Monday, December 24, 2012

Just call me The Grinch

There where a couple of incidents that happened this week, and I cant get them out of my head. I keep wondering who is the real victim inside the circumstance. Me or them?
Here is the first scenario: A few days ago, my boyfriend and I were at Aldi's grocery store on Lake Avenue. (For those of you not from the Rochester area, lets just say that you wont be finding any country clubs in this part of town.) While loading up the car we were approached by a fella in his mid to late thirties in ripped up jeans and an all around frumpy look to him. He told us that he had run out of gas and his kids were in the car. (both were nowhere no be seen) and could we please spare a dollar or two. My boyfriend, the kind person that he is, not only gave him a dollar, but also the quarter that he got from taking the cart back to the corral. As we drove away, I asked Craig why he gave the money to the stranger. He said because it was Christmas. I told him that the guy was probably going to go spend the money on crack, but it didn't matter to Craig, it was all about giving.

Brilliant creativity. 

Personally, I take more of a "no tolerance" approach to begging. In the neighborhood where I live, I come across it all of the time. I have no problem saying no to the person with the sign at the red light because odds are, they are going to spend it on something unsavory. If he/she really needed help, there are many many programs and places to go to get the help/food/warm bed that they need. 
Now, I don't want you to think that my hardness towards charity comes from nowhere. I have tried to help many a drug addict get better.  I've had many close friends and loved ones who had lost their way, and when I tried to help, I was lied to and stolen from. What I have learned over the years is that the only person that can help a drug addict is themselves, and I refuse to be a victim of their problems any longer. That goes for loved ones and strangers alike. I also find the act of begging a bit offensive itself.  I feel like there is a difference between taking a handout that has been offered and begging with a motive to guilt those into giving who may otherwise might not be in a position to give themselves. 

at least he is honest
Now, I guess that is assuming that the man was bullshitting us. And that is where my dilemma comes in.  If my assumptions were wrong, then I would feel bad, horrible in fact. And if my assumptions were right, I'd be mad that I was preyed upon, so either way I get no piece of mind. 
The second scenario just happened yesterday. I went to Rite Aid on the corner of East Ridge Road and Hudson. (again, not the best of neighborhoods) I walked in while on the phone with Craig. As I hung up, I noticed a woman standing a few feet away, staring at me. She said that she was waiting for me to hang up so she could ask me a question. She was wondering if I could spare some money so she could get some orange juice and feminine pads. According to her, she was a few dollars short. I just told her that I had no cash, I was paying with a credit card, sorry. So she walked away. 
I just felt like this woman saw a clean cut, young chick come in while talking on a cell phone, she must have money. I couldn't help but think that she thought I was an easy target, especially this time of the year. 
Am I the totally crazy and should just lighten up? Should I even care what the money is being spent on and just give and be on my way? Am I truly the Grinch who left a poor man's children freezing in a car and a woman malnourished and hemorrhaging in the street? I honestly don't know and probably never will...


  1. You did the right thing. You cannot help people by randomly handing out cash in the street. 99.9% of the stories are nonsense. The best thing you can do is make regular contributions to known organizations that help, like Foodlink, Open Door Mission, the Red Cross, various shelters, etc. They can use the money to really help people without it being diverted for the wrong purposes.

  2. When people approach me by a store, I walk in with them and buy specific items requested. That's probably what I would have done with the lady. I also carry flyers for the outreach that works out the church building I work out of and distribute them when people ask for handouts.

  3. A beggar once gave me all of their change and tried to bite me. I usually tell beggars that I can't speak English.