Paying the Beggar Man

Posted on January 26, 2012

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I think sometimes, beggars are angels visiting us.

 

Ever since I can remember, there has always been a Beggar Man. Most of the time he or she is found in the city. When I was younger, we never saw then in my hometown, but as times have changed in 40 years, you can see them now.

Anyway, as I move full on into adulthood and began to go more places and see more people and more of the place upon place and street upon street of business and housing, I also began to notice that some beggars do it for a living and some do it as a last resort.

I have given Pan-handlers as they used to be called money, and I have given money to they guy playing guitar on the sidewalk and the guy with the cup and sign that says he won’t lie he needs cigarettes and beer. (Those of you reading this from Indy know who I am talking about most likely.)

I also give to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, needy families and animal shelters.

But once in a while, when a stranger is standing on a busy exit ramp (risking life and limb) or approaches me in a parking lot, I will give them something if I have it to give. Sometimes I am not in a place to give and I just say so.

“Sorry, but today I am broke too.”

This honest guy just wants to get back home! :0)

Sometimes if I have no money to give, I say a prayer. My prayer is always the same no matter who it is for:

“May you be blessed with a hot meal and warm, dry place to sleep. Thank you Creator.”

The thing I have learned in life is that there is no one with nothing to give, EVERYONE can give a prayer. It is our “one for sure” thing nobody can take away from us because we do not have to pray out loud in order for The Creator to understand us or hear our communication.

I have several very interesting stories about begging that have happened over my life.

One that is very comical is the day a “professional escort” approached me in the parking lot of my work. She gave the “need money for the bus” spiel. I have heard that one before. Anyway, I have not bills on me and I had seen her walking up and downWashington St.many times, so I got in my console and grabbed out about two dollars worth of change (her lucky day-I had not been to Wendy’s for French fires). So I turn around and she is standing there with a cup so I toss the handful of change into her 32 oz. fountain soda cup.

“What’d you do that for!?” She exclaimed, looking very puzzled.

I was lost. I thought what the eff….she asked for money and has a cup?!

 

“I thought the cup was for the money you are collecting.” I said nervously, feel a rush of embarrassment come over me. Embarrassment b/c I dropped change into the 32oz soda this person who had just asked me for a hand out was drinking.

I looked at her and busted out laughing.

“Well, I guess you will just have to finish your drink before you can use that money!”

She laughed, thanked me and was on her way.

Most of the time if you have a cup and ask for money someone is gonna throw it in there!

I gave another guy a buck one morning after another co-worker told him no as I was coming into work. Seems I must work on a street heavily travelled by those on foot and in need of money!

My latest encounter will most likely be the most memorable. It was last Friday. Bitter cold day, one of the coldest we have had this winter inIndianapolis. I was at the gas pump and I have my coat hood up to shield from the wind.

I hear a faint “Ma’am?” I pay no attention as it seems far away and not for me. Then I hear it again, a bit stronger.

I turn to see an older gentleman, a bit shorter than me, holding some papers. I figured it was a special needs solicitation.

I asked what he needed and he asked if he could come closer. (He was standing about 30 feet from me at this point.)

I said sure and asked what he needed again. I knew it was money. It was cold! And I just wanted to hear the why so I could decide whether to give him any and be on my way.

He stepped so he was about 15 feet away.

He started telling me about himself. He introduced himself, Robert Lewis Sr.

He had, in plastic protective sleeves, documents about his granddaughter that was inKentucky. That is what he was “begging” for money to do. (Yes, he actually told me “I am out here begging to day to raise money to go get my grand baby.) To go get her and bring her home to her family. Her father (Robert’s Son) had taken his own life back in 2008 in front of their church. (He had the pamphlet from the funeral service in his well worn protective sleeves.)

I told him I remembered that story, b/c at first they thought it was a murder, but later decided it was not. Robert said that was funny b/c he had just talked to a policeman that was on the scene that day. Gotta love “The Fates”.

He ends his plea with an out for me.

“If you don’t have it, just say so, I understand.”

By this time I have discerned that this gut is legit. He does not have a script, he is not smooth. The story does not fall from his lips like someone running lines for rehearsal. He bounced from one thought to the next, trying to explain why this man was standing in the cold at a gas station asking me for money.

I had about five dollars in one and a twenty. I do not have to even tell you that money is tight and $20 is about 3 days worth of gas to and from work. So, I stopped and said a prayer.

Seriously, I would be dropping some cash in both cups! Kinda chokes you up a bit doesn't it? Would your pet help you out like that?

“Which one?” I asked that knowing, loving place inside of me. “Like you haven’t wasted $20 on things worth much less than the good vibration you will be giving?!” The Creator answered very plainly.

Robert said, “Oh I appreciate that you are going to help me. Here I will stand over here with my back turned.”

Yes folks, seriously, he turned his back and stepped AWAY from my car as I got my purse.

“God Bless you, Robert and Good Luck! The very Best to you and I know it is going to turn out just fine for all of you.”

I handed him the money. He teared up. He stammered. He was so thankful for my generosity. And I was not feeling generous; I was feeling like I was doing my share in helping the world go around. He then removed his glove and shook my hand. With tears on his face, he gave me one of those open, pat on the back hugs, blessed and thanked me again. I bid him good luck again and got in my warm car. I saw him walking back up toward the grocery as I was pulling out of the parking lot.

I really hope Robert gets his granddaughter and that the life they have together is more wonderful than they have even imagined.

For those of you reading this thinking there is no good reason could I have for taking a chance on giving my money to a con-artist, I say this:

I “Pay the beggar man” so that if I was to ever be in similar circumstances as person, someone like me might give me a few dollars or a prayer of goodwill when I need it most. It is a gesture to The Creator that I understand that person is no better or worse than me, only different.

The quote “There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” in a simple sentence. I do not  feel I HAVE to, but that I want to uplift and support those who for whatever reasons, must live by asking others for charity. Even if the only thing I give them is a warm thought and a good luck wish, at least it was something. And everyone can use a good thought from someone else, everyday.

Would you spare this guy a dime?

How do you feel about panhandlers? Have you ever given a person who was “begging” money? Any funny or fond memories of helping someone who was homeless or in need?

Please share with everyone the reasons why you are or are not a person who ”Pays the Beggar Man.”