Two Tissues for $1.20

I was walking towards the neighborhood’s Mc’s to get a ice cream cone before heading home when I saw a hunched elderly lady trying to peddle her tissue and TOTO coupons to a couple; the only people left at the Hawker centre. On instinct, I immediately stopped in my tracks, asked her how much in dialect while whipping out some coins to give to her. One hand holding two tissues and another holding TOTO coupons, she asked what did I want to get. I asked for the tissues, she handed two to me and I placed two 50cent coins in her hands. She uttered $1.20 in dialect. Immediately in my mind I criticized her for asking for $1.20 for 2 tissues. In my mind I was thinking “I’m trying to help you and you..!” First of all, the ‘market rate’ for tissues were 3 for $1. Both ‘conditions’ were broken. I handed her another 50cents and left. Few seconds later I was rudely surprised by how quick I was to condemn her in my head. Repented. Isn’t that how many of us behave?

1. We be nice to people while expecting people to ‘return the favor’. In business terms, that is called return of investment. Or we give, wanting people to react in a way that we would desire. In business terms, that is called sponsorship; there is conditions attached to the money.

2. We want to be a blessing to people in our own terms. We give something we think people will be blessed with (regardless if they might not be blessed by it). Conditional giving. That is not really giving either. Conditional giving is kind of hypocritical at the same time.

3. When things don’t go according to our plans, we judge, criticize and condemn the person in our minds. Without even getting the full story. Not very nice. Not that we should critic or judge in the first place. There is already so many haters in the world. And we think the world can do with less.

Sad to say, I have also at times responded or approached a matter in such ways.. While it is close to impossible to give without expecting anything in return (recognition, appreciation, rewards, etc), try to anyway. And give something that the person will appreciate. If it’s $1.20 for 2, then it’s $1.20 for 2. You can’t be a blessing by determining the terms and conditions.. It doesn’t work that way. Going back to the story, after getting my ice cream and proceeding to head home, I saw the elderly lady again. She was still walking around past 10.30pm hoping to get some more business.. It’s quite sad actually. Thank you for the tissues and bless you old lady.

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