Monday, December 23, 2002

No good deed goes unpunished.

Saturday night I went to the Christian Bookstore to buy a Christmas present for my one-year-old godson. Outside was a homeless man exploiting Christian charity asking for money. Like all good Americans this holiday season, I avoided eye contact and walked right on by. He wasn't there when I left the store, but I was thinking about how dismissive all of us can be towards the homeless. I dropped off my purchases in the car and decided I would go back and give this guy some money.

By the time I got back to the store (I was parked a block away) he had returned. I came up to him and handed him what I would consider a very generous donation. He started chatting for a while, which I didn't want to do, but at the same time I'm thinking in my head "don't be dismissive. don't be dismissive." His name is Daniel, his story is that he used to make shoes back in the old day but then his shop burned down. While we're talking, two policemen come up to us. "Sir, we need to have a word with you." Of course, I'm always feeling guilty so I say "ME?!" "No sir, YOU need to move along so we can talk to him." I felt bad for the guy and I didn't want the police to think I was being bothered, so I tried to help out by asking "Is there some sort of problem?" "Yes sir, there is. You need to leave. NOW." I could tell he meant business, so I said goodbye to Daniel and left. Why is The Man trying to bring me down so much lately?

Soapbox: OK, some of you are saying "you should never give money to the homeless, you don't know if they're just going to take it and buy booze." You're right. We don't know. But sometimes the receiving of the money isn't as important as the act of us giving it. And if you don't understand that, then you'll never carve the Roast Beast. People who say "they're going to buy booze" are just looking for an excuse to be cheap.

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