Making the best of each situation

Recently my eldest son, a student living on a tight budget, called me. He was deeply indignant.  At the entrance to a supermarket a homeless person had asked him if he could buy her some food. Well-raised as he is, he answered that of course he could do that; what would she like to have? She immediately handed over a ready-made grocery list, containing a range of – in the eyes of a penniless student –  delicacies like organic yogurt, fresh blueberries and freshly pressed orange juice.

Speechless with astonishment, my son took her list and went in, not really sure how to handle the situation. In the end he decided to buy her some regular yogurt and pre-packaged juice, but to skip the blueberries. “Who can afford fresh blueberries in the middle of the winter?!?”

When he came out and handed over the purchases, the homeless lady hardly had the time to thank him, busy as she was distributing different grocery lists to other credulous shoppers. My son was outraged; wasn’t this the peak of impertinence? At the end of the day she would be enjoying a feast, while he would be eating baked beans.

Well, I must admit that I kind of admire this creative lady! She really tries to make the best of what is, in every other aspect, a pretty unpleasant situation and does so in a well thought-through manner. She has a goal, she has a strategy and she offers her target group real value for money: you buy me some food and in return, I will make you feel good about yourself. Balanced with a feel for quality and environmental awareness, this really is an unbeatable concept from which many of us probably could learn a lot – even if it is only that, no matter what life has in store for you, you always have a choice. You can give up hope and suffer your way through it, or grab yourself by the collar, set yourself some goals and take charge of your life. In this case, it is a choice between passively holding out a cup, hoping that someone throws in a few coins, or actively creating a plan to rise above the situation and focusing your efforts on creating a better future.

The only thing that still puzzles me is the homeless part of the story. Where does she take her gourmet meal at the end of the day? I wouldn’t be surprised if she has found a really smart solution for that as well and managed to exchange her park bench or shopping trolley for a neatly set table in front of a pleasantly crackling fire. I really hope she has!