their apartment.  That made my heart break more.  She had worked so hard, come so far, only to have it slip away.  I got to work.

In a couple of days, between friends, family, some strangers, and ourselves, we were able to provide toys and needed items for the kids, gift cards for the grocery store and walmart, and some cash.  I had jumped into coordination mode, and thanks to the generosity of others, we made some magic happen.  The relief on her face was so evident, that after we hugged and I left, I cried for quite a while.  I saw pics later of her Christmas morning,  The kids had smiling faces, but I think my smile may have been even bigger for knowing that perhaps I had lightened another mom’s load just a little bit.

They say giving is often better than receiving, and I was on a high from the above.  Mainly because I try hard to show the kids about doing kind acts.  This is what moms are supposed to do, right? So I jumped into my second round of kindness, only it didn’t go as planned.  In fact, it went completely the opposite way.

So, I love Facebook.  Let me rephrase, I love Facebook, yet I think Facebook is the killer of person to person socializing. Maybe it’s because I am an introvert, but I love being able to keep up with friends and family from anywhere.  Anywho, I was on Facebook one day, and saw a post on our town’s women’s page from a woman who had had a medical issue and been rushed to the hospital.  She was in her 60’s, and said she had no friends or family.  Now being the cynical person I am, I thought “nobody?  perhaps she is a tiny bit of an asshole”.  Now I know that sounds harsh.  It is.  But if you’re 90 and you have nobody, I assume everyone you had died off at some point.  But 60’s seems too young for that.  She mentioned she had 2 cats, and that she was worried about them.  Her neighbor was feeding them, but hated cats.  She also mentioned she was worried about the litter boxes, as she had been hospitalized for a couple of days and therefore the boxes must be in pretty bad shape.  There was talk that she may have a tumor.  Cancer was mentioned.

Part of me felt like….something about this makes me feel like maybe I shouldn’t get involved.   But Cancer.  Cancer will get me every time.  Every Time.  I figured I could go change a litter box.  It would ease her worry.  I could show kindness.  So I volunteered.

Off I go.  I get the key from the neighbor.  Before I go into the house, the neighbor asks me to call the woman.  She wants to tell me a few things.  So, I call.  I learn the boxes are in the basement and that there are boxes of latex gloves, liners, and litter there. I think, great. Annnndddd that’s when she tells me she is not so good with the boxes. She plans to get better at it.  She tells me she has physical limitations and that there is  YEARS WORTH OF USED KITTY LITTER IN GARBAGE BAGS IN THE BASEMENT.   She also tells me that if she hasn’t changed the boxes in a bit the cats will go on the floor, but that there is a broom and dustpans to clean it up.  If you could have seen my face.

horror

But I’m locked in.  I said I would do it, right?  So I tell her not to worry, and I hang up and enter the house.

The first thing I notice is that the basement light does not work.  Now, I went there the day after Christmas, and my husband had gotten me an Apple watch.  My phone was suffering from Apple’s battery issue, and as soon as I tried to turn on the flashlight, it died.  I find myself then going “hey siri, turn on a flashlight!” Nothing.  I am trying to get some sort of beacon of light to shine from this Apple watch and I have nothing.  I haven’t learned how to work it yet.  I glance into the basement darkness.  I feel like I am descending into murder.  Unsuccessful at finding any light source, I brave it down the stairs. I make it to the bottom, find another light that goes to an adjacent room, and flick the switch.

Behold, a turd minefield awaited.   Turds, everywhere.  The room had turd mines all over the floor.  The litter boxes had pee above the litter they were so soaked.  This wasn’t a case of the boxes not being cleaned for 5 days.  These boxes hadn’t been cleaned in a month and a half (as evidenced by the sticky note detailing the date I later noticed in the kitchen.)  Hork.

Part of me went “Oh hell NAW!”

And part of me said “you gave your word you would do it, now just do it”.

So I cleaned it all.  I cleaned the turds, I cleaned the floor.  I cleaned the boxes, and made everything nice.  I found one of the cats and coaxed it out of hiding and petted it for a while.  Then I went home and wanted to light myself on fire.

