Tuesday, September 06, 2005

five dollars - part 2

a few months ago, i wrote a post about some lady standing outside of the walmart parking lot. i don't remember what her sign said. i drove by, ignored her, turned around, drove by again, and gave her five dollars. i really don't remember much about the whole event. i do remember her smile. it seemed so full of sincerity and gratitude. it gave me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. i try to play like i'm all charitable, but maybe that's a lie. maybe it's all selfish. maybe i didn't give a damn about her. maybe i just do it for the temporary high of being a good guy.

a couple nights ago i needed something to eat, so i took a walk over to subway to grab something. maybe i'd get lucky again and would score another free sandwhich. not so lucky this time. the damell sumbitches closed at seven. with a smudge of disappointment, i set off toward wendy's for something to fill my stomache. after an hour or so of them trying to swipe my aging debit card, i began my trek home with a fresh spring mix salad in my arsenal.

she was out there again that night. standing at the same parking lot exit she had been when i gave her a portrait of lincoln. standing at the same parking lot exit she has been standing at every day since i have given her a crisp five dollar bill. standing at the same parking lot exit she has been standing at every day for months. standing there. holding another sign. asking more people for money.

this time i remember what her sign said. single mother. need help to pay utilities. i didn't have any cash on me this time, so i offered her my salad. she gave me that grin and told me she and her kids had already eaten. she gave me that exact same smile she had given me months before and told me that her neighbors had treated her family to a wonderful meal. she smiled and said no thank you. i asked her for a copy of her utility bill and offered to pay it. same smile. same denile.

off in the distance, i could see a green van that she and her tattered sign had emerged from. in the drivers' seat was a man in his early to mid thirties. caucasion. small build. shaved/balding hair. he sat in the van and watched my interactions with her. creep, accomplice, or another in need? i couldn't tell.

i don't know what to think. i don't want to judge. i don't want to not help.

these people are everywhere. outside compusa, a middle-aged man holds up a sign. stranded in utah. any help would be appreciated. who doesn't feel stranded in utah? he wears a navy blue ball-cap, a while polo shirt, and jeans. he's been holding up this sign for at least six months now. stranded for this long? i drive by and think to myself get off your ass and start walking. you'd be home by now. i shouldn't judge.

my goal now is to do something i've always wanted to do, but never really had the guts to follow through with. i'm going to talk to them. find out their stories. find out who they are. find out what they are doing. victim, in need, or con-artist? the truth should come out. each story, probably just as interesting as the other.


  1. I think you should mark out a weekend and offer to give the stranded guy a ride anywhere he wants.

  2. i thought about it, but i've already had a scary-as-hell experience in giving a total stranger a ride before. though the incident turned out to be nothing, it's made me weary of offering rides to strange guys.

  3. I like giving rides to strange guys. I'll go with ya'.

  4. I like to trust, but i don't want to be guilty of supporting 'other-than-worthy causes'. But if people are really destitute, they are usually willing to back the claim with only gratitude and no spite.


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