I hesitated to tell you what happened last Wednesday for fear of blowing my cover and revealing myself as a Complete and Total Idiot but then I remembered how long I've been posting now. I'm sure you've all discovered my mental state many moons ago and I'm in little danger of revealing anything new.
I was on a mission to Fred Meyer, our local grocery/super store, to pick up a few things. As always I had Lillian by my side and as we walked through the parking lot and into the store I noticed a man in a wheelchair just inside.
To give you the full picture, he was probably 45 years old but looked closer to 70. His hair was gone, his scalp splotchy and crusted, and his bony, knobby fingers had yellowed nails that hadn't been trimmed in months and tapered to claw-like talons. Hidden behind thick lenses, his watery eyes gazed off to the side while his weak head lolled on his shoulder and he seemed only to have the strength to manipulate his electric wheelchair. He didn't look as if he had much longer to live and would be lucky to make it out of the store. The point is, if you didn't feel some sympathy and pity you'd have to be made of stone I tell you.
He was parked in front of a display of magazines as if he were having problems. He didn't seem to have the strength to lift his arm let alone pick up a magazine and I was just wondering if I should ask him if he needed some help when a store employee who seemed to know him approached and struck up a conversation.
"Oh, I guess he's taken care of," I thought with a touch of relief. Though I have good intentions, I don't always act as smooth and gracious as I'm aiming for and though I didn't want to ignore someone who might need help I worried about offending him by assuming he could use a hand and honestly, he was a little scary-looking.
So Lillian and I went happily through the store, grabbing the things we needed, filling our cart and finishing through the check-out lane. It was only a few minutes later when we were pushing the cart out the sliding doors and down the concrete ramp to the parking lot when there, in the middle of everything, was the same guy. He was completely still and given the fact that he was sitting there in the middle of the parking lot I made the assumption (and this wins the Nobel prize for genius) that he probably needed some help.
Wanting to do the right thing but a bit nervous I approached him. It wasn't hard as he was in the way, wasn't going anywhere and I couldn't get to my car without going around him. Remembering all those Good Samaritan lessons I'd heard over the years I got up the courage to timidly ask, "Um. Do you need any help?"
I couldn't hear his answer so I got a little closer. "Yes!" He said in a raspy, broken voice.
Relieved that I hadn't misjudged the situation I said, "What can I do?"
"Light my pipe."
Startled I said, "What?"
"Light my pipe," he repeated with a bit of a sneer as if I were stupid and at which point I noticed that grasped in one claw was a red pipe and hanging out of his jacket pocket was a lighter.
I don't know what I was expecting, maybe a request to push him to his car, to be taken inside, to make a phone call, whatever, but not this. If you don't know me you may not realize what a sheltered life I've led. I've never smoked, don't like it, and haven't the faintest idea how to light a pipe--though it seems pretty intuitive--but in that micro-second I had all these quick thoughts:
"Oh my gosh, he wants me to light his pipe . . . I don't really approve of smoking . . . but I asked him if he needed help . . . I can't back out now . . . what do I do??" It seemed pretty rotten when he was in such bad shape to just leave him with a lecture about the health concerns of smoking--I was guessing that smoking was the least of his problems--so I reached for his lighter and weakly flicked it a couple times. At least I know how those work.
I figured I was supposed to hold the flame at the bowl so that's what I did, and in a second there was smoke coming up but just as I put the lighter back in his pocket the smoke reached my nose and I was hit by "OH MY GOSH THAT'S NOT TOBACCO SMOKE!"
Great Googly-Moogly I'd just lit a bong. At least I think it was a bong. Maybe it was a bong. Okay I'm not entirely sure what a bong is, I'll have to look it up but that wasn't your regular old tobacco smoke coming from that little red pipe. I, who'd never smoked in my life, had just (in front of my daughter no less) lit up some guy's weed. Great. Just great. Holy Cow. To anyone's observation I was standing in the middle of the Fred Meyer parking lot pushing drugs on a poor invalid with a preschooler in tow. I looked nervously over my shoulder expecting to see the entire church congregation staring at me.
He didn't even say thanks and I left him sitting there with it in his hand as I rushed to get the groceries in the car, afraid he'd next ask me to hold it to his lips or help him inhale. I did a quick panic, wondering if I'd broken the law or anything. "No, no," I thought. "I'm pretty sure that it's legal to smoke for medicinal purposes. And if that guy isn't a poster child for the nearly-dead I don't know what is." I figured I was safe from any jury but nonetheless I objected on general moral principles.
So there I was, trying to be a Good Samaritan, going around helping guys in wheel chairs smoke drugs. In the middle of the Fred Meyer parking lot. With Fruit Loops in my cart and my daughter watching it all go down. I could visualize the headlines: "Felony Amid the Fruitloops: Housewife Gets Seven to Ten." If there's a Stupid Prize I'd win--whoever said "No good deed goes unpunished" should have met me, I'd give them something to think about.
What in the world should I tag this post with? I can't think of anything I'd want the search engines to read--maybe I should have titled it "Come on Baby Light My Fire."
Congratulations to Angela from Bryan, Texas for winning The Paper Princess stationery and pen set from the last Saturday Giveaway. Join me next Saturday for another random drawing--it's going to be good I guarantee. This time I've got two prizes . . .
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