Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kind Deed or Manipulated?

I know I have been away...I think I have that reaction to Nablopomo - I enjoy it, but it is a lot of pressure to come up with something new every day. This week has been kind of crappy, so I just took a break from the blog.

So, here's a situation that happened yesterday that I was thinking about...

I went to Safeway during my lunch break and as I was approaching the entrance, I saw a man sitting in a wheelchair. He looked to be in his late 40s, just sitting in his wheelchair. He wasn't close to the door - he was over to the side in front of the soda machines there. When I walked by, I expected him to ask me for money or to be selling something (even though he didn't have a table or any items). Sometimes they have had veterans outside of the store selling lapel ribbons or something. He didn't say anything to me as I walked by and I breathed my usual sigh of relief. I know there are people out there - panhandlers - who are just looking to earn a fast buck, but there are also people out there who are so desperate for some drop of kindness and some help that they resort to begging. I have a hard time with that - how do I know which they are? If I'm downtown, I usually can spot the difference, but here in a suburban area...who knows? So, with relief, I entered the building.

When I came out of the store, he was still there, but my guard was down. I had forgotten to buy a drink inside for my lunch and I walked to the vending machine. I tried to go to one that was a little ways away from the guy. As soon as I stopped walking, he said, "I don't suppose you could spare some change? I've been turned down for disability and have refiled, but it takes a long time." I asked him to hold on just a minute and I would see what I could do. I bought my pop - with the only singles I had in my pocket...since when do sodas cost $1.50 from a vending machine for goodness sake? I knew I only had $20 in my pocket. I talked to the guy for a few minutes. I told him not to give up and that my friend had been in a similar situation - applying for disability and getting turned down. This guy was worried he might have to hire a lawyer who will then take 30%, but he had broken his back and was still recovering.

We talked for a few minutes and I tried to be encouraging - he seemed very sad and spoke in a soft voice. I took the $20 out of my pocket and handed it to him. I said, "I hope this helps a little. What's your name?" His name was Steve. I told him my name and I told him to hang in there and not give up. I wished him a good day and looked him in the eye as I shook his hand.

As I walked away, I hoped I did something kind for someone in need. If he was manipulating me, I don't ever need to know. He will know. I shook his hand and treated him with humanity. If he was lying, I hope he never forgets that sometimes people just try to do the right thing.

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