Regarding me over bins of oatmeal and millet,

not comprehending choices –

where is the plain, brown, recognizable?


Offer of assistance precipitates wonder:

Do I work there?

Perhaps, and one never knows another’s motives,

What qualifies me to answer?


I smile as she wonders aloud,

Why would you help?

Never having had this asked, I am miffed;

glibly answer, Because I was raised that way.


And perhaps it’s true, as a jingle plays

in the back of my head;

not my parents’ doing, but good enough.

Service, I say, is purpose;

What harm can it do?

Stumped, her mouth twitches in nervous retort,

I like your hair.



12 thoughts on “Naturally

    1. Well, yeah … Hi Ben! 😉

      Service gives me pleasure. Helping others brings a smile to both our faces, and life’s simply too short for me to miss the opportunity, if I’ve got the energy and motivation – which is most of the time.

      This woman seemed genuinely blown away that anybody would offer to help if they weren’t getting paid to do so. It sparked this poem, because I felt it’s such a sad commentary on our culture.

      Blessings, and thanks for coming by!


      1. OK, here’s a true story from 1985. I was living in Stirling, Scotland. Next nearby the castle is a pub with an outside courtyard. A bunch of us were having a drink there one evening. Next nearby the courtyard is the main drag up to the castle, which has a low wall you can lean over and see into the courtyard. At a certain point we become aware that a couple of punk kids are up there eavesdropping, but we play dumb. One of them decides to make his presence known. “Anarchy!”, he says, in a loud voice. Enough to cut off our own conversation. After a few moments of silence I say, “If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem”. Silence for a few moments. Then we hear them whispering to one another up there. Then he says, “Are youse social workers?” Which of course cracked us up completely.

        After that they came down and one asked if we would go into the pub and get him some crisps (What Americans refer to as potato chips, I believe) because he was too young to get served. “Yes. I’ll do that.” I said. He gave me the money and went and bought his crisps. Anarchy? Finding a way around a stupid law anyway.


  1. You are much faster responding ‘on your feet’ than I. Clever retort!

    I would totally have gotten him his crisps. And yes, potato ‘chips.’ I spent time in, of all places, a Scottish castle in Kirkaldy in 1974 that was being restored as an artists’ retreat. Feather bed and all! Also the last time I was in Europe. I need to return soon, though it’s hard to leave Hawaii, these days 😉

    Carry on! Thanks for the story!


    1. I too have been mistaken for an employee at the health food store where I shop. If I know the answer to a customer’s question, of course I’m going to help them out. But nobody has ever questioned why I would. I think helping others has become a reflex after years of helping people in every way I can as a nurse. I like the Biblical verse, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ It’s a privilege to be in a position where I have the energy, motivation and ability to help others.


  2. Oh no! I’ve been on both ends of the stick. ( I’ve asked someone for help and I’ve been asked for help.) I find that a good sense of humor comes in hand in these situations! Your poem was perfect!


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