Last week, I told you about the request for money for the co-pay for medication. I didn’t think her medications required a co-pay, so I was immediately suspicious. Then, when I offered to go into the office and make the payment for her, she exploded like this:
“I don’t need anyone to hold my hand! Why are you so nosy? Why are you treating me like a child?”
I asked you for ideas, and felt completely convicted by your responses. Such great thoughts!
How I Treated The Demand for Money
“I’m treating you like a child because you’re acting like a child,” I said. “You’re begging me for money, but you aren’t willing to be accountable for it. I’m not saying your lying, but by your own words you are a making it look suspicious because you don’t want me to know what is happening.”
“I’m never going to ask you for anything again!” she yelled. A pause. “Except maybe creamer. But I’m never going to ask you for anything again.
Now, I will say, Janice and I have a long history of this. I was almost certain, based on the past, that she was lying, so I voted for honesty. In fact, thinking of her as a child has helped me understand her better. Maybe she is lying and doesn’t even know that is considered lying? Her words are so irrational that it is hard to imagine how anyone could say such things and still think they are making sense. I have to address that if I am going to see her on a weekly basis.
Still, after reading all of your comments, I thought about how I could have worded that better.
I should have asked her questions back, instead of making a statement
We went back and forth on the issue. I questioned whether I should even take her to the pharmacy in this condition, but I did. She stomped off into the building. A gold-colored watch remained behind on the passenger seat of my car.
Soon, she emerged from the building with the medications. Well, good. No issue.
“I still need that co-pay,” she said. “See, that’s why I have that watch, to try to sell it for money.”
“I’m happy to go pay it,” I said.
“I don’t want you going in there.”
Never mind that I had gone in with her before when she had an appointment and sat waiting for her.
“I know pharmacists,” I added, “and they don’t give medicine out if it hasn’t been paid for.”
“I’ve been coming here for 40 years!” she yelled at me. “They trust me!”
I could leave you hanging again, but I’ll just close this up. I told Janice that either I would go in and pay her bill, or I would go home. Gold watch in hand, she looked around the parking lot, I assume for an unsuspecting victim to beg from. (A friend from church has also been a victim of her begging for money to buy an inhaler. When my friend took her to Walgreens, she took the money and ran out the door.)
Janice decided to stay. I left. I knew she could find a way home.
I replay many of these scenes through my head, wondering if I did the wrong thing. But the bottom line is that, if I am going to remain friends with Janice, I need to be honest with her. A lot of people share advice on beggars, but I often wonder if they actually live in a neighborhood where these same beggars are friends who they actually love and care about. (I’m not talking about the feedback you gave in the comments on last week’s post. I found that helpful and challenging.)
Love is more complicated than just giving money.
If you love someone, part of your job is to discern when the thing they need most is NOT money. Blogger and author Craig Greenfield says he usually does not give out cash in North America. Offering to buy coffee or pizza are good alternatives.
Janice came back and apologized a few weeks later.
“I would like to apologize for that incident,” she said. “And Harvey needs some creamer.”
Janice has returned requesting something at least four times since then. A few days ago, she came looking for work. I was thinking of the advice you all gave on my last blog, and so I varied my routine. I’ll tell you about that next time!
I’ve decided I’m taking blog breaks on holiday weeks, so there will be no Saturday night blog next week. I may conclude this Janice story on Wednesday, just for good measure.
By then, the new email system should be in place, so again, if it looks a little strange, that’s why. I’m hoping it will go on as it was without a hitch.
If you don’t receive emails from me, you can subscribe below. I know a lot of people hate emails, and I totally understand. I try to keep my inbox streamlined to just the content I want to see, so I get it.
I will say that since on my end the subscriptions will be better streamlined, I will occasionally share more personal content or stories with my email list, even if I don’t feel comfortable with sharing it on my public blog.