All For a Strawberry Milkshake-Selfishness and Activism

Last weekend, I was running around, looking like a fool.  I was running around, picking up food for several of my friends, during a lunch break at a conference.  Carrying three bags of stuff, I was approached by an older woman.  She looked homeless, with a slightly vacant look in her eyes.

Homeless Lady - Hollywood Blvd

Homeless Lady – Hollywood Blvd (Photo credit: Chris Yarzab)

She asked me for a dollar, and I told her that I didn’t have cash.  “I’m sorry,” I apologized, and I offered to buy her a sandwich.  She nodded and said that she wanted a chicken sandwich, a side of fries and a strawberry milkshake.  Feeling broke, I nodded and went into McDonalds.  I ordered my lunch, a water bottle for another friend, and a daily meal for the lady.  She followed me in and interjected, “Where’s my strawberry milkshake?”

Glaring at the cashier, she snapped, “I ordered a strawberry milkshake!  I didn’t want any water!”

I looked back at the cashier, and just signaled to continue processing the order.  While I was waiting for the order, the woman went outside.  I picked up the order, juggling the bags, a drink tray, and went out to find her.  She took the food and sat down and ate it, without saying thank you.

I was so annoyed that she hadn’t said thank you.  That she had followed me into the store, and complained about food that was for someone else.

Then I remembered my own philosophies of being decent for decency’s sake.  Why should I expect her to thank me?  I had just given her food, and I hadn’t bought her the strawberry milkshake she wanted.  I hadn’t listened to what she wanted and had just given her what I thought she should have (aka the cheapest full meal on the menu).  Was I expecting cookies for buying food for someone who needed a meal?  I’m a big proponent of no cookies-the notion that basic human decency doesn’t deserve praise.  It’s the bare minimum of decent behavior.  So why did I feel annoyed at Strawberry Milkshake lady?

Why can’t I practice what I preach?

Readers, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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4 comments on “All For a Strawberry Milkshake-Selfishness and Activism

  1. Hello, what a great article. And you posted it in ‘Awful Assupmtions’, that is so funny. Amazing how our stories are about the same thing, Latte Liberal! I too was shocked yesterday by the lack of “Thanks”, after having spent 2 hours of my time listening and offering a warm meal I can not even really afford myself. Why? Well, I am a teacher, and I also teach my students to return my question when I ask them “How are you doing?”. Just saying “Fine” is not opening a dialogue. In my actions with the homeless in 2010/2011, I got a few of these situations too. What disturbs me in the lack of “thank you”, is how sad it is when people can not even remember to feel a bit of gratitude. I guess it is ok to remind them to make the effort once in a while? 🙂

  2. […] Related article: All for a Strawberry Milkshake – Selfishness and Activism […]

  3. I love this post. I know exactly why I would feel annoyed and that’s because even if I say I don’t look for a thank you, pat on the back, that a girl, I am! People want to receive recognition and praise for what they do, no matter how big or small. We want some type of *thank you*. But just like you I’ve had to stop and think of the reason behind my actions (my motives).
    It’s like this’ anything done in secret we shouldn’t expect a thank you because the receiver has no idea of who the blessing came from, but on the flip side: when you are being a blessing and the receiver knows exactly who you are there SHOULD be a thank you because you didn’t have to do it. She can talk and ask for a dollar, so she can also say thank you -)
    Don’t think it’s wrong that you feel the way you feel. You repay kindness with kindness!!! Keep on spreading love, showing love and giving love- for you shall reap what you sow ‘-_) Much love 2 ya

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