I Lied to a Vagrant

homelessYesterday, as I was walking the mile and a half to the downtown post office to buy three stamps, I was approached by a vagrant.  He had scruffy hair, was unshaven, and looked as if he had not showered in some time.  As soon as he moved towards me, I knew what he was going to do.

“Ma’am,” he asked, with his hand outstretched towards me, “Do you have twenty-five cents to spare?”

I shook my head no, saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t carry any cash on me.”

My eyes welled with tears behind my Coach sunglasses as I walked away.  I did have twenty-five cents. I clutched my Louis Vuitton bag as I thought of the $43.83 cash and $49.50 in my checking account.

However, that is all of the money I have.

With no income, I honestly could not spare the twenty-five cents.

The further I walked away from the young man, the lower I felt.  I know, dressed the way I was, and dressed the way he was, I probably looked like I had it “more together” than he.  Nevertheless, I felt more ashamed for saying no than he probably did for asking.

I thought back to the days where I would have given him the $40 I had, then turned to my other with my hand out and asked for more all without blinking an eye.  It was not that long ago.

Actually, truth be told, I am not different from that young man, with my hand out, waiting for somebody else to pay my way…

I am just sitting in a nice cozy apartment while I do it.  (So as not to be misunderstood, I am being supported… so, no “government assistance”, no actual income…)

I should have given him the quarter.

4 thoughts on “I Lied to a Vagrant

  1. I think everybody has done that at one time or another. In Britain we mutter ‘shouldn’t encourage these people. They need to get a job’.

    In Dubai there are no beggars (by law, and it is enforced) partly because the surrounding countries are full of professional beggars. We do occasionally get Indians round the door, usually with a bandaged hand or something, asking for money. We peer at them through our tv security system for a moment then ‘click-off’.

    To me, the way out from guilt is to do something more positive that throw dimes at bums on the streets. Working for free at a soup kitchen or whatever seems a better way to help people. My father was famous for taking beggars into cafes and buying them a meal (not that the cafe owners were too happy about that) but he would never give money. ‘They’ll only spend it on drink’ he would advise me, in all seriousness.

    Not that I ever actually do ‘anything more positive’, being a sofa radical and all.

    • I struggle with this all of the time; my degree is in Human Services Management; however, I cannot actually work in the field because I would own everybody’s problems and issues. There is a challenge between feeling too much empathy and wanting people to pick themselves up.

      I have faced many struggles myself… been left with two children and too few resources; not had enough money to cover the bills; not enough of anything… the list goes on and on. However, I am strong, smart, resourceful, and strong. I make it through.

      But, my heart is big… and I embrace everybody, whether they have wronged me or not.

      So it goes, so it goes.

      The Flat Girl…. sometimes (I guess occasionally I am a little more square or round)

  2. E-bay that purse and sunglasses! I sometimes give ppl like that whatever change I do have, when I was younger, and venturing out on my own for the first few times I really felt bad for people and would give them 5 or 10 dollars at a time, I can’t afford that now (or then) but I try to always at least be nice even when I have nothing to offer

    • If only… I could not stand to part with my “stuff”, although I know I have more than my fair share. Regardless…. I do give away what little I have at times, too.

      I am a firm believer in karma. One day, I think…. some of the good things I have done will come back to grace me.

      Always, The Flat Girl

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