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When Help Comes with Conditions

Two different encounters, two different responses. I do not know whether I have done the right thing, but I know I will not regret.

1. Will you pay for me?

As my husband and I were queuing to pay for the groceries at the supermarket, a woman in her 50s approached us and asked us to pay for a bottle of 1.5l Coke. My first response was to reject her. My husband, on the other hand, pitied her and asked why she wanted us to pay. She said her mother wanted to drink and she was unable to pay because she was jobless.

As I was the one who was paying for the groceries, my husband had to reject her no matter how much he pitied her. My husband asked her to ask other people instead. When we had done shopping, we took a glance at her and she was still asking around but no one wanted to pay for her.

Later, my husband told me her mother looked like a retarded person. I did not see her mother. Still, based on the following reasons, I insist that I will not pay for her:

(a) Coke is not healthy food. If she wanted to buy a loaf of bread, a tin of biscuits or a packet of noodles, I would consider paying.

(b) Coke is for drinking. I would buy food for someone so that he or she would not get hungry but not drinks. Singapore pipe water is safe for drinking, so a person can always get free water. OK, maybe I am too harsh… I would consider buying the person a bottle of mineral water.

(c) The woman can always go to Ministry of Social and Family Development to get some help. If she does not know where to start, she can always go to any community centre to ask.

(d) There are too many con people out there and I do not trust the woman.

2. Can you give us 10 cents?

I was taking the lift down and saw my neighbour’s boy and two other children at the lift door. He asked me for 10 cents. Before I could ask further, he said he wanted to buy ice cream. There were two boys and a girl. I know the two boys, they live at my block. I asked whether 10 cents was enough. The girl showed me that she had 45 cents and she was short of 10 cents to buy an ice cream. The other boy said they (the two boys) needed 50 cents each.

So, I gave the two boys 50 cents each and the girl 10 cents. The girl said thank you happily while my neighbour’s boy teased her, “She is my neighbour, not yours.”

I laughed inside my heart at the boy’s comment. I like girls more than boys, and since they are together, they must be friends, though she is not my neighbour. I won’t tell the little boy that I would rather pay for the girl. I walked away happily.

Why I pay for the children?

(a) I know the two boys.

(b) I like the girl.

(c) I have always wanted to help the old ice cream vendor but I cannot eat ice cream and other cold food. I do not want to pay the ice cream vendor without getting the ice cream because he may think that I pity him. This is just a good chance for me to help the old vendor indirectly.

(d) I feel happy when I help them.


In both situations, I use logical facts to analyze. Of course, the second situation has an advantage because I know the boys and the old ice cream vendor sells ice cream daily nearby my neighbourhood.

Do you help with a condition? Please share your views. Thanks.


  1. ChristineR says:

    Wendy, I am certain I would have done as you did, for the exact same reasons – though I can eat ice-cream too, happily!

    • Wendy says:

      Thanks. Until today, I am still thinking about the lady at the supermarket. If not for too many con people out there, I would help her.

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