Begging For A Happy Ending

, , , | Hopeless | July 16, 2017

Story takes place outside of a deli type store, during a heat wave in the middle of the summer. In 2012 I find myself homeless due to enormous medical bills that leave me bankrupt. I don’t have a bed in a shelter yet and I am not proud but have been begging outside the store for some spare change, to get a bottle of water. I feel ashamed for begging but I haven’t had any water since the day before and feel so hot and weak. I have only had 35 cents so far.

An ambulance stops by for what I assume is snacks. The woman crew member apologizes and says she doesn’t have any spare change when I ask. I thank her anyway and resume standing outside.

The woman comes back out after about 5-10 minutes in the store. She approaches me and hands me a bag. Inside the bag is two large bottles of water and a sandwich. I break down crying from her generosity.

She then asks if I have someplace to stay and I tell her no. She asks if it would be okay if she makes a phone call on my behalf. What happens next is a miracle for me. She calls a homeless outreach program and tells them I have nowhere to go. Within an hour, a program counselor comes to pick me up and I have a shelter bed and access to food and water.

The shelter helped me find a new job and eventually helped me transition into my own place three months later. I never did catch the woman’s name, but she truly saved my life. I can only hope that she realizes how much of an impact she had on turning my situation around. I still call her my angel.

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  • SylviasDaddy

    Lots of kind people out there!

  • Michelle

    I hope to god that woman finds out somehow, how her actions that day saved someone.

    • Cerys Robinson

      You know what would be amazing? If the lady in question were to read this site, and she and OP got the chance to connect as a result of this story.

    • Ty Williams

      So many people just take it for granted that they’re doing the right thing for someone else, not expecting any thanks or recognition. I think it would be awesome if everyone made a kind gesture once in a while to those unsung heroes that do the right thing just because it’s right. *hugs everyone* My thanks for all your kindnesses, big and small.

  • EffityJeffity

    While I’m really glad for you, OP, this just shows how ridiculous the American healthcare system is.

    • Rebecca Charlton

      The very idea that someone could end up losing everything for the crime of getting sick is horrifying.

      • ValleyLeada

        It really is ridiculous. My dad was just fired for the crime of getting cancer. If we didn’t have extended family to help us, we’d be on the streets.

        • chickenface

          I was sick for 2 months (shingles followed by 2 months of vertigo) and then my daughter broke her arm, requiring surgery. We only barely met our deductible by the end of my daughter’s care, and will be paying the bills off off for the next 2 years. So we better not get sick next year, because it takes more than 1 year to pay off the deductible alone. BUT, at least I am insurable now. The episodic vertigo used to be a pre-existing condition and I could only get insurance at such a high price, but now our whole family is insured for about 25% more than what mine used to cost alone.

        • Rebecca Charlton

          It’s not even the getting fired, although that is gross on a whole ‘nother level and I’m extremely sorry that happened. It’s the idea that getting sick could be a financial burden over and above missing work. I’m 38 years old, have been getting migraines since I was 8, had 2 children with hospital births, broken a bone, had stitches, 3 surgeries, been in a car accident. Do you know what I havn’t had? A hospital or medical bill. Ever. Why? Because I live in a civilized nation that cares for its citizens and understands that sometimes you get sick or injured through no fault of your own, that’s why. Going to the hospital when you’re sick or injured is stressful enough. Having to wonder how you’re going to pay for it just adds an unneeded level of anxiety that doesn’t need to be there.

          • ValleyLeada

            Yes, absolutely! My family has their fair share of medical problems and it’s a huge financial burden when it really shouldn’t be. Your country has the right idea. As for the getting fired, my parents are trying to sue because it’s not okay to fire someone for missing a few weeks of work due to cancer, or any medical condition. It’s all messed up, really.

  • Kitty

    My eyes aren’t watering! Th-they are just tired…! Yeah, that’s it.

    • Katrin Schirmer

      who brought the onions?!?!?

      • I’M not crying, YOU’RE crying!

      • Ares Zax

        Those dang onion ninjas. >.>

        But on a serious note, I’m really glad you’re in a much better place now, OP. I hope things continue to look up for you. 🙂

  • Alexander Rubin

    “In 2012 I find myself homeless due to enormous medical bills that leave me bankrupt.”
    Gotta love the U S of A! /s

  • Katherine Alice Thompson

    I remember the heatwaves of 2012, I can’t imagine being stuck homeless at a time like that.

    • Mechwarrior

      Worse yet, that was when Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard.

  • Anne

    And this is why it shouldn’t be so hard for people in need to get assistance.

    OP was lucky to have someone stop by who knew “the right” number to call. That ambulance lady was amazing. Good for her.