Now somehow, some way, and I’m not sure how, I got roped into daily cat duty.  There was a small group of women from town who banded together and worked magic.  I took over most of the cat duties, with another lady checking in once or twice to assist.  I shoveled her drive and deck in a snowstorm.  I got all the garbage bags of used listter removed from the house.  Another lady started a gofund me and raised enough money to fix the ill woman’s furnace and fill her oil tank (she had been living without heat for some time and it was BRUTALLY cold out.)  She had the furnace fixed and the house now had heat.  Another woman who has a cleaning agency came in and cleaned the house.  These women worked MAGIC, all while this woman was in the hospital. One lady started a meal train, where people in town would sign up to cook and bring meals to the woman (we’ll call her Sue) when she came home from hospital.  I was so happy.  My kids thought all this was so awesome and we were all warm and fuzzy from watching all the random acts of kindness!

And then, it turned.  Oh, did it turn.

A late night FB post by Sue, (the ill woman) about the meal train.  Saying she really ate fresh fish and veggies, all this fancy stuff, and that if people were going to cook meals they should cater specifically to her tastes otherwise it wasn’t really giving freely.  The post was so…..demanding and full of expectation.  I blinked.  I read it twice.  The line where she mentions she doesn’t eat a lot of pasta, I almost choked on.  Her garbage can was in her pantry and I had seen shelves of pasta in there where tossing out used paper towels etc.  I was shocked by the entitlement.  Was this due to her meds?  Nope, apparently it wasn’t.   This was her.  I found out later she is a bit of a “give an inch and she expects a mile” type of person.  People were furious at her posts.  The help dwindled and offers to help started to drop off immediately.  The meal train? Well, thanks to the recipient, it DERAILED.  I was still going to the house daily, often multiple times, looking after her cats.  The woman then messaged me saying “what a shame the cats aren’t up to date on their shots, or you could bring them to visit me in the hospital every day!  They also need their nails trimmed, here’s the name of my vet.”

side-eye-riri.png

I had to politely tell her no.  The cats were clearly frightened and while they would come out for me, would not appreciate being put in carriers and hoisted around town.  Not only that but I didn’t have the funds to pay her vet bill.

The issue I faced, however, was that my surgery was looming and I needed to find a replacement.  I had to leave the situation, and even though this woman was quickly alienating people, I didn’t want her cats to suffer. There was a small group of the women who were in a chat about the cats.  All were in rescue but me.  I told them we needed to find a replacement.  One posted on her rescue page looking for someone to volunteer, and two people did.  One seemed nice, although other people were iffy, and the other one seemed off to me.  There was a third person and the “off” woman went above and beyond to tell us all we should not pick the 3rd person as she was “too eager to get in the house” and too controlling.  The fact is, I needed someone, so I agreed to meet the two women at the house and show them in.  I showed them where the small group of us that had been in the house hid the key, I showed them the food donations, where the litter was, the cats’ favorite hiding spaces were.  The “off” one was rushing me saying she had to get home.  I left feeling even more uncomfortable about her.  I preferred the other woman.  Before they left, I told them women I would stop by over the weekend, to check the cats, say goodbye to them (I had grown very fond of the cats) and see if any shoveling needed to be done (a storm was coming). Everyone was fine with this.

Fast forward two days, and I messaged them I was planning to head over to the house at some point that day.  The off one replies that it’s fine, however I need to be “escorted” into the house now that they have taken over.  I was told by the other that they didn’t want a hassle if anyone were to “steal” anything.  They told me they had made copies of the key, took the original, and had removed it, so i would need an escort in the house to enter it.    Really?  Funny that I hadn’t needed an escort to go in and look after the cats for weeks.  Funny that I hadn’t needed an escort to clean boxes of piss and a minefield of turds (while wearing my favorite boots, may I add!) out of the basement.  I also hadn’t needed an escort to remove 15 -20 bags of used cat litter out of the house.  Yet suddenly, here we were.  I told them I was offended by the implication and that I suddenly needed an “escort” when I had looked after the house and cats for weeks. For me, it wasn’t about getting into the house, as honestly, I couldn’t care less.  It was about the principle of the matter and being treated like I was shady.  My response of being offended must have triggered her, because I got a long response that included phrases that she had taken over and “was in charge” now, and then it took a very accusatory turn where she indicated I might have ill intentions.  I was left pretty much like this:

MrRogers

Annnnd, I told her to eff off.  To which she responded she was “calling the police” on me.  Really?  It’s a sentiment, not a crime.   Sure, it’s not my prettiest of words, but to know me is to know I have a mouth like a sailor.  So after she sent me nasty messages back and then taunted me about going in for a hysterectomy, she blocked me.  Turns out, the next day, she posts on the town page acting like she has been doing all the work all along.  That’s when people who know me, who knew all the work I had done, completely under the radar, went ballistic.  (My friends are awesome, just sayin’)  I was getting screen shots (since she blocked me I couldn’t see the original post) but what I also got was some really awesome messages from women around town, who learned I had been helping under the radar and thought it was nice. I got to meet some new people, so that was pretty cool.

