Friday, September 28, 2012

Helping Strangers

Earlier this week, as I was leaving a restaurant, a stranger approached me asking for some financial assistance. He was not a homeless person. He said he was from out of town and had to use all of his money for an unexpected car repair. I don’t know if that was the truth or not. I don’t know if he was truly in need or just a very good actor. Generally, I don’t even care. My attitude towards most homeless people or others who approach me is that I will help them in good faith if I am able to do so. If they are taking advantage of me, then they have to live with it. If I have cash on me I usually respond favorably to such requests. Like many people, however, I use my debit card almost exclusively. As a result I rarely have any cash. I felt badly but I explained to the man that I didn’t have any cash. He looked forlorn and I was sorry I couldn’t help him, especially since I had just filled my belly at a nice restaurant. Later in the evening, when I finally got home, I realized that I actually had a rare five dollar bill in my wallet that I had completely forgotten about. If I had been aware of it earlier in the day I would have given it to the stranger who asked my help. I’ve taken ministry workshops and social work type of classes that warn against giving money to the homeless and panhandlers. I understand that many of them are alcoholics and some even have mental illnesses. Most that I have encountered were nice and not as aggressive as some are reported to be. I am a blessed man so I tend to be a soft touch to those in need. I hope the man I was not able to help found what he needed to get home. I should probably take that five dollar bill that I have an hide it in my wallet so that I will have it the next time someone needs some assistance. Otherwise I will just spend it on a latte that I don’t really need.

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