Rare is the day I am out and about, and not be approached by a person panhandling for some kind of donation at an intersection. If it is not the kids having a car wash or the firefighters having their annual fundraising, it is some church, homeless shelter, schools fundraising, car wash solicitations or someone selling flowers, fruits, toys, shrimp or a hustler… You name it, they are all there. Sometimes, at the same time, jamming the streets forcing drivers to maneuver around them.
Sometimes you give, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you buy, sometimes you don’t. I wouldn’t dare buy shrimp on the street but would buy roses.
They look suspicious sometimes, like at the gas station the other day when a woman approached everyone in their radar with a story that she needed $10.00 to buy gas to return home to Georgia because she was dumped by her husband.
Just like popcorn, my “goodness” button immediately started popping, going into the giving mode. Oh yeah, in this trying times, why not help a mother who was in agony and fallen in hard times. So, I gave and then some, without a doubt and felt good about it, unaware that I had fallen for the cheapest trickery in the books.
Without a blink of an eye, I bought the tale cheap. Oh yes, I did but the surprise, however, was on me. I see her again, two weeks later while at a local supermarket.
She appeared in a different part of the neighborhood, this time with a friend and two kids, tattling the same old song. What she was unaware of, is that I was ready for her this time. I recognized her from afar and was not about to let her exploiting me or anyone else as a matter of fact.
Let’s face it. I am an artist. Perhaps, she should have not mess with an artist. We get faces stamped on our foreheads and can draw one with eyes close; well some of us can.
She walked straight up to me, yes, me, no one else, as if she knew I was a “giver”. I guess something in me read “stupid” or fit into her perfect mold because I could not understand her “straight shooting” target. Yeah, I may be a giver but despise those who exploit and use others.
She was out of luck this time. I was not having it. She and her friend not only got an ear full, yes I looked like mom bear ready to attack but also heard from the supermarket security who was right on their tails with all his magnetic force. They run faster than lizards on the trails running away from a squirrel before they could scream, help. If such thing was even possible at that moment.
There you have the panhandler looking plain, with a semicolon. Like an homeless who one clearly sees that she/he needs help but is dumped on the streets with the sole purpose of collecting and hand over his/her earnings to his/her pimp who is awaiting on the next corner. However, there are others who are sincerely in need, desperate; their clothes fifty, their shoes messy. Then, you have the punks who just hang out to make a few bucks for beer or cigarettes without a desire to get out of the funk.
So, it brings me to this story.
I was running an errand the other day when I had to stop at red light. As I waited for the traffic light to turn green, I was approached by a physically challenged gentleman, at an intersection, limping on one of his legs with a white bucket on his hands, fundraising for his church in exchange for a leaflet of prayers. Just as I was pulling money out, the light turned to green and with million of cars behind me, I had no choice but go but not before shouting to him that I would come back. Hum, yeah right. The look on his face said it all. Yup, he did not believe me.
So, I went my way, run my errands and was on my back when I noticed that he was still there, at the same intersection but on the opposite side, patiently spreading the word about his church. But this time, I was approached by a different gentleman and not him.
I declined and indicated that I was looking for his friend. Again and by the fluke of things, just as he was calling for him, the light turned to green, the car in front of me moved and million others behind me went bananas. So, I did the unthinkable, the kind of thing I would criticize any driver for and if I were behind me, I would be buzzing at me too, mad as hell that I was not moving.
I let my ethics go south and decided to go nowhere fast this time around. I was not leaving until I gave the cash to that man. Hello, my reputation (yeah, who died and set it because It is not like he knew me) was at stake here.
Just like a robot. I took the amount out of my bag, made a fast stop, slammed the breaks almost causing a fender bender, put the money on his hand and remarked, “I told you I was coming back”. He took it, smiled back, surprisingly touched and replied, “Yes, you did come back!”. Yes I did!