Back at the grind, eight hours after shutting off the laptop at 3 am.

Arrived at Starbucks this morning in a dark mood. Lots of stuff. Mainly tired and beaten down by writing day No. 432,211. I say hello to one of the guys who works here. He points toward the large coffee he just poured and says, “That’s for you.”

To say I was touched is an understatement. Just a decent thing to do, when he had no reason to.

On Sunday my 7-year-old daughter and I were talking about this very subject. “Daddy,” she said, “when someone is asking for money and he’s poor, we give it to him. Right?” I agreed, but explained to her that sometimes people use money for bad things, and that we wouldn’t want to give a person a few dollars, then have him/her use it on cigarettes/alcohol/drugs.

The very next day I was walking through Manhattan when a girl, sitting on the sidewalk, said, “Can you please help me get something to eat.” As New Yorkers generally do, I ignored her at first. Then I thought about my daughter, and about decency. I ducked into a McDonald’s, bought her two hamburgers, handed them to her, moved on. Am certainly not looking for pats on the back (there’s nothing I loathe more than the idea of doing good for personal satisfaction; ie: liberal guilt), or for credit (she’s still poor and hungry).

But, and I think this is important, we do have the power to impact people, if only for a second. I was feeling down—got the coffee. This girl was hungry—hot a couple of burgers.

OK, done babbling.

6 thoughts on “Decency”

  1. Good for you. I tend to help out a homeless person when possible. I do have a friend that refuses to give them money, but will give them food. There is a guy that always says, “can you help me with a down payment for a hamburger.” My friend gave him a burger and the man threw it back at him. You never know.

  2. There’s an abundance of homeless food banks in NYC, so they’re generally not starving. Almost always, they’re looking for cash for illicit purposes, not a snack.

  3. I’m bothered by this situation.

    I know that most of those begging only want to get high.
    When visiting Oakland CA, in the ’80s a local church started a token program. Give those that beg a token to use for food at several participating restaurants. Pretty much bombed.
    Locally I have seen far too many begging for the wrong reasons.
    On the other hand I have been somewhat haunted by the image of a man that seemed so out of place holding a sign asking for help.

    Locally Springfield, OR began an interesting program (based on one in Denver) where parking meters are set up to take money that is used only for those in need.

    I don’t know what is right, but throwing money at beggars to use on drugs isn’t right.

    The burger thing was good, but I know of several instances where the food was thrown back at the giver. Food wasn’t what they were hungry for.

  4. Too bad she was a vegetarian 🙁

    Actually dude, I commend you. I give to homeless people, but not on my trip home and to work. If I give one day, they expect it every day and it just becomes impossible. I feel really badly, but it’s not doable.

  5. Good move on getting food so she really didn’t waste the money. Even if she sincerely wanted food yet had some kind of drug problem, she may have wandered.

    Deep down inside I think just about everyone is or wants to be decent. If you are a good judge of character, then you can usually avoid the pitfalls. I actually let one sleep on my couch for 1 night about 6 months ago.

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