Friday, July 21, 2006

Do you give money to strangers?

I'd rather not refer to them as "bums" or "hobos" or anything like that - not just because it's not p.c. or particularly polite, but because I want to cover a wide range of scenarios.

Whether it's a broken-down-looking guy asking for fifty cents, a woman with kids, or someone in a well-tailored suit... Under what circumstances, if any, would you or have you given money to strangers?
This comes to-mind because I faced a similar situation, this morning. My throat was really killing me, so I left work to grab a drink from a local convenience store. Before I could open the door to my truck, I noticed that a small-framed Black male over the age of fifty (and maybe sixty), wearing an orange t-shirt and sporting a worn-out dye job with grey roots was anxiously waiting on me.

I opened the door and he gave me his full attention. My first words were, "You're going to have to give me a little space." He stepped back a little and said that his car had broken down, so he needed a ride to get his other car. I told him I was sorry, but I had to get back to work. I think he mumbled a "thanks, anyway," or something, and we went our separate ways.

Once inside the store, I asked the clerk whether she knew if the old man in the orange shirt had driven that car into their parking lot. She said he had and that she guessed he was trying to get it jumped or something. Since she more or less confirmed his story and I *know* how it is to be stranded due to car trouble, I removed a five dollar bill from my wallet, palmed it, and left the store.

I approached the old man in the orange shirt, whom I'd noticed had approached other at the gas station, and asked if he lived close enough to take a cab ride back home. He said he did, so I handed him the five and told him good luck as he thanked me repeatedly on his way into the store.

I didn't know what was IN the store, but maybe he was going to ask them to let him call a cab so he could use the money on cab fare. Who knows? I didn't want to know, though.

The way I saw it, there was a good chance that this man was in-need. I actually had a tiny bit of cash to spare and it might get him a little closer to his goal, so I took a chance.

Whether he lived up to to the modest amount of faith I placed in him or not is completely up to him. That will not, however, determine whether I put that same faith in the next person I meet.

So, what about you? Under what circumstances do you give money to strangers (who ask for it)?

Why? ...or why not?

9 comments:

asdf said...

We talked about this at CBR. I've been doing the food thing. If they are hungry, I'll buy em a peach or something. No money though

doug said...

I'll give bums/hobos spare change in my pocket.

--Doug (b)

asdf said...

What's the chances of two "doug's" commenting. Weird. I was wondering when I made the 2nd comment.

Ms_SoCal said...

With two children @ home I have nothing to spare! That sounds cruel but I do give all my change to them @ the end of the day to put into their banks.
However, I have been known to give some change to a man that usually waits outside the nail shop. I found him outside a Walmart and he was counting a few bills. More than what I had in my pocket. Our eyes met, he put the money away. And every time he see's me he doesn't ask for change or anything else anymore, instead he offers to help with my bags or anything else. I guess he doesn't want his secret out.
Therefore I don't give to an individual any more! One person ruined it all!

West said...

re: "One person ruined it all!"

Yep. That's how it goes, sometimes. Been there, m'self.

ms mimi the mocha soulchild said...

Yes, I have. I believe that you never know when you may unknowingly entertain an angel. Who knows. Most homeless people did not start off that way. It could be you.

However, I only do it now after prayer. I had a very bad expereince giving money to someone who needed prayer and substance abuse treatment.

West said...

Welcome, mocha.

I definitely believe in "it could be you."

Anonymous said...

You're a mench.

Why mention that he was black?

West said...

re: "Why mention that he was black?"

Why mention that he wore an orange shirt?