April 28, 1998

Ignorance is Bliss?

Recently, I was cleaning out the guest room in our house to prepare it for the arrival of our first child (due July 18th, 1998 thereabouts!), and stumbled upon some old diary entries. The one I'm sharing with you was written in September 18th, 1990 @ 3:07am in my dorm at the University of Florida, about memories 10 years before that date:

Here I am again, this time with a thought..

While watching the professor demonstrate some math techniques in MGF1202 this afternoon, I let my mind drift as I was bored... This was no difficult subject, hence the leash was released on my sometimes wild imagination and vivid memory (rare thing).

For some reason, my memories drifted to where I spent most of my childhood, Cedar Point Street in Sarasota, Florida. I was very young and had just finished walking in the March of Dimes (a fund raising event) and it was time to collect the donations I sweated for....

Here's the vivid part; I was in Gabriel's mother's room waiting for her to fork out some money she owed on the pledge sheet. She was nice and appeared eager to pay the pledge she owed when I told her how much it was.. However, I did notice the surprise in her eyes when she realized I walked all 20 miles of the walkathon, thus making for a big pledge to be paid. She was going through her purse, trying to come up with some money. After a few moments, she finally grubbed up enough to meet her pledge. She handed it to me and I thanked her... She smiled, sadly. I left the house, thinking nothing of it, excited over the amount of money I was generating in pledges.

Now, more than a decade later, as I reflect on this vivid memory, I feel sorrow and twinging dismay. Little did I realize at the time I was collecting pledges that Gabriel and his family lived in poverty. I should have known better. You should see the unkempt and dirty house they lived in. One could not miss the broken toys laying around the unmowed yard. Gabriel's clothes were often torn and spotted. His mother always looked tired with greasy hair and and sagging clothes as well. It should have been easy to see that they could not really afford to give money to any "higher cause." Yet I marched up to their house, politely asked for payment on the pledge she so kindly signed for, thanked her, and walked off with their scarce and hard earned money.

Now I realize the surprise on her face was not the surprise of walking so many miles, but at the amount of the pledge. Her sad smile reflected the irony in the world -- she gave much needed money to a rich non-profit corporation that specialized in fund raising -- to help the needy.

I felt bad today, when I thought of this and shook my head sadly, wishing I had the common sense to simply "forget" her pledge - it would not have been any loss to the March of Dimes. It would have been nice to help Gabriel's mother remain $8 richer for their own benefit.

"Ignorance is bliss." To this I add, "Bullshit." Ignorance often comes around and slaps you in the face, making you pay for it somehow...