Sunday, December 26, 2010

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?


  1. I used to take risks, but the older I get the more cautious I am. Its tragic that the few criminals out there who have taken advantage of those in need by using their stories to rob and steal, have also made the majority of us more hesitant to try to help.

  2. I think your instinct to shake your head no was right. I personally tend to help those people who aren't publicly asking for it. I saw a news story once about a guy that begged for cash and bought himself a car with the money money people gave him. Should have had his butt kicked! :)

    And I think a man shouldn't approach a mother and child like that, if he was really in need, so that would be another reason to be suspicious.

    But it is so sad that more are in need today, and that the world seems a little more dangerous than it used to.

  3. So right, Tina. You want to help, but sometimes it feels way too risky.


Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you think.