Thursday, January 10, 2013
I was in Fort Lauderdale this evening and didn't get to my hotel until around 7:30 or so. Since this was one of those rare nights on the road that I was not able to arrange to meet a friend (he wasn't available!), soon after I checked in I got back in my car to look for someplace to get a bite to eat. As I pulled up to an intersection and the light turned red, I noticed a disheveled looking man standing on the side of the road holding a sign that had some sort of plea for help. He was walking among the cars looking for handouts. I was in the middle lane, so he didn't come past my car, but as I sat there I kept thinking that I ought to at least give him something. I rolled down my window to try to get his attention, but the light changed before he ever saw me.
As I pulled away, I kept thinking about this man. "Beggars" like this always present an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, the man could simply be a scam artist. And who knows what decisions led him to this place? On the other hand, does it really matter? At some level, he certainly needed help or he wouldn't be there. And while I'm not in any position to solve whatever his life problems may be, I can certainly at least make today a little better.
So after I got something to eat, I noticed that there was a Subway sandwich shop across the street from where I had originally seen the man. I stopped in and bought a $10 gift card to give to the man so he could get something to eat. The problem, however, was that I he was no longer on the street corner where I had previously seen him! I drove up and down the road a bit in each direction to see if I could catch him, but he was nowhere to be found.
So now I have a Subway gift card that I'll carry in my wallet, looking for just the right recipient.