Turns out, the “off” woman ended up starting a bunch of trouble on the town page and getting blocked.  Apparently she has a bit of a dark side herself.   She is now Sue’s bestie, although if I’m honest I think she has an underlying motive in all of this.  I wish Sue all the best.  Yes, she can be demanding, entitled, and she’s a little different, but I worry about what this woman’s intentions to her may be.    I still hope she is ok and will be alright.  I miss her kitties. They were sweet and gentle.

When all this went down, I had to explain to the kids a bit of what happened and that I wouldn’t be going to the house.  They had come with me a few times and had coaxed the cats out of hiding and played with them.  The cats took to them right away and vice versa.  I am not sure the cats had seen children before.  They were bummed.  They knew the work I had done, and that my message to them was to do kind things for other, to help out other people if they could, and all those good mom messages.  Their end take of the experience?  “being kind isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be”.

So…….that didn’t work out quite as planned.

 

 

 

 

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Good Deeds and One Decision

Every now and again, I try to do a kind deed.  Whether it be buying coffee for the person behind me at Dunkin Donuts, or doing a little surprise for a stranger.  Usually I do it when I am having a horrible day, not because because I feel I will get repaid in any sort of way, but because the thought of making someone smile a little brings a little spark to an otherwise crapfest of a day.  Usually I do things where I won’t see the person’s reaction, and I’d like to think it’s a happy one.  I feel like when the world seems like it’s in chaos, a little kindness feels grounding.  Mr Roger’s said his mom told him to “look for the helpers”.  I’d like to be a helper.  My husband is a helper.  He sometimes gives money to panhandlers and when I have asked him why he gives knowing they are often scammers, he gave me an answer that stuck with me.  He said it’s your intent when you give a hand, not their intent.  He gives freely, with no expectations, with no judgement. He grew up volunteering at a homeless shelter.  Giving is in his nature.

Yesterday I dropped the kids off to school, and promptly saw the gas light was on in the car.  I headed over to the gas station, only to see that they couldn’t accept cards, so I went to the one across the street (why the put identical businesses across the street is beyond me, but yesterday I was rather thankful for it.  I went in my bag to get my card out and a face appeared at my window.  I won’t lie, it unnerved me.  I sat there, unsure what to do.  I cracked the window and the man started telling me his story.  Said his car had broke down near the highway and he needed a new serpentine belt.  Said his AAA wasn’t paid up, and that he needed $16 dollars to get a new one (he had taken the max atm withdrawal out. but was short.  It was a scam.  I knew he was bullshitting me.  At first I was afraid he wanted a ride and I said I was sorry, but no way could I put a stranger in my car.  He laughed and said no way would he expect that. He was just trying to raise $16 dollars.  He told me about his job, handed me his passport, which looked dogeared.  The name he gave me matched the passport, and the picture matched his face.   Even though I knew I was likely being lied to, I gave him the money.  He handed me a piece of paper with his email, and he left.  I went to put gas in the car, and as I did so, I watched him run across to the other gas station, grab a backpack, and hope on a white bike.  I watched him ride off.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  Clearly, his story was bogus if he had a bike nearby.  I felt sad.  Not for the fact I had been scammed, because I had surmised it was a scam all along.  I felt sad because he had needed to do it.  Normal people don’t go around scamming people.

Later than day, I pulled out the paper with the email address.  It was a name@gmail type of email, so I looked up the name.  My friends nicknamed me Angela Lansbury a few years ago because I could “find” or “locate” people.  I found it a relaxing hobby, and was able to find some long lost relatives for friends of mine.  In the age of computers, it’s not all that hard to do.  I found his facebook profile.

What I saw was a bit shocking. I saw he had been arrested a few times for trespassing and possession. That fell in line with the scam.  Then I sawwe  grew up in the same town.  He was clearly at some point quite affluent, as there were pictures of him on his boat, at a yacht club, and info about his business.  I also saw that he was facebook friends with some of my friends.  Interestingly, he was friends with my old ex, who wasn’t on my facebook page, but who I saw on his friends list.  It was utterly bizarre.  Was his story real after all?  He appeared to be much more affluent than I was.   I messaged one of our mutual friends who had ended up dating my ex for some time after he and I split.

