Monday, April 30, 2007

I gave him $2 cash

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?

6 comments:

Melinda Williams said...

I think you did the right thing Adam. I usually feel like, if someone is in a position where they feel their best option is to ask a complete stranger for money, they probably need it more than I do.
Letting go of some change or a dollar of two probably won't change my life, but it might mean a meal or a job or getting home to someone else. And even if it doesn't, at least I can feel like I tried to help someone.

Kevan Smith said...

Two dollars? I'd give that to anyone for any reason. It's such a paltry amount, why does it need a reason? It's not even something to mention, really.

Randy said...

Didn't you watch South Park last week?

"Night of the Living Homeless"
http://www.southparkzone.com/episode.php?vid=1107

I really hope the guy was looking for money to feed some drug addiction. I hate to think that he can't find any way to get from Shreveport to Dallas. If he is from Dallas, then he must not have any family or friends that would pay for a bus ticket.

I just went to the greyhound website, and it only cost $34 for a bus ticket to Dallas. I've worked downtown for about 9 years, so I've heard the bus ticket story several times over the years.

Greg Pearson said...

Uh...ssssssucker. But it's only $2. You didnt get "swindled", you're just too shy to say no. My tactic, which 98% of the time is true, is that I dont carry cash (I'll just spend it on junk food). The bus ticket thing came around when folks started to offer to take the "peddler" into a store and buy food for them.

Adam Kealoha Causey said...

Dang, Kev and GP. Ya'll are always tough on me. "Shy?" Hmmm...

Greg Pearson said...

ok...too nice maybe. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I take the same attitude former Dallas Cowboys great Nate Newton once said. When someone asked in a public forum if he planned to donate to non-profit organizations or the United Negro College Fund, Newton called his five kids and wife to the stage and said, "THIS is my United Negro College Fund right here." I'm the same way...gotta take care of me and mine first.