This morning, I opened the front door to leave for work. A woman happened to be walking past the house at that exact moment. She stopped, looked at me and said: “Salaam, kan jy asseblief vir my met ‘n doekie uit help.” (Translated: Please can you help me out by giving me a scarf.)
It seemed a strange request. People usually ask for food or money. Anyway, I told her: “Give me a minute. I’ll look for one for you.”
So back I went to rifle through my scarf drawer to look for one for this woman. I found two scarves in good condition that I no longer wear and thought that since I’m no longer making use of it, this woman could have it.
I noticed that her coat seemed a little dirty and worn and that one of her hand was wrapped in a bandage. The bandage looked old as well. I can’t be entirely sure if she’s homeless or if she was kicked out of her home. Perhaps she was released from hospital this morning (the bandage gave me that idea) and was headed back home. Anyway, she didn’t look like she was in the best of circumstances so I felt sorry for her and decided to help her out with the scarf she requested.
I went to the front door to hand them to her and she was nowhere to be seen. So I called out and she appeared again. She took the scarves and left.
At this point I went back inside to get my handbag. When I came outside, I saw she had taken one scarf and dumped the other one right there on the pavement in front of the next door neighbour’s house.
I was slightly peeved that after helping her out, she would discard one of the scarves I had given her. I wasn’t annoyed that I had lost a scarf. I wasn’t wearing it anymore anyway. I was annoyed that she would throw it away when I could have given it to someone else who would actually make use of it.
I left the scarf on the pavement and I hope that someone else comes along and is able to somehow make use of it.
This is not the first incident of this kind. I often see people knocking on doors for food and, if the food isn’t to their satisfaction, then dump it in a nearby bin.
I understand that my irritation at the throwing away of a scarf is nothing compared to what this woman’s situation is. It’s nothing compared to the homeless person discarding of food because they may not like it. I know there are many worse off than me and worse off than scarf lady even.
It is knowing there are many inequalities in society that I try not to be wasteful and try to help out where I can.
So when I see people worse off than me wasting, it makes me mad. Mostly, it just makes me sad.