[Author’s Note: (Or should I call this “Author’s Fail”!) … Thank you to those who read this blog post earlier. If you thought that the event in this story actually happened to me, I sincerely apologize for the lack of clarity at the outset. The story is an analogy (#BlackLivesMatter vs. All Lives Matter). I should have made this clear at the outset. Thank you again for reading.]
Remember how I mentioned in my last post that I like to give water to the homeless? We’ve always got a few of those small, store-brand bottles of cold water on hand when we leave the house, just in case we see someone in need.
We keep bottles of water for ourselves at home, too. We have several five-gallon bottles we refill weekly. It’s hot, and we drink a lot of water. Can’t imagine life without access to all the water we want. We’re so lucky that we don’t even have to try to imagine it.
[ETA: The following tale is analogous to the #BlackLivesMatter vs. #AllLivesMatter controversy]
I made a quick stop at a Circle K (convenience store) the other day when I was out running errands.
There was a homeless guy sitting on the curb outside the store. He wasn’t holding a water bottle or a drink cup, and there was nothing of the kind around him, so I took a bottle of cold water from my insulated grocery bag before I got out of the car. On my way into the store, I handed him the bottle of water.
At that moment, another guy exited the store and pressed a button on his key fob to unlock his vehicle. As his headlights flashed with the unlocking, he saw me giving the homeless guy the bottle of water. He stopped and said, “Hey. I need a bottle of water, too.”
This threw me off a bit.
The guy clearly wasn’t homeless. He was groomed and attired in clean clothing, and he was about to take off in the vehicle that got him there.
He was carrying a small plastic bag containing his purchases, indicating that he’d made a retail transaction.
What the heck? I wondered.
He answered as if he heard my question.
“I need a bottle of water, too,” he repeated. “He’s not the only one here who gets thirsty. I’m thirsty right now. If he gets a bottle of water, then so should I.”
I looked at him for a few seconds, because now I was even more confused.
“Can’t you go back into the store and buy water?” I finally thought to say.
“Yeah, but that’s not the point.”
“Then what’s the point?” I asked. I don’t like to challenge strangers on the street, but I had to know.
“The point is,” he said, obviously annoyed at having to explain it to me, “that to be fair, whatever he gets, I should get.”
He’s comparing himself to a homeless guy. Bizarre, I thought. But I said, “I gave him water because he didn’t have any, and he can’t go in to buy any because he doesn’t have the means.”
“Not having the means doesn’t justify him getting a special bottle of water just for him,” said the guy with the key fob that unlocked his car.
“You make it sound like I’m discriminating against you by giving him a bottle of water.”
“You ARE discriminating against me by not giving me a bottle of water!”
“I’m giving him something he needs that you already have.”
“I don’t have a bottle of water.”
“Something he needs to survive.”
The conversation was getting surreal.
“This is wrong,” he said. “We ALL need to survive.”
“But you’re not the one wondering where your next bottle of water is going to come from! You can get your own water here or at home or wherever.”
“You don’t get it,” he replied. “What’s so hard to understand about EVERYONE needing water, not just homeless people?”
I gathered myself.
“I’m not giving him water like it’s an all-expenses-paid cruise to the Bahamas,” I said. “I’m giving him water because it’s his basic human right to have water. He needs water in order to survive. He has a right to survival.”
Then it occurred to me that he might be thinking it’s the guy’s own fault that he’s homeless, so I added: “And it doesn’t matter what he did in the past, whether he’s been in jail or has a drug or alcohol problem or anything like that. ALSO…. ” I was on a roll. “It doesn’t matter if he was trying to buy water and got belligerent with the store clerk for some reason. It doesn’t matter. Whatever he’s done in the past is irrelevant. He’s a human being, a person, like you. He needs water. To survive.” Now I was repeating myself.
“I need water in order to survive, too. I also have a right to survive.” And now he was repeating himself. The conversation had gone from bizarre to surreal to ridiculous.
“But you can get your own water!”
“Who died and made you the queen of who gets free water handed to them and who doesn’t?”
“The only one here who might die is this guy who doesn’t have water and can’t get any water himself! This is Arizona. We’re in the desert. We’re in a harsh environment. His life is at stake out here with no water.”
“My life is at stake too!”
I could see that this was going nowhere, so I left.
P.S. Here’s a pic of me drinking water before class at the gym last night, just demonstrating how I’m drinking water without thinking about it:
(Now it’s really the end.)