Encounter with a panhandling couple

Earlier this year I wrote a blog entry about panhandling. A friend of mine in Phoenix recalled that entry (and a conversation we had) and sent along the story below. He asked that his name not be used.

Would you have reacted the same way and made the sacrifice he did? Here’s his story:

A few months ago there ensued in conversation and later on a blog of my friend Pete, a question as to what one would do if presented with a homeless/hungry person on the street.

This morning I was confronted with that very issue, and my response is the same one I’ve made before and would make again.

Perhaps it was the heat; perhaps just the way I was feeling this morning; or perhaps it was the look in their eyes; a young couple standing in a parking lot with the obligatory sign:  “Homeless and Hungry.”  They were young, way too young to be in this particular situation, and yet there they were.  As I passed by them the first time, I almost missed seeing them.  a boy and a girl, backpacks on the ground, dressed in rumpled dirty clothes, and yet, somehow appearing as neat as could be expected, standing under a tree for shade.

I felt it in my gut.  That old tugging that was not going to let me pass these people by.  I knew I had little and wouldn’t have much until the Social Security check hits on the 20th, but something kept hammering me that this was the real deal.

So I turned the car around, went into McDonald’s, and bought two double stacks and two french fries.  Total came to $4.38.  I took the bag, jumped in the car and went around the corner.  They were still there.

Opening the window, I pulled up to them and said, “Things a little crappy for ya, are they”?

He mumbled, “Yes, sir.”  I said, “Well, they just improved,” and handed him the bag. I gave him a buck and told him to go to the Circle K just down the street to get pop, cause it was cheaper than McDonald’s.  They thanked me, and I drove off.

I may have to borrow gas money this weekend, but I know of two people who can eat today, and who might get something more important out of a random act of kindness.  Try it some time, folks.  It’s a great feeling!

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2 Responses to Encounter with a panhandling couple

  1. I too have purchased sandwiches for homeless individuals I’ve run across. I’m blessed that I don’t know the anguish of hunger and wish no one had to. I’ve also spent time volunteering for shelters throughout my life and have become acquainted with the many services available around town for those who wish to seek them out. From churches to city supported shelters, this is a generous town when it comes to feeding those in need. I like to provide that information to those I encounter. Some are already aware they exist. Others may be new to the valley & have no idea where to turn. I often hesitate to give cash, but try to take the time to provide some food or water. I even keep shoes & clothes in my trunk that I would otherwise donate to Good Will just in case I run across someone who could use a better pair of shoes, much needed socks, a baseball cap to offer some protection from the sun or any other article of clothing. I don’t take my own good fortune for granted nor do I judge another in need to deem them worthy of my charity. We are all God’s children & need to assist each other in those times of need.

    • Peter Faur says:

      Great points, Mike. I agree; there’s no reason to be judgmental. A twist of fate here or there, and who knows how things might be different for each of us?

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