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Apr-15-2014 14:57TweetFollow @OregonNews
But for the Grace of GodToni Samanie Salem-News.com
I will always wonder what happened to the very sad woman and the happy little guy named Simon.
(OKLAHOMA CITY) - Today, when I was out running errands I saw an older woman and a young boy panhandling on the side of a very busy street. Yes, I admit, it was the young boy that gave me pause.
The woman was holding the boy’s hand and with her other hand was holding up one of those handmade, brown, ragged cardboard box signs. It was written in such a way I could not discern her plea but that didn’t matter.
As I sat there at a red light right next to the two, I scrambled to find some money to give. When on a mission sometimes I am oblivious to what is going around me but my passenger kept me on the straight and narrow and told me the light had turned.
Frustrated that I only found a couple of dollars I reluctantly proceeded forward and turned right at the light. Much to the dismay of my companion, I quickly made another right into the parking lot where the two beggars were stationed. I drove right up to the lady and her young charge and started to ask her some very personal questions. It is probably not proper etiquette to do so, but I really wanted to get a sense of what was going on. Admittedly, I was concerned for the welfare of the young lad. The woman (as many who are weary and beaten) was very forthcoming with her answers.
Have you ever been to the point where you just are so broken it just doesn’t matter anymore?
I asked a series of questions and, frankly, don’t even remember the first one I asked. I was more interested in studying her and her response. Not being at all judgmental but wondering if she was coherent and not a druggie, alcoholic or worse.
I usually look at people with great compassion and sympathy when they are begging out on the street corners, occasionally buying them meals and drinks. I try not to give cash as I don’t want to contribute to whatever bad habits might be involved. I guess I have heard one too many times about enabling. But this was different. There was a small child in tow.
So, I queried the woman as to what was going on. She said she needed rent money. She was short a few days worth but would be getting a pay check soon. To me that was a great answer. She was at least employed, but obviously, not gainfully enough. She disclosed that her mother had just died and I said how so very sorry I was.
Then she went on to tell of other harsh realities.
I sympathized with her and told her the old cliché about if she didn’t have bad luck she wouldn’t have any at all. She laughed and agreed. All the while I placed $20.00 in her hand and she tucked it away.
She didn’t even look to see how much it was. Then I asked her how long she had been on the street corner and she confessed, not long. She said she had never done anything like this before but she was desperate and she had seen men do it. She figured she would give it a shot. She disclosed that in the short time she had been on the street corner no one else had made a contribution.
I worried about her and the child. She said she was very careful and had the lad on her side that was away from the street. That didn’t really help my concerns for their safety but again told me volumes in her response.
She was thinking of the little one and not of herself. “Have you considered going to a shelter”, I asked. “No”, came the response. The lady didn’t want to subject her grandson to that kind of environment as she looked down on him with that very motherly kind of love. Her reply rang so true and without hesitation that it was evident she was thinking of the welfare of her little man.
During this exchange the little boy, still clinging to grandma’s hand, was very controlled and looked as if he were at a school play or movie, content to just listen and watch. Not looking older than three, I asked his name and he told me, “Simon”. Then he smiled one of those innocent –happy just to be me smiles. He wanted me to see his boots. He lifted one off the ground to show me. “Wow, those are very nice boots”, I said with as much cheerfulness I could muster.
But, I was crying inside.
My companion was growing impatient and it was time to get back to the chores at hand. He chided me for being a soft touch and said that the old woman was probably just going to buy booze. He did say I had a kind heart. But I didn’t feel so kind. I felt really crummy.
The chores took about a half hour to complete and our path took us back toward the same street corner.
I searched for the lady and Simon, but they were gone. So, her panhandling career was all totaled about an hour. I wonder if in that time period others saw what I saw and gave her enough funds for the rent. My friend said, “She is probably happy right now buying some liquor”. I don’t regret giving her the $20.00. My big regret is I didn’t ask at what motel she was staying. If they were still there I had said to myself I would find out where it was and pay for the couple of nights or week that she owed. Yes, I am on a fixed income and this isn’t about seeking any recognition at all. Initially there was pity and concern for the little one but after talking with his grandmother my heart opened up even more. I will always wonder what happened to the very sad woman and the happy little guy named Simon.
Until last year Toni Samanie was a standard-issue grandmother and mother. She lived life like most ordinary citizens. She worked in a successful sales environment and brought enthusiasm and a win/win attitude to the customers she helped. Then tragedy struck her most regular of families and she lost her 38 year-old son-in-law due to poly-pharmacy. She also has an orphan disease which has enabled her to see the fallacy behind the idea that doctors and pharmaceutical companies are straining day and night to "cure" people like her. Once married to a physician she has had a special view of the medical fraternity from within.
Always an avid reader especially with regard to American History. Having been reared near Manassas' Bull-Run and Fredericksburg, VA she has a fondness for Civil War History and West Point War Strategy. Coincidentally, she is the daughter and step-daughter of two Marines who fought in the Korean War. She grew up in the small civilian town of Quantico, Virginia surrounded by the Marine military base and Navy hospital. She has always viewed the soldiers in her family, as well as other soldiers, with high regard.
As a teenager in the late 60's-early 70s she grew up in a time of civil unrest. "Question authority was de rigueur by most all American youth. Occupy Wall Street is very reminiscent of those formative, yet troubled years.
So, now that the rose-colored glasses have been crushed she is coming to write about the criminal activity of the pharmaceutical industry and to help others be enlightened before it is too late for them. She does not have any formal education in writing but comes with the strength and passion of a soldier.
Her web blog is: www.prescriptiondrugsarekillingus.blogspot.com