Tuesday, February 06, 2007

spare change

I was walking my dogs past a 40 year-old, black,homeless woman who was asking for change. I wasn't planning on giving her any until she said "Have a Happy Valentines Day." There was something really sad in the way she said it. It struck me as such a strange thing for her to say to me that I stopped and put a quarter in her cup. It didn't even make any sense for her to say that to me with the pseudo-holiday still a week and a half away. I suppose I just realized that she was willing to say whatever it would take to get some change in her cup. It's the first time I've given anything to a pan handler in a long time. I remember being in high school on the subway and a woman very convincingly told me that she needed truly 79 cents more to buy a token so she could get on the train. I stopped and gave her all my change. I was about to gesture to the token both so she could go ahead of me in line, but by then she had already turned back around and repeated her plea for 79 cents to the next person that came along. I remember feeling incredibly stupid and used and angry in that moment. To this day I wish I had asked her for my money back.


meva said...

If she's desperate enough to be that obvious, maybe she really needed a few 79c donations.

It must really be dreadful to need money and have to wish total strangers 'happy happy's' when you feel like shite.

kranki said...

I was going to say something so offensive as a made-up footnote to the story that I have just shamed myself. I'm sending me to my room.

Chai said...

There was a time when this elderly man came up to me and started calling me big brother (a sign of respect in Chinese), saying he needed $5 to buy a ticket. I did give him some money (cant remember how much exactly) but to this day, I dont think he used it to buy a train ticket.
Nevertheless, like meva, I reckon when I'm that old, and if I needed to beg for money, I certainly hope people would be kind enough to do so.

angela said...

Just a few days ago, I was going to subway to get lunch, and a man was sitting outside asking for money so he could get a sandwich. It was about 10 degrees outside, and had been snowing for about 6 hours, so I asked him if he liked turkey. I wasn't in subway more than 5 minutes, bought him a sandwich, and when I came out, he was nowhere to be found.

I don't take kindly to people who don't appreciate my rare moments of empathy and charity. Oh well.