I was pumping gas. Putting in just a few gallons because the price is high. And he walked up. In his 30s. Not well dressed. Not well spoken. He talked in a low voice. “This isn’t a scam. See that van over there? My wife and daughter are in it. We’re 120 miles from home, and I just don’t have any money left. Can you give me $12?” My standard response is no. It’s based on a tap dance about social service agencies, responsibility, yadda, yadda, yadda. Today I didn’t hesitate. I dipped into my wallet and handed him a $20. He didn’t say much. Just walked away with his head down. I realized that reading Jen’s blog has changed me. I don’t know how he’ll spend it. He may buy food. He may buy gas. He may buy meth. He may laugh his ass off about my gullibility. And he may not. He may just be grateful. And me? I’m not going to miss $20.
Earlier this week a wise and wonderful friend identified for me a need we all have, but don’t often think about. The need for the well being of others. This need might be what drives us to work in prisons, in developing countries, and with the homeless. It may motivate us to have families and to volunteer. It may be the need I’m not thinking about but responding to in handing over a few dollars.