I decided to take a few minutes to eat my brought-from-home dinner this evening in The Times side parking lot. As I ate my microwaved vegetables and piece of chicken breast while trying to read our paper and a bit of The Wall Street Journal, a man approached me.
He said he had come from Dallas to make some store deliveries and that his partner had left him at the Bossier City Wal-Mart. He called the police there, and they had taken him to the Salvation Army shelter last night to sleep. He was trying to make the 8:35 p.m. Greyhound ride back to Dallas and was walking around looking for work to get the rest of his fare.
This isn't the first time I have been approached by someone in need. And he didn't ask for money, only work. I'm not really allowed to let other people write my articles and I didn't need my car washed, so I just gave him 2 bucks. He thanked me and kept walking.
I saw him speak to a man who had been walking around picking up garbage in nearby parking lots. The man gave him some directions, and it looked like the fellow who needed to get back to Texas helped clean up trash for a few minutes.
As usual, I wondered for a minute if I'm dumb for just giving out cash. I thought, "I could've gotten some dessert out of a vending machine with $2." But really, that stuff is probably slowly killing me and everyone else who eats it.
Then there are those who say the guy just used my benevolence to go by drugs or liquor. But he told me directly that he "was not some bum." And he really didn't look like a bum. Maybe he bought a hamburger.
It was definitely my loss to his gain. But was it really much of a loss? I would miss $20, but I'm not going to miss $2. As a reporter, I can be skeptical enough as it is. So sometimes I just want to believe people will do what they say. Maybe it wasn't really a loss for me.
What would you do?