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Mary E. Coe

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Member Since: May, 2007

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Do You Have Any Change To Spare?
by Mary E. Coe   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

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If you could just let me have enough change to take the bus home; I would really appreciate it.

My washer broke down. I had to load every thing in the car and drove across the street to the laundry mat. Since I only lived across the street; I drove back home to do some chores while the clothes washed.

After approximately forty five minutes; I went back to the laundry mat. A young man, in his twenties, passed by, as I was opening the first of three washers. There was a strong urine scent, coming from my washer, I thought. I quickly closed the lid to the washer and immediately opened the second and third washed and bent down to smell the clothes. This was embarrassing, my clothes never smelled like this.

I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to face a middle age woman who was laughing so hard, tears were in her eyes. Relax, it’s not your clothes,” she said, she was still laughing. “I had the same experience, the first time he passed by me. “It was that young man who just passed by. Boy, does he smell! He is washing a load of clothes in back. He scented up the whole place when he emptied his smelly laundry into the washer.

Other people; standing around; joined in the conversation and laughters. One lady said he needed to get in the shower and stay for a week. A middle age gentleman laughed and remarked, “what about two weeks?”  I didn't think it was funny.  I felt sorry for the young man.  He seemed like such a nice young man.

After placing my clothes in two dryers, I went outside to get a book from my car. Again, I smelled the strong scent of urine and dirt. Then I saw the same young man that passed by me inside the laundry mat.

Something was very wrong with that picture. He was standing over the trash can holding a partially eaten sandwich, wrapped in soiled paper. He had taken it from the trash can. He was wiping something from the sandwich. I checked my purse, I only had twenty dollars and some change.

I was hesitant; I didn’t want to humiliate him. However, I went over to the young man and held the twenty dollar bill out toward him. “Will this help?” I asked. The young man quickly took the money. He was speechless. His eyes suddenly filled with tears. I knew he appreciated it and it was much needed.

On another day, I was parking my car in the lot at the grocery store. I saw this healthy man approximately, 39 years old. I noticed him go from person to person asking them something. Everyone shook their head and walked on by.

He approached me as I was going into the store. He said, Hello, Miss, I’m sorry to bother you, but, I was stranded out here all day, almost eight hours. My car broke down, I’m between jobs. My wife doesn’t have a car to pick me up. If you could just let me have enough change to take the bus home; I would really appreciate it. I’m just trying to get home.

I gave him a five dollar bill. He thanked me and said he appreciated my help.

Approximately four months later, I was in the same store shopping. A clean cut man was stocking the shelves. He smiled and said “Hello.” He acted as if he knew me. I said hello, and was about to be on my way. Then he said, “You haven’t the slightest idea of who I am; do you?” I had to agree with him. I said, “you have the wrong person.” He answered, “Oh, no I don’t. I will never forget you.”

He said that I helped him when he was down and out. He asked if I remembered a man coming up to me and asking for bus money to get home. My car broke down.  He explained. "I was between jobs."

Now I remembered something like that, I remembered the day. The man said, you gave me five dollars without any questions asked. Then he told me that on the day we met, he had filled out a job application at another company not far away. He stopped at this store to pick up another application. When he returned to his car; it was out of gas. He had been out side the store for hours; trying to get a dollar for bus fare home.

He said he had given up and almost didn’t ask me. He was expecting to be turned away again; instead he got a five dollar bill. He added, that since he didn’t look homeless, people thought he was scamming them. He said a few men told him to get a job. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill, and held it out toward me. I shook my head, and said. I never take back a gift. However, you can repay me by helping somebody in need. We shook hands.

I felt good that I helped this person, even though he wasn’t homeless; at the time he needed somebody’s help.

One of the saddest things I’ve seen was this elderly woman, in her seventies. It seemed all her belongings were in three grocery carts. I drove past her at intersections a few times. She would push one cart across the street. Then she would go back for the other carts, one at a time; until she got all three across.

She was a very proud woman. She refused help, she said it was good exercise for her. Sometimes she would do someone a favor and let them help her with the carts. Several people looked out for her. Even people that owned mama- papa stores.

I chatted with her a few times, when I stopped to give her $10.00 or $20.00 dollars. It seemed she would accept a place to shower and comb her hair; because she was always so clean and her hair was always neatly combed or brushed. However, she preferred living life her way. Senior citizen homes were not for her. I understood she got social security and retirement checks; however, it wasn’t enough to pay rent and be able to eat and buy clothes.

She was a very intelligent woman, and seemed well educated. My conversations with her were always very interesting. She had many friends that stopped to talk with her. But, she never spoke of her family. She was a very private person. I never asked her any questions. We just chatted about things in general.

Eventually, I stopped seeing her. I got the understanding from others, that she sometimes changed areas. She touched the hearts of so many by just being as sweet as she was.

There are so many people in the United States that are homeless and hungry for so many different reasons. Some are veterans with little or no income. Some are people who just don’t make enough money to survive. Some lost their way to substance abuse. Some are mentally ill.

There are so many different reasons why people are homeless and hungry or both. When I give the little that I can afford to a homeless or a hungry person; I always walk away knowing it just wasn’t enough; and it would only go so far. That person will be hungry or homeless tomorrow.

That’s what prompted me to write this song:

Somewhere, someplace, sometime
There must be hope for the hopeless
Rest for the restless, food for the starving In this world,
There must be clothes, for the clothes-less
Homes for the homeless Help for the helpless In this world

There are people living in the streets
Babies born no food to eat
Mother’s cry with new born in her arm
Knowing to pain her little child will belong

There’s so much sick too little help
So much hunger, too little food
Are there not enough of us to care?
I’ve been blest, there’s shelter over me
Got health, work, and food to eat
Sick and starving it is all around;

There must be something we can do
People just like me and you
How can we help the sick and needy too?

So many people living in the street
Babies born no food to eat
Some old folks as lonely as can be
It would be nice if you and me
Could take away their lonely tree
And, oh, how happy those old folks would be
In this world, Oh, in this world In this world
someday will belong;

So many people living in the street
Babies born no food to eat
Mothers cry with new born in her arms
Knowing to pain, her little child will belong
Knowing to pain, Her little child will belong.         



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