Thursday, December 04, 2008

The difference

Last Sunday I went out for a drive, and when I got near my destination, a homeless man was standing at the off ramp. He had the usual cardboard sign where I saw the words homeless, veteran, and God Bless. He was clean, shaven, wearing an army jacket. I usually watch these kinds of people for a while before I give them any money. But I didn't feel like I had to watch this guy. Plus it's not an off ramp I usually use, so I would not likely see him again anyway. So I gave him $20. That's usually what I give in these cases. I'm buying myself $20 of feel-good, if nothing else. Well, I don't usually feel exactly good. It's more like I'm buying myself $20 of no guilt. He was very happy and polite when he took the money. They always are. But then something unusual happened. He put his cardboard sign in his backpack, and then he walked away.

I have never seen that happen before. They always go back and stand in their spot again.

Usually after I give someone on the street some money, of course I wonder if I helped, in my own way. But I never really know.

This time, I know I did something. I made the difference between him standing there, and him not standing there. I think for once I allowed myself to feel cautiously good about what happened.

I have driven past that ramp several times since Sunday, and I have not seen him again.

1 comment:

Kellie said...

My friend Todd was a softhearted guy who always gave these guys a few bucks. Whenever someone told him he was wasting his money on useless drunks/drug addicts/bums, he used to say, "Whatever the reason they're doing it, if they're doing it at all, I figure they've gotta be worse off than I am."

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