Wants vs Needs

Recently, a friend told me a story about a good deed by his Sunday school class in Shreveport and it got me to thinking.

I’ll get back to this shortly.

I have so many funny stories from working at Kroger Pharmacy.

Young Fulla at Kroger

Young Fulla at Kroger

A lady once asked for “Soybean Jr.” That’s called Absorbine Jr. to you and me.

One Christmas, a lady asked me where the ointments were. After taking her to the ointment section, she sighed and said, “No, your Christmas ointments.”

I’ll never forget one particular day when the power went out. Whenever this happened, we had to lock the doors to the store. One gentleman, wearing an Alabama hat, almost walked through the automatic door when it did not open. He then failed about three times in his attempt to open the door. Finally, he aggressively knocked on the door like he was running from a serial killer.

I mouthed to him through the window that the power was out. He looked confused (remember the hat) so I opened the door and told him the power was out and we couldn’t let anyone in. He then proceeded to ask me, “When’s it gonna come back on?”

“A quarter after nine,” I said. We closed at nine.

I love this and so many other stories involving odd customers; however, not every story makes me smile.

One day, a guy threw a six-pack of beer on the counter along with just enough money to pay for it. He also laid a bottle of Kroger brand baby aspirin up there. Before ringing up either, he asked me if he could borrow (have) a couple of bucks to pay for the baby aspirin. I inquired about the beer and his reply has stuck with me for nearly a quarter of a century.

“Oh, I have enough money for the beer. I need money for the baby aspirin,” he said without blinking an eye.

So that brings me back to my friend’s friend from his church in Shreveport…

She was down on her luck and asked members of her Sunday school class to help her out with her monthly bills. Without hesitation, they helped their sister in need.

Two weeks later, she posted pictures on her Facebook page of her soaking up the sun on the beautiful shores of Panama City Beach, Florida.

Last year, Amanda Clayton, a Michigan resident, won the lottery. She was, however, receiving food stamps and other welfare benefits at the time, which created a national outrage among many.

I include myself among the many.

Ms. Clayton had enough disposable income to play the lottery, yet needed help from the American taxpayer to make ends meet.

My friend’s friend from church had enough money to go to the beach 580 miles from home, yet needed her friends from church to help her pay the bills.

The guy at Kroger had enough money for the beer but not enough to purchase the aspirin for his sick child.

All good hearted people want to help those who are truly in need. It’s the decent thing to do. The problem is that many, not all but many, of those who are down on their luck have enough money to make ends meet but choose to spend it on their wants and not their needs. Prioritizing does not seem to factor into the equation.

I’ve been poor through much of my life, so I know what it’s like to struggle.

There were times in my life that I was so broke that I considered Hamburger Helper to be a delicacy; a delicacy that lasted a few days.

One time, I was a couple of months late on my phone bill, so it had been disconnected. I went to pay the bill but after handing the clerk the check, she informed me that the phone had not been cut off; they were doing some work on the line. Naturally, I asked for my check back.

It was cut off a week later.

So, I know what it’s like to be broke, and I know what it’s like to go without.

I quickly learned the difference between wants and needs. I learned to prioritize.

Tough times build character; asking for handouts from good-hearted people does not.

Just imagine how much more efficient we could be in helping the needy if some of these folks could simply remove their head from their 4th point of contact. If you don’t know what that means, Google it.

For the record, I let the guy at Kroger have the money (have, not borrow, because no Kroger borrower ever paid me back a dime.) Kids shouldn’t have to pay for the sins of the father. Besides, it was only a couple of bucks.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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