Yesterday, 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.