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The Gift- Sort Of



"I'd like a pack of Ma_____os."
"Pack or box?"
"Uh, box." I don't know! I haven't bought cigarettes in 42 years.
So why am I buying the smokes? Back up the time machine a day or two:
I shoveled rocks into the wheelbarrow and heard a voice.
"You got any cigarettes?"
A woman stood there, forties, not beautiful but not homely, brunette, 40's, a bit overweight.
I smiled. "No, sorry I don't smoke."
"You got a light?"
Now that's a dumb question. If I have no smokes, why does she need a light?
"Sorry, no."
She asked the same question, twice, about Lars, working in the garage. I assured him he didn't either. I attempted to engage her.
"Where do you live?"
"I don't live. I just exist. I had a nervous breakdown." Then she pointed to her house and shuffled off toward it.
Poor woman. So sad!
I decided to buy her a pack, along with a lighter.
The next time I saw her, she sat at her front porch. I brought them over to her as she attempted to light a cigarette butt, probably one she picked up off the street. I gave them to her. She thanked me, three times, in her flat voice. I stood there like an idiot for a few seconds, unable to start a conversation, then walked off.
Judge me if you want for giving her the cancer sticks, but I thought about it for quite awhile before making my decision. Here's why I did:
Her life does look pretty miserable. The cigarettes could be a small bright spot for her troubled life.
They must be really important to her, as she risked talking to strangers and begging for them.
They are a much better alternative than scrounging them off the street. She's apparently going to smoke anyway.
What would you have done?
Two days later another woman came over and asked my coworker Lars if we'd given her the cigarettes. He didn't know the story, so he told her no. She said she's not supposed to have cigarettes.
Ah,well.
Now I'll have to look for her and apologize.

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