A man and his assistant from a special needs center used to come in and ask for my bartenders at my work to help collect bottle caps. Without a doubt, we started collecting immediately. We never knew what the cause was for, but once a week he would come in and dump our collection into his bag and then leave.
Then, one day he came in with a lamp. The base was glass. He stuck bottle caps inside of the glass base. It was a cute and creative piece. He then asked if we were willing to sell it for him. I agreed, and in no time it was sold by one of my generous customers. The following week, the man came back to see if we sold his lamp. He was overjoyed that he made $15 off of his art. I was thoroughly happy for him.
A week or so later, he brought us another lamp. It was a bigger lamp and he wanted to charge $20 for this one. I was thrilled to help him in his efforts, just to see how happy it makes him. Little did I know that this would become an issue in my work and my personal life.
Soon after the lamp dropoff, one of my regular customers came in and then waved me over to talk to him. He said, “I have a business proposition for you. That lamp is $20. I’ll buy it right now, but I want you to leave it there. Sell it again and we split the money”. I was shocked by his deceitful plan. My thoughts were that some person will buy it thinking that it’s going to a great cause and instead it’s going into the pockets of thieves. I said, “no, I can’t”. I just kept shaking my head side to side. His eyebrows frowned and I could tell the gears were turning in his mind. “Why not?…Okay, then. How about this?” He smacks a $20 bill on the bar, “I’m going to buy it right now. You have a choice, you can either sell it and keep the extra $20 or you can give double the money to the man that sells the lamp. I don’t want the lamp, I’m not taking it, so you’ll have to sell it again”. I couldn’t believe the grimy guilt trip he was putting on me. I just kept saying no and shaking my head. In the midst of this interaction, another one of my regular customers walked in. He inquired about our discussion, and the man willingly told him about his proposal with me.
I had hopes that this man would take my side and explain why this would be a bad idea. Instead he said, “Yeah, I think that’s a great idea”, He then smacks a $20 on the bar, “Here, I’ll buy it”…unbelievable…The other man smiles in victory, then slides both $20 bills toward me. “So, now what are you going to do? Double the money or are you going to take it for you and your boy?”. Then, the joining partner says, “Of course, she’s going to take it. She’s a single mom”. So, I stuck $40 in the envelope to go to the lamp guy as I stared them down.
I couldn’t believe I witnessed such horrible examples of humanity and love. That was not caring for a single mom in need or uplifting a special needs man. That was using two people in need and throwing them in the ring against each other for their own bitter entertainment and satisfaction. If they wanted to see me and the lamp guy succeed then just give us $10 – $20 each, or even just send some encouraging words or advice, not try to see which is more worthy.
As for the man that decided to stereotype me with his statement, “Of course, she’s going to take (the money). She’s a single mom”, excuse me, but I didn’t realize that being a single mom meant we are overly selfish and willing to rip off those of innocence. I am trying to live the example of what I want for my son, and that is definitely not the example I want for him. I am a struggling single mom, but I am not greedy or desperate for money. If money meant more to me than I would be sending my son off to family members and babysitters to work night shifts, since those shifts make more in tip money. I take the less paying shifts, so I can see my son at night, because time and love is way more important to me than money. I’ve seen some single moms take that path and they are miserable by the end of the week, because they barely have seen their children and someone else is basically raising them. Financially, I’m not taking the smarter choice, but for my son’s life, I’m making the perfect choice.
“The amount of money I make does NOT define my ability to set standards for my family.”