Why I’m Not Generous To Strangers

After I wrote that title, I had to sit back for a handful of seconds and contemplate what I had actually just typed out. Because wow, I make myself seem like an extraordinarily uncaring person. So let me explain.

I am one of those people who second guesses and double checks everything. I ask a hundred questions before making a decision, and I love research. So when a strange man walks up to me and asks me for $5, I my first and immediate reaction is a simple ‘no’. The keyword here is ‘strange’, as in stranger, meaning I don’t know you at all. I don’t even consider you an acquaintance. I tend not to hand money to people standing in medians in the middle of highways holding signs asking for money. I just don’t, whether I have cash on me (which is rare) or not. I know there are honest, decent, down-on-their-luck people who are just looking to get enough money for a meal, or catch a bus, or get into a homeless shelter for the night. I’m sure they’re out there. And I know, in the eyes of others, that makes me a terrible, un-Christian person.

This entire thought process came to my attention earlier this afternoon when I pulled into my own front yard. A man that I had never met, let alone seen before, was standing in the yard of my immediate next door neighbor waving hi to me frantically. I step out of my car, holding my purse and a small bag that had hot food in it. This guy starts talking loudly to me across my yard, asking me when my parents will get home. Apparently, according to the strange man, my parents have told him that he can ask them for ‘help’ whenever he needs it, and he had been standing out in the yard for several hours waiting to see when my parents would be home to ask them for money. Seriously. I told him that sorry, my parents wouldn’t be home anytime soon as they were out of town at my grandfather’s house. He looked immediately crestfallen and then proceeded to try and charm me to first loan him $5, saying that he would repay me $10 when he got paid tomorrow (on a Monday…?), and then when I said I didn’t have cash (because I honestly didn’t), he asked if I could give him a ride up to the corner store, go into the store with him, and then pay for his cigarettes with my card since I didn’t have cash. I am really, really not kidding here.

All of this took place in my front yard, where I was clearly holding food, and there was no one else home. I cannot fully convey how uncomfortable I was. This guy also introduced himself, which I think he said his name was Rob, and then smiled and kept talking to me like we were best friends. He said that now we weren’t strangers and that if I should change my mind about helping him, he would continue to be out in the front yard next door. Wonderful.

When my parents do get home, I’m going to have to calmly talk to this about them. I don’t want them to stop giving what they are already comfortable with doing. I’m just going to explain to them that their generosity can sometimes have consequences. Fortunately, I was not harmed or accosted in anyway. But I do know that that is not always the case and I hope to never experience that.

So I do apologize to the homeless/financially-strapped population at large, but this is a case when one person has indeed reaffirmed my reluctance to extend a helping hand, be it physically or monetarily. I wish the world was a better, safer place.

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