    • allahboleh

      It’s not. This is exactly why I don’t give people cash, there are dozens (actually over 100 in my area) of organizations set up to help people. Those truly in need have access to a cavalcade of support. Handing people change serves only to put them in a situation to limp along or to enable a drug habit. If you want to *actually* help people, do what this woman did. Familiarize yourself with the organizations in your area and have printed sheets with contact info to give. Plus be willing to help out with immediate needs such as food, travel, hygiene, etc. until they can get integrated with some of the groups.

      • Anne

        There are plenty of places that give out food/food boxes, but if you need more than that you’re not going to get it unless you’re a single mother with no kids. Married couples with kids are next. Then single women. Couples and/or single men are last.

        I’m not saying that you should give spare change to everyone that you meet, but if you’re sober and have no kids, finding help is near impossible.

        The Phoenix metro area is one of the biggest in the country and we have less than a dozen or so homeless shelters, plus a handful of domestic violence shelters (in which you have 30 days to get in and out – women tend to go back to their abusers due to lack of resources). They’re all always full, plus there are more homeless besides. And they don’t always answer the phone. The offices that help people with bills when they’re not-quite-homeless are literally open one day a week, one only accepts calls for 1 or 2 hours per week, in the middle of the working day. Good luck if you’re working and you need assistance.

        I have friends across the country who tell me that it’s pretty much the same all over.

        So go ahead and donate to charities that you feel are worthwhile, but don’t pretend that anyone, anywhere, can get help whenever they need it. It’s simply not true.

      • AsaeAmpan

        You’re belief is completely and utterly false. Sure there are organizations EVERYWHERE but the problem is they are underfunded at best and are overcrowded ontop of that at worst. Very few can actually deal with the demand because many many people in this world believe that you have to earn it or suffer otherwise such as the fools who believe ‘socialized’ healthcare is bad.

  • Pogla

    We should update the motto from “Land of the free” to “Land of the fee”

    • allahboleh

      Why?

  • Joshua Marpet

    I wish I could do this. I want to help people. So I donate to charities that are legit. But I can’t help people on the streets. Everytime I offer food, water, fruit, even a JOB, I get told, “I just want cash”. It’s ridiculous. I feel like the fakes are outnumbering and overwhelming the people who actually need help. So frustrating.

    • John L

      And the sad part is that jades people to helping actual people in need. I used to give change to beggars, when I was young. I then saw the guy, bought a new pair of kicks. Then I happened to leave work late one day and saw the guy get into a car and drive off.

      I no longer give spare change, because of that guy….

      It’s true that one a$$hat can ruing it for everyone.

      • allahboleh

        There was a guy that begged at the offramp I took growing up. He was there ~4 months until I stopped seeing him. Then I saw a local news story where they followed the guy into his Cadillac. Turns out he’d lost his job as a paralegal and started begging to make ends meet til he found a new job. Once he found out he could make twice when he was making before with fewer hours he decided to keep begging. $600/day apparently.

        Don’t. give. cash. People begging don’t need money. They need help, but they don’t need money. Offer other help and if they refuse or get upset, you know you’ve dodged a faker. The people in actual need will be grateful.

    • Gabby Signs

      That’s how my family is. A few years ago, my family ate at Burger King and they accidentally gave us an extra sandwich. We planned to save it for leftovers but we saw a homeless guy on the way home. He seemed grateful for it

    • allahboleh

      That’s why you don’t give cash. I get so mad at the people milking the kindness of others as a way of life when there are people in actual need. I keep gift cards to local places so they can get food, and I’ve given rides on occasion, but I can’t recommend that as a general policy for safety reasons.

  • LittleMissCloud

    Water is free and highly accessible in my state so it baffles me there are states where you can’t get free water. Assistance is also fairly easy to get here though the fakers make it harder for those with a legitimate need to get help. I doubt it helps that the news ran a story about a group of “homeless” people who would leave at the end of the day in their Mercedes Benz. I still offer food to people but try not to offer cash.

    • Anne

      Water is technically free in AZ, but you do have to have your own container or they can make you pay for the cup. Not all clerks realize it’s supposed to be free, though, which is unfortunate. Not everyone who wants free water is a bum. Sometimes, you’ve forgotten your debit card and you don’t have quite enough spare change to pay for a soda.

      • LittleMissCloud

        I know as long as you have access to water in my state you don’t technically need running water if they do a well fare check on anyone in your home. I asked a social worker one time because a friend of ours was concerned but the social worker said if they can get water from a nearby park even if they have to carry it by the bucketful that counts as access to water. I think it is to help keep kids with their parents instead of kids being put in foster care for homelessness.

        • Anne

          Wow, that doesn’t count here. But there are still plenty of homeless kids staying with their families.

    • allahboleh

      I thought it odd OP was begging for change to get bottled water at $5/gallon when tap water is $0.02/gallon.

  • Vulpis

    *sigh* This is how assistance programs are *supposed* to work. The OP should have had the outreach readily available, not have to have it due to the luck of a knowllegable EMT coming by. (Before I get criticism…I mean this as a lament on the availability of the information and the program, not anything at all against OP)