We’ve all seen them…they’re on the sides of the road or at intersections or at parking lot exits with signs, some creative, that let you know they need money or work or food. Sometimes you help them and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you feel for them and know in your heart that the problem is genuine and other times you know in your heart that any money you give them will go where you didn’t intend it to go. This blog post is not about judgement either way.
I used to have a soft spot for my fellow veterans on the side of the road but became a little skeptical after finding out some of them weren’t veterans at all. This doesn’t mean they still don’t need some help, but when you start out with a lie, it gets harder to believe anything else. Then again, people will do whatever they have to so they can survive. I wonder, however, whether lying, stealing, and cheating is acceptable if you’re trying to survive?
The other night, my wife and I watched “Cinderella Man,” a story about the boxer Jimmy Braddock and his experience through the Great Depression. In one scene, he’s returning a salami that his son had stolen from the butcher and he emphasized to his son that no matter how bad things get, you never take what isn’t yours. Back then, your word was your word and your honor and integrity mattered. It still does in some circles today, but definitely not as much. Lying and cheating and stealing are nearly an acceptable way of life in many circles now, to include our government. Sad, but still not the subject of my blog post.
The actual subject of my blog post was a woman I recently saw on the side of a parking lot exit. Like some of the others, she was holding a cardboard sign. The sign read, “Hungry, please help.” Normal sign, normal person asking for help…except she was dressed in a loose fitting t-shirt and a skirt. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a person on the side of the road asking for help while wearing a skirt…no law against it, but it was different. I soon found out why she was wearing a skirt.
I was the third vehicle back waiting my turn to enter the road when I noticed her smiling and waving at the car in front. Then she looked around before flipping her sign over. This side of the sign read, “Top $10 bottom $20.” Now I was curious. I wasn’t curious because I’m a dirty old man, I was just curious. I had never seen anything like this before.
Apparently, she got the sign she wanted from the car in front of me. She walked up to the passenger window and the driver leaned over and gave her some money. She smiled, looked around again, then lifted her shirt for the driver. I guess they gave her $10. Then she lowered her shirt and waved at him before we all had the chance to drive by.
At first, I thought like some of you, what an awful thing to have to do to get money. Then I started thinking about the people who would give her money just to see some flesh. I thought, well, that’s pretty awful too. Then I suddenly realized that I had more of a problem with the paying customers than I did with her. She actually came up with something that parted those awful people from their money. It was actually quite genius.
Now, I don’t know if that woman was really homeless or not, but I’ll bet she made a lot of money that day. Good for her…I guess.