Last Friday on my way home from work, I stopped by the mini-mart to grab a couple items. As I was leaving and heading to my car, a woman approached me—from her tattered red t-shirt and toiled skin, I figured she was homeless. In a quavering voice, she asked if I could give her some cash to purchase a loaf of bread. As she came closer, I noticed she was slightly trembling and had severely cracked lips. She had bloodshot eyes surrounded by jaded crow’s feet; her face creased like vellum. Right off the bat, I could tell she was on some kind of substance abuse.
I hesitated to give her cash in hand because I knew there was a high possibility she’d use it to satisfy her addiction rather than get herself something to eat.
“Sure, I’ll go back inside and get you a loaf of bread,” I said in a matter-of-fact tone.
She looked at me, a bit disappointed that I wasn’t going to give her cash, “I prefer the bread at the bakery,” she said, as she pointed a few buildings down the street to the bakery shop, “they last longer.”
That was true—she might have been homeless but she sure did know good bread. “Okay, I’ll get you that one instead. Can you meet me over there to collect it?”
She nodded and said thanks.
As I was getting into my car to head there, I noticed she was walking in the opposite direction, away from the bakery that she pointed out. I thought maybe she was going to meet someone for a second and come back. I sat in my car and waited while looking questionably at her in the rear view mirror. She kept walking steadily, not looking back. Shortly after, the image of her became faint and she disappeared into the distance.
I exhaled in distress and drove home.
Obviously she used the ‘hunger card’ to coax her way into getting some cash for ‘you know what’—well at least she tried to. Still, on my entire drive home I kept wondering: should I have given her the cash?
What would you have done?
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