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Between a Rock and a Soft Place

January 30, 2009

Something’s been eating at me all day.   I left the station at 12:30 AM after Wednesday night’s news, and got stopped by a red light at Summit and Cherry…just outside the station.   When I stopped, a man started walking  across the street toward my passenger window, trying to get my attention.   I put my hand up, and told him not to come any closer…and he pointed to a woman who was standing over on the sidewalk and said “We lost our Greyhound ticket and need to buy another one.  It’s going to cost $25.  Anything you can do towards it would be great.”   

I have found myself at this crossroads before.  I am a bleeding heart.   I’ve given money to people on the streets many times before;  some who had compelling stories, and some who have not.    One obviously homeless man stopped me outside a SUBWAY restaurant one evening and told me how hungry he was…did I have any money?   I instead took him inside the restaurant and bought him a sandwich.   He seemed genuinely grateful.   One lady was all dressed up but looking panicked as she ran toward my car (during daylight hours–again at a stoplight) and told me she was on her way to a job interview–even told me the name of the business–and said she ran out of gas.  She was now running late, and really needed this job…could I help her with some gas money?    Of course, I did.  I’ve always wondered if she got the job.  

Yes, I know there’s a possibility these stories are made up…but sometimes people just need a little help.  Especially during our current economy.   Thus, my dilemma last night.   My heart wanted to give those people the money.  My brain (from working in tv news where you see lots of stories about people who offer to give someone a hand, and then get hurt or killed in the process) told me to tell him no.  Last night I didn’t have any cash, which made it easy to listen to my brain; but I wondered all night about those people and what their story was.  Maybe they were just looking for a handout.  Maybe they really found themselves in a bind and mustered up all the courage they had to ask a complete stranger for help.    That’s what’s been eating away at me all day.  I would have liked to have helped that couple.   It was cold and snowy outside…and maybe they just really needed help. 

 It angers me that so many “bad apples” have made us come to expect the worms.

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9 comments

  1. I too have been approached by different individuals asking for a favor. One such person asked for money to buy gas for his car as he had forgotten his wallet and was on his way to a funeral. I gave him $10 to buy gas. That was the first and last such give-a-way. I truely believe I was scammed but who really knows.

    Others have asked since for such favors but as you said in your blog, you really don’t know for sure. Isn’t it a shame you can’t believe every story you hear?


  2. You did the right thing … As much as we want to, we can’t help everyone every time so we do what we can and trust God for the rest. It’s sad that our culture has trained us to be wary of anyone asking for help. Keep your soft heart — it’s what your public loves about you.
    K


  3. Your right…you never know what is the right thing to these days. There’s some homeless people out there, that rather stay homeless and ask people for money so that they can go buy cigarettes, drugs or alcohol for their addictions. So the thing that you were saying about the person that was hungry outside of subway, and how you went in and bought the sandwich rather than just giving him the money, That is exactly the type of thing that everyone should do if they want to help someone. So that you know it’s going to a good cause. It’s too bad that those types of people ruin it for the people that really do need help.


  4. Hi Chris,

    I feel the same way as you; I have also been approached and given money to people I feel I can help. But, maybe it’s just me — but the gentleman approaching you from one side and the woman on the other side???? Sometimes things just don’t look right and we have to go with our gut feeling.. This is a hard world we live in when we have to be afraid to reach out to someone.

    Donna


  5. It is so hard to know what is the right thing to do in most instances. I’ve been on both sides (needing and giving). I was stationed at Fort Bragg during Desert Storm and our neighbor asked us to take her up to the airport in Washington to pick up her husband early instead of waiting for him to fly in. I agreed but knew I would be short on gas money to make the trip. She assured me her husband would have some gas money to get us back to post. But, as luck would have it his plane had been diverted and here we were stuck at the airport and no gas. Long story short, I started asking for hand outs, no luck until a police officer gave me a $20 bill. I was so thankful and was able to get back to Bragg before morning formation. Other times I have stopped and helped folks on the side of the road, and I have had the same kindness returned more than once. But like you said, so many bad apples make it hard to make a decision to return a kindness.


  6. Chrys,
    I think that now I will be laying there at night hoping that you make it home safely. :o) The hours you travel the streets make someone being a vagrant seems even more deceitful. You are a brave lady! I often think when I go to sleep or wake up at 4:30, wow…those people are there still…or already. The morning crew makes me get up…well, if they are up…I think I should be up too! Hats off to you & be safe!


  7. Hi Chrys, I always feel for anyone less fortunate than me and try to help whoever I can. I was at a Greyhound station in Virginia a few years back and went outside to smoke and there was a young man asking various people for a dollar. I can’t remember what his reason was but I did give him a dollar. Four days later I was at that same bus terminal leaving to return to Toledo, went out for a smoke and there he was again, asking people for money. He obviously didn’t remember me and came up to me as I was getting ready to smoke. ” Hey,.. can you spare a dollar? I asked him what he did with the dollar I gave him the other day. He looked at me and didn’t bother anyone else while I was out there. Things like that tick me off, make me feel like I will fall for anything. I will feed someone who is hungry or steer them in the right direction for whatever help they need, but I am very leary to hand out money. It’s too bad that our country still has homeless and hungry people while we help millions overseas with food and shelter. When I do give someone money for whatever, I can only hope the use it for the reason they stated. I think God gives people kind hearts to see if they will use them, and you Chrys have one of the kindest hearts of all. Just be careful out there.


  8. Being of soft heart and caring for people is not a bad thing and certainly not a character flaw. I don’t carry much cash, my husband and I live paycheck to paycheck but I know what it’s like to be down and out so if someone needs something and I can help them I do. If your scammed by someone who doesn’t need it, well you still the right thing by beleiving their story and assuming they didn’t lie to you. What they do with your kindness is up to them and they are the one who has to answer to their maker someday.


  9. Chrys,

    First of all I watch you everyday on Ch. 11 and think that the whole station is doing a wonderful job. I am a big fan of yours and the causes that you do. I participate in the Race for the Cure every year and even got a chance to shake you hand one year. I must admit you are much taller in person, though. Well, God blesses those people who bless others. Remember that. Yes, I like you have a soft spot for helping people also. But its like you say I would probably have done the same thing because these days people run so many scams you don’t know what to believe. Keep up the good deeds and the good work at the station !!



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