07 February 2006

Pay It Backwards

People suck.

Today, on my way back to the office I ran into a guy who said that he was homeless and looking for a place to get a free breakfast. I didn't know of such any place downtown. I know of one place, the place where I sometimes volunteer, but it isn't downtown, it's further out, and I told him that. He tried to flag down some poor schmo on a bike, who just waved him off and kept riding, while I stood there still. His response: "This is a hard town to get help in."

I walked away.

Then I remembered that I had a Starbucks card in my back pocket. I turned around, walked back to him and offered him the card. I didn't have any money on me and I told him so. The card had, maybe, $15 on it - enough for a sandwich and a pastry and a coffee, if he wanted it. There was no way to get me the card back, so it was his to keep, spend, eat, poop on, whatever.

He accepted it. I experienced a fleeting moment of pride and happiness and then the Karma gods decided to smite me down for my hubris. It was instantaneous. Before I had taken six steps, the guy called me back, asking if he could tell me how he had gotten from his city to mine. Stupidly, I said,"OK." He then proceeded to tell me how his girlfriend was in a fire, and how she was 6-months pregnant with his kid and then he did it... he squeezed his eyes shut and tried to force out a couple of tears. When he couldn't manage to get one out, he tried wiping his eyes to make it look like he was crying, except, that he wasn't. I was looking right at him. It was the pathetic crocodile tears of a little kid who wants something that you won't give them. It pissed me the f!#% off.

Fine, pal! You scammed me out of the card. I didn't give you any money because I didn't have any money to give. I was trying to be nice!!

I said that I was sorry about his misfortune, that I hoped that things went better for him in the future.

I walked away.

When he called me back this time, I just kept walking.



Anonymous said...

ugh....I lived in Boston for many years and the story is too familiar (the "blind" guy that I later see shopping in my store with his wife and child...no problem reading the greeting cards to her)....and sooo many more....

I am glad you got your package safely and I am sorry some schmuck made the next day so sucky....

secret pal

CjSachiko said...

My dad once followed one of these types home, out of curiosity. Yeah, the guy owned a home and was begging for money in his "leisure time."