Today was not a good morning.
I woke up late (I was trying to be a good digital detox guru by not having my phone in my bedroom but my traditional alarm clock conked out).
This then set off a chain of events that set everything out of kilter.
Flustered and aware that I had a morning deadline, I bolted out of the door and jumped on my train. You don't need to swipe your ticket at the tiny village station I live near, so I only realised I was in trouble when I got off at the busy mainline station in the centre of London.
When the train guard realised I didn't have a valid ticket, he scolded me, but after pleading looks (I can mimic Puss In Boots' weepy big eyes from Shrek), he let me through as long as I purchased a new fare.
Then I realised at the ticket machine that I didn't have a bank card. I simply couldn't find it. And then I started freaking out.
You may be thinking tiny violins, but I didn't quite realise how utterly screwed you are if you don't have a bank card (unless maybe, you bank with Nat West, which I don't).
You can't top up your Oyster card without cash or a card (for non-Londoners it's a magnetic card that you swipe at ticket gates).
Hell, you can't even get a bus because the bloody things have gone cash-less.
Considering buses are a cheaper form of transportation and therefore used by people who are conscious about money and far more likely to use cash, who on earth came up with this idea?
In ye olden times, the obvious thing would've been to ask someone for help. In modern times, you might as well spit on someone's shoe.
As I stood there in the miserable rain, people rushing by, feeling intimated at the thought of having to ask, I finally knew what it felt like to feel utterly helpless and out of options. And even then, I wasn't entirely out of options as some people are.
Then I realised two problems.
First is how we treat people who ask for help. We view them with mistrust, suspicion, also condescension that their life has had to culminate in a moment of asking for help. I just couldn't bear the idea of people ignoring me and walking past, and the bottom line is that most people just don't give help.
But the second is far worse.
December is the season of giving, but only a certain type of giving. New UGGs for your sister, an iPhone for your kid.
The idea of properly giving back, and by that I mean to people who really need it (not me moaning about my first world problems outside Vauxhall station) has become utterly lost in the frenzy to buy, buy, buy.
We've long since moaned about the consumerism of Christmas, but I can't be alone in being shocked about how bad it's become after the scenes of rioting on Black Friday.
In our bid to buy a flatscreen TV bigger than Mars we've completely forgotten about giving, and what that means. And very often, it's not to people who are automatically given it by right, it's the people who either ask and are completely ignored, or the ones who don't and are falling down the cracks.
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