As I stood there, with a debris-colored lab coat (It was the 4th time I had changed my lab coat that day), struggling to tell a man that his dog was in critical condition and needed to go to an ER and he argued with me, I used every bit of my will power to not raise my voice, but to be compassionate. He argued that he wanted to take his dog to another veterinarian, a 2 hour trip away. I had stabilized the dog after being hit by a car and being in shock. It could die on the trip. Rather than tell him the many things that came to my mind, I calmly told him, "ok, if you are going to take your dog, I need to remove the IV catheter in her arm." He didn't like that answer and asked why, "well, if I don't know where you are going, I can't let it stay in." He got agitated. He told me his veterinarian would have a better and cheaper solution than what I was proposing. "Ok, let's call your veterinarian," I suggested. A waiting room full of people watched to see what transpired. Another client with her dog said supportively, "that's what they do in human medicine, transfer of care." The man called up his doctor and kept commenting that I was wrong and "my vet" will set me right. I spoke with his veterinarian and explained the situation and asked, "is this a transfer you are comfortable with?" Her only response, "put him on the phone". I'm not sure exactly what transpired, but the receptionist later told me, "wow! you are so nice! I can't believe how you handled that." Apparently the man got off the phone and sheepishly said that his veterinarian told him to do whatever I told him. The dog got the care that it needed.
UGH! I wanted to scream at the man, but didn't. My little "FitBit" had monitored a heart rate increase and I'm sure if it could measure blood pressure it would have been high. People can be so hard to be nice to. I was at the brink of having not a charitable thought to the man left in my soul.
Later on, as I was walking with someone and we saw some homeless people I realized I had run out of McDonalds gift cards like I normally give out. The woman I was walking with spoke about a situation where her daughter had given a homeless person some money and then saw that person walk over to a fancy car. Ok. The obvious judgement is that the person doesn't need the money. Another possibility and I have seen this in real life is that they may have gotten the fancy car from someone (such as the Cadillac that I'm driving around that is definitely not mine.) I heard a story once of a woman who had a BMW and ended up in rough times and went in that BMW which was the only thing they owned and they were on food stamps and went to a food pantry. She knew people judged her, and that they didn't know the whole story. I will admit the more likely possibility is that it's a person who is making money off of begging, but we don't know.
I thought to myself internally. I would rather give gift cards/food items to people who beg than those who ignore them. With giving items other than money, I feel like it is less likely to be abused/ used for cigarettes and alcohol. I also feel that if I give away items to 100 people who are unworthy of them, but 1 who does truly need it, I'd do it for that one. Just like I think it was Abraham who bartered with God for the innocents in a city, if I was that one innocent, I would not want to get tossed in with the rest.
I have been thinking recently of a desire to help the homeless, and possibly set up some type of mission to them and their pets. Any inquiries I have made just reveal a lot of bureaucratic tape. With my young family and all the other responsibilities I have, it just doesn't seem like a wise undertaking right now.
Mother Teresa once said something along the lines of , "you do not need to come to India to serve the poor, their are poor where you live, in your home, in your family, in your neighborhood, serve the poor there."
One woman once told me something interesting with her interaction with the homeless. What they want most, she said is dignity. They don't want you to avert your eyes, they want to know that their presence is acknowledged. She said one way she did this was to learn their names. She said though she couldn't save the poor of the world, she could do something for the "David on the street corner". For the homeless in those in need God put into her life, that was how she could serve God. While I still try to work on my outreach to the homeless, I realize that my heart can be a lot more charitable and patient with them than it can be with even those I work with and those in my family. If I can make loving and serving others my vocation, like Monsignor has demonstrated, perhaps that is my role, no dramatic, inspiring gifts, but the loyalty and steadfast spirit of serving others with the gifts I do have everyday and ultimately, to keep showing up.