Walking home through the side streets of South Melbourne I noticed a girl wandering around with a tattered suitcase. She was looking tired and exhausted. As I approached to overtake, she quietly asked if I could help her with directions. Of course I could. She then asked me for the directions to one of the welfare service institutions in Melbourne. I immediately thought the worst – she was homeless. I knew that the address she wanted to go to was the head office and not the halfway house she had in mind so I offered to call up the housing crisis support – Opening Doors (1800 825 955)- instead.
After being assessed over the phone, they instructed her to tram/taxi to their St Kilda crisis centre where she will be able to stay the night and then get assistance the next day for a more permanent accommodation. Having felt relieved at finding her shelter for the night I offered to buy her a quick meal at Hungry Jacks. With no phone, no money, the young girl had not eaten all day.
Whilst we waited for her meal to come out, a Taxi pulled up to visit the loo. Perfect. When the driver came out I asked him to drive the girl to St Kilda. Just before we parted ways I gave her my card and asked her to let me know that she was ok. She thanked me and hopped in the car. I thought that would be my good deed for the day.
Twenty minutes passed and as I was getting into my trackies to relax I received a call from the driver. She didn’t have money to pay and the crisis centre wasn’t going to pay either. So as I was the one that asked for her ride, the debt was passed on to me. A whole $18.60. After trying to explain to the driver that I didn’t know the girl, that she genuinely required assistance, and to ask the driver for a bit of compassion, I was blasted with words I won’t put in this blog and threatened to be reported to the police. $18.60 to help a girl on the edge of sleeping rough.
In the end I agreed to foot the bill and he arrived within minutes. The driver then instructed me to ride in his taxi so he could return the suitcase he held hostage. I could not believe what he had done. The poor girl with nothing had just had the last of her possessions taken from her over a measly $18.60. I took her suitcase and paid the bill which had been taxed an extra $10 because he had to come to me for the money.
After he left, I went immediately to the Salvation Army Crisis Centre. When I arrived I saw the girl being looked after by the very supportive staff. It was a wonderful feeling to see her in the right care.
As I debriefed my night with my fiancé, I could not imagine what might have happened if I didn’t give her an extra moment of time and just pointed her in the direction to nowhere. We are all given opportunities to make a difference. Choose compassion.
Liz Tu saysMarch 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm
Reading this entry made me tear up. How can another human being be so cruel and heartless? This world needs more people like you. Thank you for showing us that by extending yourself a little bit can make such a difference. I’m sure you have restored some of that girl’s faith in humanity.