Some Good People Left

I don't give people on the street money. I just don't. My charity of choice is the United Way because I want to help those that are trying to help themselves. I want to help the people where I live because that's where I can make a difference not only for me but my children (should I have any). Everyone makes their own choices here and this is mine. It's not the only thing I give to, but it's my main one.

Tonight, I gave someone $20. It was the way she asked. It was in her voice. It was the fact that her baby was asleep inside her coat. It was that she asked if my co-worker who could drive her to her aunt's had a car seat for her baby. I didn't give her money at first because I just don't. But when I almost started to cry leaving her there, I couldn't do it so I ran back to her with my money and another co-worker's money. And she gave me a hug and I wished her luck. I know all I did was fix her situation for tonight, and what she really needs is someone to believe in her so that she can start to help herself and build a future for her child.

And my face is wet for so many reasons that I'm not strong enough to ignore right now.

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5 comments:

cenobyte said...

I have a policy of almost always giving people money when they ask for it. Almost.

If someone on the street asks, and if I *have* money (I don't tend to carry a lot of cash), I will give them some.

If someone comes to my door and asks for money for Whatever Reason (with the possible exception of people campaigning for the "Let's Run the non-WASPS out of Canada Campaign"), I give them money.

When people call my house and ask for money, I ask them to remove my number from their calling list.

I don't know why I do this. I suppose part of it is that I think, "there but for the Grace of God go I" sometimes. And I don't care if the person on the street is begging for money for their next hit, their next beer, their next smoke, their next meal, or to feed their children. I don't care if the person on the street is drunk or stinky or has a nice appearance. I have been warned over and over 'never to give money to "those people" because you never know when "they" will turn on you'.

It's never happened, in twenty years of giving money to people who ask for it.

It's just money. It's meaningless, really. It doesn't matter *how* you give; if you feel it is necessary, all that matters is that you *do* - whether it's to the United Way or the Mennonite Central Committee or the Guy with the Beard.

I'm glad you feel good about what you did.

carla said...
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carla said...

I think working Broadway 7-11 graveyards almost killed my compassion. Although telemarketing and collections for a USA Cellular company had already depleted my reserves and given birth some cynicism.

I used to know many of the Broadway regulars and had the luxury of making educated decisions about who to give money to:

Old Drunk Guy with Crazy Yellow Touque - ask him to give you his son's number, dial the number yourself (or else he will start yelling on the phone and stand there for 10 minutes while his son tries to understand)and tell son where he is, watch to make sure he doesn't steal anything (caught him once) or fall onto the flats of pop and knock them over.
Old Ollie - not allowed in the store, call police immediately, drinks rubbing alcohol and throws up in store or passes out in aisle.
Schizophrenic Bearded Guy - always asks for three packs of matches, always has correct change, same pattern whether it is 3AM or 10AM, or Midnight (I often gave him free coffee stamps and just didn't let him know because we saw him every day at anytime of the day).
Nasty Deaf Mute Woman Who Peed in Front of the Double Doors- long story, but I helped her once and regreted it for a long while later.
I used to give change and buy coffees for several people, including a poor girl who looked about 13 and who eventually was arrested by police in the store for prostitution. I gave a young Native guy enough change for a bus ride and an older Native woman $10 bucks once so she could get her grandson home in a cab after she missed the last bus. But everytime I helped someone out a little, there was a fear that something might go badly. Desperate people . . . well you know the old saying. And I have talked to people who were robbed or worse when they stopped to help someone. I've been witness to one in the store. I've seen some very hopeless, desperate people and their actions. Hell, I even had a conversation with a few beggars who were talking about how they were fooling people into giving them money and how pathetic it was. Anyway, I am glad you and your friend were able to help out, and I am with cenobyte - it is good that you feel good about it:) I'll stop ranting now.

Suz said...

Hmmm... that's a funny way of putting it - that I feel good about what I did.

I don't think I feel it was good and I'm not proud or ashamed of it either. It's just what I did.

I can't explain because every time I think about it, I know that $20 wasn't enough to give. I wish I could have given her strength and all kinds of other support, but there wasn't any time.

I can't explain because it makes me so sad.

carla said...

You can only help others so much before you run out of time, money, energy, and sanity. That is why I could never do respite like my mom - I would go nuts - I admit that I have more empathy than is healthy for my own sanity.

You helped. Whether you feel you should have helped more or not, you did something. :) Now don't be so selfish and try to hog all the helping responsibilities :p

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