Please don’t OD with my dollar.
To whom should I give my spare dollar today? To which of the pleas/entreaties should I respond?
- The woman with the baby on her hip is a no brainer. She has a baby. That is a struggle I understand.
- The woman by the elevator at her regular perch by the Orange Line elevator on Washington Street? Not again.
- The self-proclaimed vet with the sign on Gallivan Blvd? Yes, something in his countenance makes me give without hesitation.
- The severely disabled man on the tram? The striking blind-man whose eyes are severely scarred?
If I cried easily, today is a day I’d cry in sorrow and in dismay as I am approached by yet another person, who may or may not be homeless, who may or may not be hustling.
Don’t let my dollars be the one you OD on, I think. Some people are clearly hustling for money to get high, drink or smoke. Others, it’s difficult to tell.
Are they really just trying to get enough money to get back to Fitchburg, Worcester, or crosstown? Are they just trying to get a sandwich? Is the story on the handwritten placard in Somerville, Harvard Square, Downtown Crossing true?
No matter what, it seems to me that getting to the point where you ask or beg for money is demeaning. The person is needy in some way even if it’s not the way I would choose to contribute to.
The regular guy at Field’s Corner Station in the evening? “Can you spare a dollar?” Sometimes yes, but today not. “Have a good night,” he says whether you do or don’t. I am annoyed that he and the others outside the Panera on Huntington Ave. are daily presences, but then isn’t being broke a daily condition until something happens and you are no longer broke?
The fourth person to ask me on this day, I just can’t. I’ve already given to three people today – three dollars. Not much money in the grand scheme of things, but something about the fourth approach takes me aback. I begin my dialogue with myself. No….well…. Why not a fourth?
It is easier to give to the young people hustling candy on the subway. I used to only see this type of ask on New York City trains. It is harder to give to others.
Sometimes I’ve walked pass a person and something compels me to turnaround and go back and give. Other times, I can walk right by as though they are invisible especially the loud and colorful regulars. Thank you for opening the door for me but I am not paying the fee. No, I don’t want a copy of Spare Change – I bought one copy earlier and I’ve been asked by two people in the space of two blocks.
Sometimes I feel pity. Other times sorrow. Other times, resentment, as when the person peppers me with a full story that seems rehearsed and therefore, somehow, not true or when I’m asked for a specific amount – “Can you spare a dollar?” What if I can only spare 50 cents? How about that?
I am embarrassed when thanked effusively – I just want to give and keep it moving, a simple acknowledgement will do. I am annoyed when I’m not thanked – my dollar is taken and the person is already on to the next folks passing by.
(Note: I do give to non-profit organizations regularly, this does not prevent me from wanting to give to humans I encounter daily.)