You’ve been there too haven’t you? Maybe you’re walking along a downtown street, just minding your own business. Perhaps you’ve just sat down in a booth at MacDonald s, preparing to dig into your deliciously unhealthy Big Mac. Then it happens, a middle aged man, or woman approaches you.
You give the intruder a once over, having made up your mind about him before he or she even says a word. Their clothes look dirty, hair unwashed, rejection is written all over their face. Still they dare ask if you’re willing to spare some change because they haven’t eaten for days. Or, perhaps they have traveled a long way and by no fault of their own, their wallet was stolen.
Even though it could all just be a story used to manipulate you and others for money, you reach into your pocket and give them a couple quarters, you might go as high as two, maybe even five dollars out of pity. And because deep down you have the suspicion that they might be telling the truth.
It happened to me today. The man who approached me claimed to have a nephew that he was taking care of and no one would help him out. There were a few seconds where I thought he was pulling my leg. I thought, wow man, you’re good at this. But then as I looked at his face I felt guilt and pity at the same time. How dare I judge a man based on stereotype. Just because others have manipulated the public for money, did not mean that this man was, and I don’t believe he was. There was just something about him, something in his eyes that spoke of loneliness and pain.
In the end, I handed him a $2.00 coin, wishing he didn’t look so sad, wishing there was something else I could have done. If it weren’t for my own insecurities, I could have invited him to sit down and have lunch with me. I could have been a friend.