She responded to me this morning.  Her story was an interesting one.  Apparently this guy had lived with her and my ex for a while.  They were really good friends.  Then over time he started acting off and got into drugs.  He left and struggled with addiction.  He would pull himself out of it, and then fall back in.  He had cleaned up for a while, gotten married, and then his wife passed.  She told me that I had done a kind thing, but that he had likely sunk back into drugs.  It seemed odd because recent facebook posts had him seemingly on the ok track.

I’m left saddened.  The fact is, I may have met him in my younger years.  We clearly hung around the same people.  He was obviously doing quite well for himself, and now is left asking a check to check mom of two for money.  I feel a bit foolish for giving it.  I feel like I may have enabled him, which makes me feel like my good deed fell to a bad one.  Mostly, I feel just sad.

I have always told people “you are always just one small decision from a whole new life”.  I have told my children this, and I believe it.  One small decision can change one’s whole path in life, either for the better, or for the worse.  I tell my children this so that they will be mindful of consequences, but also so that they know that no matter how bad life gets, a small decision can set you on a new path to a happier life.  In other words, you can always change your life if you aren’t happy. I wonder how some choices ended him up in that gas station parking lot.

Part of me wants to email him and just let him know that I hope he’ll be ok in life.  Part of feels like I need to let it go.

 

 

Only Kindness Matters

  
it’s been a while since I wrote. Life has yet again caught up to me, but as the holidays approach, my mind is bubbling over with words and stories to share.  It’s late, and I should be in bed, but today’s events have me wide awake and filled with emotions. I have to get it out of my head so I can rest this tired brain. 

I occasionally see a free share/giveaway site on my facebook page.  I try not to pay it much mind because I am already fighting the battle of “stuff” and have been on the kids to join me in said battle. In other words, I am trying to get rid of stuff, rather than bring more in.  I saw a post the other day from a woman thanking people, because without their generosity in donating things, she would not have been able to provide her family with a proper Christnas.  Now, I will say that while I believe the spirit of Christnas isn’t about stuff, my mom always went big at Christmas.  Christmas was magical when I was a kid. My mom and dad did spoil me quite a bit, but my mom in particular went out of her way to add a magic feel about the season (when she wasn’t freaking out with stress over getting everything done….oh, I am SO my mother.)

The post got me thinking about how lucky we are I got a small bonus from work this year.  It will allow me to pay a big bill that’s looming over us, and I was able to treat my husband and the kids to a few nice gifts.  Out of it all, I purchased myself one book as a treat (Humans of NY Stories, because it’s beautiful and fascinating). That’s it. I said I would allow myself another treat for about $25 and call it a day. That would be my portion of a years’ worth of work of a bonus.  I was thinking about this post, and how impressed I was with the simple “thank you”.  It had me mulling over Christmas, both this year, and my Christmases of childhood.  It was in that frame of mind when I saw another post pop up later that day.  It was from a mother of two asking for help to find you donations because she had lost her job before the holidays.  I felt the fear. I remembered losing my job and wondering what we would do. How would we manage? I was lucky to get a severance package when I was laid off.  She didn’t seem to have the same benefit.  

The kids and I found a toy or two, and I posted asking if she would like them.  She said yes, gratefully, and we arranged a pickup day of today.

Feeling useful, I posted various other free toys to the site, and they were quickly claimed by people looking to add some extra toys at Christmas.  All except 2 were going to come to pick the items up from my house the following day while I was at work, and it was supposed to rain. I carefully wrapped all of the toys in plastic, put the people’s names on them, and sealed the names in ziplock bags.  Everyone except one person showed up.  I messaged that one person and they never responded.  I was irked about the no call, no show.  I raced home tonight to pick up the toy to meet up with the woman who had lost her job. Feeling a bit disillusioned after the no show the day before from someone else, I messaged her to confirm she was still interested (she was) and that she still was going to meet me.  She told me she couldn’t, and apologized profusely saying she had messaged those she was supposed to pick up things from but had somehow missed me.  Turns out her car got towed.

Yep.  It got towed because she was behind a ridiculously small amount on a car tax bill, and now she not only had the bill, but she had to pay for the car to get out of impound.  As my son said “so if you can’t oh the bill, they make it more expensive and then make it impossible to get there to pay it?”  I told y’all he is a smart kid.  I mulled it over and offered to drive to her house about a half hour away. She seemed surprised I would do so, and said she felt bad about it, but I told her I was in the mood for a drive.  Off we set, the kids and I.

