Thursday, August 16, 2007

Do you have a spare dollar?

If you were walking down the street by yourself in the city, and someone approached you asking for money, would you give it to them?

What if you were in your car and they asked the same question? Would you?

Or does it all depend on our impression of that person or the back-up story they provide as to why they don't have the change or the $2 themselves?

Walking around in a city, solo, during my job, I am often confronted by people asking me for money. I don't know why I'm so approachable, but I've been asked by people who all appear different--who knows who is homeless or not, who is addicted to drugs or someone who really just needs the money for a bus ticket.

Yesterday, someone tapped on my window after going from car to car, asking for change. That really becomes depressing for me. I didn't even roll down my window, thinking about what my mom would say to me if I did roll the window down to talk to a stranger in need of money. I find it sad, but what should we do?

I have given money before, though. Once, a man (who did not seem homeless, kind of had his act together enough to concoct a story for me) approached me, asking for a couple dollars to get him home on the bus. He told me what stops he needed to go to, almost coming to tears telling me how badly he just wanted to go home. I guess I have him $2 out of pity, or maybe just to leave me alone, but it really was only a couple bucks. Others, I have denied, mostly the homeless which doesn't make me feel all that great, for I feel kind of stuck up for ignoring their pleas. But isn't it their fault that they got there, or no?

I guess I'm just wondering what you would do, and I'm wondering if it's okay that we judge someone based on appearance as to whether or not they are worthy of our change. Are people really scamming us, or should we rely on good faith that they really and truly need the money for something besides a quick drug fix? How can you know?

What would you do, or what have you done in the past?


Diane said...

i am very pleased that you are careful about rolling your window down to people begging for money.

Megan Bottle said...

It's one of those sticky situations... you feel bad if you don't give people money, but then if you do give some of them money, then you feel bad about the ones you skip over.

You know what gets me the worst... is that many of these homeless people are Vietnam Veterans (or so they often claim)...they fought, were probably injured, and endured suffering for our country... yet they are left to the streets to beg for their next meal or fare for a bus ride home. Our country somehow can't afford to take care of these people, yet they CAN somehow afford to take care of the twenty-year old single mother of three. And the thirty-year old perfectly able-to-work-but-too-lazy-to-get-a-job. Go figure.

But yeah. Don't ever roll your window down for a bum. It's just not worth the risk. Unless you're a 250-lb pro wrestler. Then risk away.