The day before Christmas Eve I took my son out in the evening. We were sitting in a fast food restaurant when a man walked up to the table and held out a paper for me to read. The note said he was deaf, that he was out of a job and whether there was anything I could do to assist him.
By a shake of the head, I told him no, and it was only while he was making his way through the restaurant that it dawned on me that he might not actually want a job, but something to eat or maybe even for someone to give him money.
As everybody knows, things are a lot tighter financially than they used to be. That said, even if I had thought of giving him money while he was standing at the table, I wouldn’t have gone into my purse.
Call me neurotic, but people have been robbed like that and in the Christmas season, I would have been taking a risk. It’s a pity that because of fear, I am no longer inclined to give in the way I used to, but that’s part of the society in which I live.
We get so many advisories in the media as to what to do and what to avoid while shopping that it puts a damper on a season that’s supposed to be joyous.
The writer in me actually felt ashamed when I sat there thinking about what a desperate man or woman would do if spurned after asking for help. I felt even worse when nobody else gave the man anything. I don’t suppose he understood why he got nothing. I imagine that all he understood was the fact that he was in need and didn’t get help.
Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to give in to first impulses than to wonder afterwards what I could have done differently. But then that’s human nature, I suppose.
How do you handle similar situations? Do you take risks or err on the side of caution?