My husband and I were downtown one night. We went to The Alabama Theatre for something. A man approached us in the park and said he needed money for a train ticket. My husband said he would walk over to the train station and buy it for him...wherever he needed to go. He said, "That's okay", and walked away.
Was he offended that we didn't trust him? First of all - my husband did not have the cash. He would have had to use his Debit Card to get it for him. We told him that. And he wasn't about to walk to an ATM and get the money out. Not wise. It isn't that we didn't want to give it to him. My husband is a little stauncher than I am when it comes to money. He just felt the wisest thing to do was to go buy the ticket if he really needed the ticket.
When I was in college and was home for the summer. I was up late watching a movie . Mom and Dad had gone to bed. My brother was still out. I guess it was around 11:30pm. Someone knocked on the door and I opened it before I thought about it. A young fellow told me his mother broke down on the Causeway and needed a part for her car.
I am obviously not real quick because I immediately responded with " hang on"...I asked him how much the part was...he said around $20. I had $16 and something in change. I gave it to him. He told me he was going to bring me a couple of pounds of shrimp to pay me back. Fine, I said, no worries. Afterwards my Dad almost didn't let me out the rest of the summer because of his fear of my gullibility. But it was not my place to judge. And he didn't hurt me. Did he really need it? Was his story true? In my opinion, it is not my place to judge, I had it - I gave it.
I was in Albania for a summer. One day I made a mistake of giving a child a stick of gum in the square...I got mobbed by several children there begging. It was crazy. And scarey to be honest. I got lectured by a lady we were working with who was from Albania. I was told sternly and in a very harsh way by her that I should never give to the beggers. They knew where to get food if they really needed it. Every day I passed a group of children sitting around a little boy without his leg sitting on a blanket. They were little - beautiful little children with big brown eyes and dirty faces. I longed to give them a few Leks to help out...but remembered the harsh warning.
One day we had passed by and stopped to look at a local store front. I turned in time to see the little legless boy pop up from his blanket and reveal his cleverly disguised leg - gather his stuff and run with all of his brothers and sisters to the corner. Apparently, he made good money from those not from Albania and would stay there in there square every day until Mom got home from work. I would have still been happy to give him the Lek though. Most of those folks had so much less than I. I was just following orders.
I just think that there are some that will use others no matter what...the fact is - some people really need it...some people are taking advantage. My stand is - that is not my place to worry about. I can only know that if I with-hold what I have when I see need - that I will be responsible for that. I will let those that take advantage be responsible for their own motives. I can't worry about that. Will I be taken advantage -- sure - I am sure I have many times. But I am none the worse for it...that I know of anyway.
I do agree that there is an instinct that seems to kick in when I see some of these folks. I am not real sure of where they are coming from. But those times I have not really had what I needed to give. In other words...no cash. And I have been warned by my dad and my husband not to open the door up anymore to those I do not know. And I will say now that I have kids, I am quite a bit more cautious than I was.
All in all. I do not see the panhandling around here as much these days. I wonder why that is?
Do men tend to be more about the pay for the actual thing - like food, or a train ticket verses giving the money? Or is that more of a personality thing?