this man james

A few minutes ago, there was a knock on the door. Opening it, I felt an immediate flash of annoyance. It was James. Again. James is this man who asked for money, & then Bobby asked him to help us with yard work in exchange for said money, & then he started coming by regularly & when Bobby’s here, he asks for work, but when I’m here alone, he just asks for money. And he always rings the doorbell when Rose is napping, which isn’t awesome.

So I open the door, bracing myself to say no. “How you doin’, James?” “Not too good,” he replies. And he tells me that he has four little kids in his house & they don’t have power & they’re cold & he needs $60 to get the power turned back on, & he has $27, so he just needs $33 more. And he pulls these crumpled bills out of his pocket, & it’s all 5’s & 1’s that I assume totaled $27. And I realized that during all the times he’s come to our house… which has been for at least 2 years now… I never knew he had kids. How did I not know this? It was the crumpled bills that did it. That & the fact that I didn’t know he had 4 kids.

So I told him to hold on a second while I checked my wallet.

In the kitchen, I pulled out our envelopes. They’re all neatly labeled in a super-cute gray & yellow fabric – dry cleaning, pet care, household, entertainment, groceries. I emptied the entertainment envelope & walked back to the door. He was sitting in the rocking chair on our front porch, not rocking, holding his head in both hands. He had tears in his eyes when I gave him the money.

Bobby will probably tell me that I got got. That I’m gullible & a sucker & too easy. And maybe I am. Maybe I gave him the money just to ease my own conscience, the guilt of having an entertainment envelope when James & his kids don’t have power. Maybe I should have given everything in the dry cleaning & pet care & household envelopes too. Maybe I shouldn’t have believed him. I dunno. It just felt like the right thing to do.

So there’s that.


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