When we arrived, she came outside and was so….nice.  Just so nice! And I could tell she hadn’t really wanted to ask for help that way.  I told her I understood, and that losing your job is scary enough.  Losing your job when you have kids and it’s Christmas is heartbreaking.  She was grateful for the toys and I explained I would look for more things for her.  We were two moms, talking about love of our kids, loss of jobs, tough times, and trying to make magic for our kids in a scary world.  She said the hardest part is that her oldest child wants the more expensive toys and  she had tried to explain it might be tighter Christmas.  Her daughter replied “it’s ok, that’s what Santa is for!”  My heart cracked a little. I imagined how she must feel heating her daughter say that, and the stress she must feel to keep the magic of Santa alive a little longer.  I reached into the car and handed her a gift card, explaining I had picked it up for a store that sold clothes and toys, so she could have something new to give them.  Tears welled and she grabbed me and hugged me.  Best $25 dollar gift I could have gotten for myself out of that bonus check was getting her that gift card and getting a hug in the street from a stranger. 

I left her house, and I thanked the kids for donating their toys, and explained how the little boy would probably be very happy with them and love the toys as much as they had.  We talked about kindness.  About being helpers.  I quoted Jewel and said “in the end, only kindness matters”.  

After they were in bed.  I spent a lot of time thinking about that mom.  The holidays are a tough time for me as I miss my mom TERRIBLY at Christmas, probably more than any other time of year.   It’s hard to grieve when you’re supposed to be happy and Christmassy.  I thought about all the stresses I have, but at least I have a job and we scrape by.  Sometimes we barely scrape by, but we do. I know the mom I met tonight is sad and scared and frustrated. I thought about what she had said about her daughter, about the big toy and her belief Santa would bring it to her. That’s what got me in the feels. What made big fat tears roll down my cheeks.  That little girl believes in magic. And that should never be dulled.  I looked up the toy. I know anyone who follows my Twitter will roll eyes or smirk when I say this, but I used my trusty Ebates and after working codes and cash back, saved over a third on it in the shopping cart. I decided to mull it over.  After all, we are pretty strapped for cash ourselves.

My husband came home and we talked about our day.  I told him the story.  I cried through parts of it.  (I cry at commercials these days, he’s used to it). I told him the whole part, right up until the fact I had looked up this toy. I wanted to see what he would say first.  He’s the more cynical of the 2 of us, usually, but he will give the shirt off his back to help people.  He grew up helping to run a homeless shelter, so people in need are always helped when he can.

“Well” he said, “I know we are strapped for cash and have a ton of bills…but maybe, just maybe we can get her that toy?” 

This? This is why I love him so.  

I explained I had already searched it and found coupon codes.  

I said “you know, it could all be a bunch of BS, all of it, but if we do it, we do it with an open heart on our side and not worry about if it’s legit or not on the other side, right?”  He agreed. He made a great point: “look, even if it’s all bogus, then probably things may not be thAt great for the kid regardless, right? So let’s help make magic for another child anyway.”

I’m ordering the item tomorrow.

Every child should believe in magic, and if I can help them believe, then I and my kick ass husband are going to. 

A few years ago, someone told me I do nice things but I talk about them, so it was Like was trying to get recognition for them. Sometimes I talk about doing things for others, sometimes I don’t.  When I do talk about them, it’s not to get recognition for them, it’s that I want to spur other people to do the same in doing an act of kindness, no matter how small.  Yesterday there was a mass shooting in California.  People went about their day and then didn’t come home. The Sandy Hook kids went to school a few years ago and didn’t make it out alive.  Evil is alive and well.  I can’t prevent all the evil from happening. I can only fight the evil with little acts of kindness, and try to inspire others to do the same. Love Wins, right? 

I’ve tried to help people in the past and it has blown up in my face. I got disheartened and angry.  My husband said it best when he told me that I needed to do the kind thing, with true intent, and if it wasn’t received well or he kindness was abused, to try to be kind anyway. I won’t lie, I benefit from it.  It feels great to do nice things for others!  It also feels like I am making magic in my mom’s memory.  She would LOVE the little plan to help this mom give a little Christmas magic to her kids.  It’s eased my grief a bit.

Well, I am off to bed.  Tomorrow I will see how to get the toy to the family with some Santa magic to keep a little girl believing for one more year.  Sorry for any typos. It’s late and I am sleepy.  Plus I had to write this from my phone with my tired old eyes trying to see the screen.

Be kind. Happy holidays!

Love,

Messy. Xoxo