Thursday, January 14, 2016

Why I Gave $3.00 to the Man on the Corner

When I first got out of high school, I worked for a handful of years in downtown Washington, DC. I used to see quite a few men and women living on the streets. One morning, coming off the subway and riding the escalator to the street level, I remember very vividly a homeless gentleman saying to me, "do you have a cigarette?" I didn't say anything and kept walking. He started following me down the street shouting, "didn't you HEAR me? I asked you for a cigarette!" I turned around, looked at him and said, "I don't smoke." His personality suddenly changed and he apologized for yelling at me. Since moving here to the Midwest, I rarely see someone holding a sign saying they need money, food or a job. Shortly before Christmas, the hubby was asking me what I wanted for a gift. I told him I already have everything I need. Yesterday, when I was on my way to a meeting for the disability ministry, while waiting at a red light, I saw a gentleman probably about my age, holding up a sign that said, "hungry." I only had $3.00 on me. I thought to myself, I could ignore him, but it was so incredibly frigid yesterday that I rolled down my window and handed the money to him. You would have thought I was giving him a million dollars. He was so grateful. I hope later on in his day, he went down the street and got out of the cold and bought himself a cup of coffee. Who am I to judge whether he was honest or not? My feeling was that if he was standing on a street corner when it was so cold, he wasn't doing it out of choice, but out of  necessity. Maybe he had a small child that needed formula or some diapers. Hard to know. These are the people on the "fringes of society." As I sit in my house this morning writing this post, hearing my heat just click on, I'm extremely grateful and thankful for having food on the table and a roof over my head.

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