Hubby and I went downtown last week for our Gail meeting, and were about an hour early. We decided to walk a couple of blocks down Dundas Street, from Wellington to Richmond and back to kill some time. Unfotunately, most of the shops that I wanted to browse in were closed already (most of downtown shops close by 6 pm), so we looked in through windows to see their wares.
Headed back toward the coffee shop, there was a man sitting on the sidewalk, holding his ball cap upside down to catch change that passersby may toss to him. He didn't outright ask for money, but we knew what he was asking anyway. As we got closer, I noticed he had a cut on his head that sported about 7 stitches, and the side of his face was bruised. He was of Native Canadian background. his clothes were slightly dirty. He just looked down on his luck.
Anyone who knows me at all, knows that I don't like to just give money to beggars, panhandlers or whatever they're called these days. I prefer, if I'm going to just give someone my money, to give it to someone who shows a bit of entreprenurial spirit. The squeegee kids who wash my windshield at the red light I'm stopped at for example. At least they're willing to do *something* to try to make some money. But for folks just looking for a handout? Not blinking likely.
Something about this fella just spoke to me inside. Maybe it was because he's of native decent. Maybe it was the cut on his head. I'm not really sure why, but as we were about to pass him, I pulled my arm away from hubby's, stopped and crouched down to actually speak to this man. I wanted him to see me. I wanted to look into his eyes. I wanted him to know that he wasn't invisible to me.
Me: "How's it going buddy?"
Him: "Not bad. Kind of a slow night."
Me: "Are you doing alright?"
Him: "Not too bad."
Me: "Hope your night gets better. Take care of yourself, alright?" (As I press a $10 bill into his hand.)
Him: "Yeah. Ok. Thanks."
I stood up and smiled at hubby. We resumed our walk. Hubby says, "Why'd you do that?"
I just smiled and said, " I dunno. Because I felt like it." I shrug away the question.
Since then I've been thinking and thinking about why I did. Why that man in particular. He may have been looking for enough money for his next fix, or another bottle, or rent money for all I know. I didn't ask why he needed it, I just know that he needed help. And I needed to make a connection with him, if only for a second. I needed him to know that I knew he was there. I needed to touch his hand briefly while I was handing him the money, making human to human contact. Truth is, I think my need to give freely was greater than his need for the money.
The more I think about it, the only real answer I can come up with as to why I did it is simply because it made me feel good.