Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What Do You Do?

What do you do when someone on the street asks you for money? 99.9% of the time, I say no thank you and keep walking. I don't believe its helpful to hand out cash to the homeless our down and out, I'd rather give those funds to charities who help the homeless. Note - I use to work in social services.

This morning, it was dark and very early (before 6:00 a.m.), and I stopped at Dunkin Donuts for some coffee.* I was still half asleep when a middle aged man in a work uniform asked me if I could spare 75 cents so he could catch the bus. My initial reaction was to be startled since it was dark, I was sleepy and I was thinking about my work day and all that I needed to accomplish. My second reaction was to say no thank you which is what I normally do, but I ended up giving him a dollar (most of the time I carry no cash so the fact I had a dollar was a surprise) and told/asked him to "be kind to the next person." He followed me into DD and asked the clerk for change and when I left he was sitting at the bus stop.

Did I make the right choice? I really have no idea. I've never seen this person before so this is not a regular scam at my DD (if it is a scam) and he really did present as a blue collar worker trying to get to his job.

What would you do?

*Buying coffee on a daily basis is a dumb financial move but when it is super early (before 6:00a.m.) and I'm heading to work I treat myself.


EasyChange said...

Don't be too hard on yourself. Coffee is sometimes a necessary evil; I have tried to brew at home and take a thermos. I might start again...but it is a hard habit to break once you're used to buying breakfast!

As for your goals, great work! I wish I could be as driven as you and Mr. Sam seem to be.

And as for the homeless guy, I feel the same way you do and usually do what you do. But, one thing I like to do if I decide to do something is not give money, but instead offer to buy them some coffee or food. This makes me feel like I know what the money is used for so I feel better about it.

poppy said...

You were rude.
Pls next time consider the possibility that he actually said the truth even if you don't intend to give any money

Mary Kate said...

I think you did the right thing, giving the man a dollar. I have had people in a certain grocery store ask me for money lately, whereas it had not happened to me before. The last time I did give a couple of dollars, which is very unlike me, to a well dressed woman that said she is unemployed. I did not regret it.

Anonymous said...

I think you over analyzed the homeless guy a bit too much.

It was just one freaking dollar honey!!!


I'm sure that was not going to cramp your style even if it was the only physical bill you had on you.

So yeah, you were rude. And even though I love your blog, you came off as a bit too judgmental and yuppish in this scenario.

It's not that serious.

As long as you had the right intentions, chalk it up to just doing something good for others - in person or through a charity. You don't have to micromanage other people and their behaviors like you do your spreadsheets (albeit them very detailed).

And FYI not every homeless guy or person on the street asking for money is a liar. You never know the shoes they walk in and none of us would wish to be in their shoes so let's stop pretending to be God here. If for some reason you ever end up like him (which I doubt) you wouldn't want somebody to look down on you for a $1.00 either.

Plus, these are the times we are living in....lots of people are in desperate/dire situations so don't be too shocked that within the next few years more and more people who aren't even homeless start coming out the woodwork asking for a "handout".