When David and I were out walking with Rigby on a recent Sunday, a glorious late fall day in New York, we stopped to get a hot chocolate. (I only took a few sips!) While we were sitting on the bench outside the shop where we bought the treat, a man (I’d guess he was in his 50s) approached to ask for money for “something to eat.”
“Can you give him some money?” I asked David, since I had left my handbag home.
“Bless you,” the man said, as David handed him a few dollar bills, and off we went to buy some Velcro to fix a newly broken shelf in our Sub-Zero refrigerator, which was stocked with post-Thanksgiving leftovers. I bring up the brand of the refrigerator, as well as the contents, because we clearly are blessed with a great deal more than this man.
Ever since I was a teenager, I have been empathetic to people asking for money on the street or in the subway.
Although I’ve read articles over the years about different “scam artists” who pose as homeless people, I think I’m pretty safe in assuming that a severely handicapped person who struggles to get from one subway car to the next isn’t scamming anyone.
Homeless people aren’t the only ones who ask for money in New York.
You might hear Beethoven coming from a talented violinist at one subway station; Calypso music at another, and a singer serenading passengers at a third. I often give money to these people, too.
Some friends think I’m an utter fool to give away money like this–they’ve told me so– and although they’re certainly entitled to their own opinions, I wish they’d keep it to themselves. It saddens me greatly to see anyone begging publicly. Of course, I’d like to think that those taking the money aren’t using it to buy liquor or drugs, but if they are, so be it. You shouldn’t be generous to someone and then control how or where they use your gift.
We each have our own way of giving to others, and one method isn’t preferable to another.
If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, it’s great if you can afford to give away billions in Facebook stock. Or write a hefty check to you favorite charity. I am not wealthy, and I usually like to give on a “one-to-one” basis. My giving doesn’t involve money all the time, either. Often, giving of your time or emotions means a great deal more.
No one is going to compare me to Mother Teresa any time soon. I simply believe we must each find it in our heart to be generous to our fellow man, and woman, and consider ourselves lucky to have something to give.