Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bummed Out

A couple of weeks ago I was walking to my friend's apartment to go to a birthday party for one of my friends in the YSA branch. The apartment was about two miles away and I was walking alone on a Sunday night.

As I was crossing the bridge on Michigan Avenue, I noticed a man begging for money, saying that he needed food. He had a two-year-old little boy with him and the man was pleading with everyone saying that he just wanted some food to feed his little boy. I only had a credit card, so I told him that I didn't have any cash and kept walking, but then I started feeling bad that I didn't offer to help at all. I thought of the little boy and couldn't help but think of my nieces and nephews.

At first I was thinking that I couldn't help him out because it was a Sunday and I didn't want to break the sabbath, but then I tried to think of what the Savior really would've done in that situation. I was a couple of blocks past him but felt like I should turn around, so I did. I walked up to him and said, "Hey, you need food?"

The man nodded.

"Cross the street with me," I said. "There's a Subway half a block south of here."

He winced upon hearing Subway and breathed in through his teeth in disappointment and said, "Aw man, Subway?"

I was surprised that he didn't want to eat fresh.

"Were you hoping to go some place else?" I asked.

"I dunno, I was thinkin' like McDonalds or somethin'. You know, to get a Happy Meal...for the kid," he said, pointing to his son.

Apparently beggers can be choosers.

I asked him if there was a McDonalds close by and he told me there was one about six-and-a-half blocks north on Michigan. I started to see where he was going with this.

"Alright, let's start walking," I said.

"Aw man," he said in a whiney tone. "That's pretty far. I don't wanna walk that far. I was prob'ly gonna to take the bus."

At that point, I was so frustrated with this guy that I just walked away from him. I couldn't take it anymore. I was bummed out. I couldn't believe how demanding this guy was when I tried to help him, and how selfish it was of him to make his son stand in the cold so he could get cash, not food, from people.

It reminded me of all the people that would try to hit me up for money on my mission. After I told one guy in Toronto that I didn't have any money he said, "Well, don't you have a credit card or something? Can't you go to the ATM?" The nerve.

The one time I really felt like we should give a guy money I didn't have any, so I told my senior companion to give him some. My companion handed him five or ten dollars and then we both watched the guy we had just helped walk across the street to the Beer Store to load up for the weekend. I was so mad I could barley stand it.


Allison said...

Oh Bob. I know. I know from experience. (this is allison maughan...) I lived in New York for a while and this homeless guy "lived" outside of a church on Broadway on the same block as a bagel store. The homeless guy always had a sign that said "hungry, please help".

One day I bought an extra bagel and went outside to hand it to him. When I held the bag out he said, "aw lady. Is that a bagel? I just get so many bagels." I just walked away. He didn't want it! I couldn't believe it! If he was so sick of bagels why didn't he move up half a block to the McDonalds! Or over one block to the pizza place! I was sooo mad! I just don't get it. So frustrating huh?

Ruth Ann said...

I don't know if 'the I could"barley" stand it' was a pun or typo, but since you're so clever, I'm assuming it was on purpose. I love your kind heart. Maybe he thought you'd spring for a taxi. Mom

Bobby said...

You're right mom, it was supposed to be barley. Pun intended.

Krista said...

yes, but that was a great tasting beer I'm sure.
Addictions are really difficult and facing life day in day out is sometimes too much for people so they hide in an addiction. I know you probably know that.
Also, in my studies at school we learned that most of the homeless were mentally disabled. I echo your mom, you have a very kind heart.

johnnyboy said...

Beggars can be choosers...LOL.

If you see that guy again, you should definitely give him some monopoly money. Then, when he winces again, you can say, "PSYCHE!" That would be a cruel way.

Joseph said...

It's always surprising when bums stink in a whole new way.

I'm proud of you for giving him the benefit of the doubt time after time. Don't let one lousy bum change your whole outlook on helping the homeless.