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begging for money

September 13, 2011

Two guys begging for money from strangers who walk up to the door.  Gas station.  I see it and stay away, inside my car, watching. I drive away.

I need gas. He wants my change. I want a soda. He wants a dollar. I shake my head and walk inside. I say apologetic words and walk inside. I look the other way and walk inside. I talk to the friend I arrived with, making every effort to carry on a conversation that has one purpose, just one…to give the appearance of doing something else and walk inside. I walk inside. Avoidance. How is what I’m doing any different from them?

I stop at a light, having just exited the freeway. A man stands there, sign in hand, downcast eyes, dirty, hair a mess, and I roll down my window to give him a bit of help. A dollar. The guy in the car behind me does the same. We both leave feeling good.

A man asks me for fifty cents. I’m standing at the urinal, backpack on my shoulder, vulnerable. I have no money in my pockets or in my backpack. I tell him so. He asks again, in slight mockery, as if I were lying to get him to go away. Fear for my safety and extreme annoyance cloud my vision, so I repeat myself in loud words. He leaves while I am left to wonder about what just happened. Who asks for money in a restroom? This is a first. It just does not happen, but today, it did, and it scared me. I leave the library feeling bad.

While picking up a video at Blockbuster, the clerk chats with a tow-truck driver, telling her that it’s okay for telemarketers to call your home and bother you, to ask for money, to beg, cuz’ that’s their job. What?  He’s young and has much to experience yet, so I silence my thoughts and disregard his ignorance. He’ll learn as time adds something to his plate. I leave the store happy with my selection.

A wise man told me that helping another person benefits three people: the giver, the receiver, and the one who witnesses the giving. But, when do we give? Always, to everyone who asks, or just when it’s convenient? I like living in an area, shopping, doing business, and NOT being accosted by beggars, but I know that many need help. When do I?

Begging for money.  Hmph!  I’ve done that too…

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