THIS IS A BLOGGING A TO Z CHALLENGE POST
April 1, 2015 – “A”
A few years ago I was taking the train back home from New York City when a clean, well dressed young man came to my car and announced that he had his wallet stolen and that he did not have enough for the train fare. He asked if anyone could help him in anyway.
Immediately, the other passengers' eyes left his gaze, and descended into their laptops, tablets, phones and out of the window. Not one person offered even a dollar to the young man.
As he moved along the aisle of the train, holding onto the seats to keep his balance on the moving train, he looked down at the other passengers that refused to look at him, and I could see the disappointment in his eyes. It seemed that all of his faith in humanity was slipping from his grip.
As he got closer to where I was sitting, I called out to him to ask how much he needed. In that instant I saw a look of despair and lack of faith change to one of hope. He came over to where I was and told me he was short the entire fare. No one on the train would help him. I was on the second to last car of a packed ten car train, sitting towards the rear. He was getting off at the next stop, and the fare was $11.00
I looked into my wallet and all I had was two $20.00 bills and a $10.00. I took out the twenty and handed it to him and told him I didn't have anything smaller, but it was okay to keep the change. He thanked me profusely and headed off in the direction of the conductor at the front of the train.
As he left the car, people around me began to grumble and look at me as if I was some sort of traitor that had betrayed the village trust and had slept with the enemy. People started to make comments under their breath, and one person in the seat on the other side of the aisle let her disgust with me be known.
“I can't believe you encouraged that addict” she scowled at me
“Do you know him?” I asked
“No, but you know that he is going to use that money to buy drugs. Lost wallet my ass! People like you only encourage their drug use!” she snarled at me.
“How are you so certain that he didn't really have his wallet stolen?” I asked her again, finding myself getting angry
“It's all bull shit!” The man next to her chimed in. “I wouldn't trust him for a minute. He's not going to use that money for a train fare, he's going to buy drugs. That's why I wouldn't give him money,”
All of those around him and the lady grunted and nodded in agreement.
“Well, I trusted his story, and if you were not sure he was going to use the money for drugs, then all any of you had to do was just pay the conductor directly. That way you would know he was lieing and you wouldn't be giving him any money” I said, looking back at all of them in disbelief.
“I would not waste my time” the man retorted.
I could not believe what I was hearing. Was I in some sort of inter dimensional universe, placed on a train in a society where everyone was without compassion? This could not be the world that I live in. I sat and stewed in my anger and disgust for a few minutes and decided to get up and move to another car, when the train's car door opened and in returned the young man, his face now showing relief and contentment. He quickly made his way over to me and handed me $9.00.
“Thanks dude! Thank you so, so, so, so much! I am on my was to see my mother who fell sick at work and is in the emergency room in Mt. Kisco hospital. Thanks for giving me the money to buy this ticket” He said loudly as he waved the ticket in the air to show everyone around that he was telling the truth.
“Oh! Sorry to hear that. How are you getting over to the hospital? Is someone picking you up?” I asked
“No. I'll walk” he said as he smiled and thanked me again and started to walk off.
“Wait!” I called after him. “Here …!” I said as I handed him the $9.00 back and reached into my wallet to and gave him another $10.00. “Take a taxi from the station. It's a long walk.”
He thanked me but told me he was fine to walk, but I insisted. I told him he could either take the taxi, or walk and get his mother some flowers. He hesitated, but took the money and thanked me again. He made his way to the door and waited for the train to pull into his station stop. No one said a word around me or even glanced my way.
The train pulled in and the young man exited, not before turning back to wave and thank me again. He walked off quickly to the staircase and the train's doors closed behind him and he disappeared.
As the train pulled out and after the announcement of the next station stop the same woman that chastised me earlier for giving the young man money, looked and me in disgust.
“I don't believe you fell for that bull crap!” she said
I left the train car in total disbelief.
I hear it so often that We must never give the homeless money because we are just feeding their “habit”. But who are we to judge whether a person uses the money for food or drink? If we are going to give, we need to give without attachment, without consequences and without expectations. Truly being charitable means we need to let go of every sort of judgement when we let go of that dollar bill. It's no longer yours. You have given it away. Let it go.