Outside the coffee shop

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So I’m spending the day working at the Coffee Bean & Tea Shop here in Lake Forest, Cal. Nice place, a little too much air conditioning. But plenty of tables, outlets, lovely staff. Blah, blah.

Outside the front door, and to the right, sits a woman with a sign. PLEASE HELP. OUT OF WORK. Etc … etc. She’s probably 27 … 28. Pretty. Dressed in regular clothes. Dark hair. She is accompanied by two boys, both apparently pre-school age. Wearing regular shirts, shoes, khaki shorts.

And here’s the thing: I don’t know what to do.

Usually, I offer to buy food. But I’ve seen plenty of people buy her food and drink and hand her bills. So, truly, what can I do? My heart hurts, as it almost always hurts in these situations, because she’s begging alongside her two kids and I’m comfortably sipping from some coffee drink. And while some would (understandably, I suppose) say, “Why doesn’t she get off her ass and get a job?” I can’t imagine she wants to be sitting on a sidewalk, begging before her sons. I can’t imagine it’s a life she aspires to, or feels comfortable with. Nobody wants to beg. So, no matter her circumstance, I hurt for her, and I hurt for her kids.

But I don’t know what I can do.

If anything.

2 thoughts on “Outside the coffee shop”

  1. Follow your gut instinct and go outside and execute a small act of re distributive love. Don’t use your own money. Find a wealthy business man walking by, take some of his money and give it to the woman like a good liberal would do!

    All kidding aside, I get what you are talking about.

    I have that conflict every time I see someone begging.

    In Austin there was a brilliant pan handler that had a sign that read ” Need fuel for Lear Jet ” he raked it in!

    I told one beggar to jet a job at a highway off ramp as I exited and then felt so shitty about it I got the guy a bottle of water and a sandwich from Starbucks and went around the exit again and gave it to him with a 5 dollar bill.

    My rule:

    My emotions now drive my reactions, I figure it is random therefor fair. If I feel the slightest pull or internal conflict, I give. If I feel nothing, I don’t.

    What did you end up doing ?

  2. My favorite always was when panhandlers would accost me after church with the kids sitting in the back seat of the car staring a hole in the back of my head. A “Dad, aren’t you going to help that man. He’s hungry” always made me reach for my wallet. I usually give but got blasted once pretty effectively by someone who said I actually help destroy people by enabling drug addiction.

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