Charity does have its drawbacks

Published: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 04:32 PM.

On one of our trips to Key West, Fla., many years ago, my wife Ann and I were walking from Mallory Square along Duval Street on the way to our hotel. A scruffy guy was sitting with his back against a lamppost, his legs stretched into the sidewalk.

We dodged his legs and I caught a glimpse of the sign he held. It said, "I’m not going to lie, I need a beer." He had a cup beside him for donations.

I’d already passed when the message registered in my mind. Let me say it was late. I was tired, so my brain wasn’t operating at its usual blinding speed. Not.

I told Ann I should go back and give him some money as a reward for honesty. Since our culture seems to be slipping into a sea of duplicity, it was refreshing to see someone maintaining a toehold on the truth, even if those toes peeked through worn out shoes.

I didn’t return and have somewhat regretted it, although I have managed to handle my guilt. But since that day, I’ve paid more attention to panhandler signage. These folks have stories.

Driving through Orlando, Fla., we were caught by a stoplight. A guy at that intersection held a sign proclaiming he needed money to eat and was seeking employment.

My first instinct screamed that I was being conned. But then it dawned on me, "So what?" I’ve wasted a ton of money in my life, so why not assume this guy was telling the truth? I handed him a $20 bill and felt good about doing so.



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