Thursday, September 23, 2010

You'll Never Read This...

What is it about us as a human race that instantly allows us to see the bad in people before we see the good? I honestly think it's because our generations have seen more bad than good in people, so it makes us question the motives of everyone we meet.

I like to think that I'm different. I like to think that I give everyone an equal chance if I don't know them. However, yesterday I proved that I am not immune to the pull of the suspicious nature that lurks inside of me.

The Missus and I were eating in Subway, and in walked a guy who was not wearing the best of clothes, and he just looked...wormy. You know the type. He walked up to the counter and asked for a plastic bag to put a couple of candy bars in, then he asked if someone was available. The young lady behind the counter said no, and my eyes were glued to him.

He walked down the bar and proceeded to order a sandwich. The person making sandwiches was new, so it took a while. The whole time, he kept looking around, and in general making me nervous because he looked nervous.

He got to where he had to pay, and he made a show of feeling around in pockets and looking through his wallet and all that, then he said that he had forgotten his money. The lady at the register just looked at him and said, "Sorry." The young man just stood there. He wasn't leaving, and the lady wasn't giving him the sandwich for free. I watched, angry at the guy for doing what he was doing, thinking he was the world's biggest douchebag.

Finally a gentleman in overalls stepped in and paid for the sandwich. The "wormy" guy expressed his concern at paying the Samaritan back, and I thought it was a well put on show. I was incensed that this guy would do that, and I felt bad for the guy he was taking advantage of. At this point I was seriously considering saying something, but I held back. The Missus and I were finishing up, and we headed out the door behind the young man and his sandwich.

We weren't two steps outside when the guy drops to his knees and starts eating the sandwich right there on the sidewalk. He wasn't voracious about it, he just ate like maybe he hadn't in a while. Then I see his transportation, which was a hot pink bicycle. Obviously not something he'd choose on his own.

In that instant, something tore loose in my heart. The suspicion was gone, even though the whole thing may have been an act. I'll never know if it was, but I just don't think that's what was happening. I started to wonder of maybe this was the only way he knew how to get food. Then I started thinking about the blessing I was missing by not offering to help him out. I asked myself what I could do to make his situation better from here.

Instead of doing anything, I drove away.

I'll never get the chance to apologize. I have to live with that.

My challenge to you is that you don't let yourself get so caught up in being better than someone that you forget to be a decent human being. I can only hope you do that better than me. We're all people. We should all get that first chance. Some of us are even lucky enough to have gotten a second. Remember that.


  1. So right!
    What a cool story.
    Don't judge a book by its cover. Thanks for the thought! I will remember...

  2. What a dilema. I live just outside a city and there are regulars that have their corners and pan handle. I give a dollar or two to some of them now and then.. I figure if they are willing to swallow their pride to beg they must truly need it.

    There is one couple we see all the time and something makes me think they aren't what they appear. They have a car [don't you need an address for a car]? They always have cigarettes and nice-ish sneakers.. I can't bring myself to give them anything.

    I read a while back about a "homeless" man in NYC that made over 70K a year panhandling..thats tax free and using the hearts of people to get it...

    Sometimes you have to go with your gut..

  3. First stop kicking yourself we are all guilty of it. Now here is the catch and I know you will get this.. as Christians we are supposed to be he hand out anyway. Because even if they are doing it dishonestly our ability to bless them despite what our 'flesh' tells us about them. When we give that way we know that God will reward our obedience. Listen to Him instead of our flesh.He will warn you when they are the 'wormy' kind.

  4. There was a guy who "lived" outside the Burger King next to an office building where I worked. I would give him food when given the chance, but my friends would get mad at me. "Don't feed him! Can't he go somewhere else to beg?" I know I may have been naive, but I didn't care. He was hungry; I fed him.

  5. Sometimes a scum can be in a mansion while a homeless person can actually be the hard worker with integrity too.

    I would not have judged the guy. However, I don't believe we as a society make a society better by giving someone something without letting them earn it first.

    I actually have more of a problem with the deceit than a problem with a person who would have come up to me and told me they needed a helping hand.

    I'm only curious why you chose the title you did for this post.

    I read every word of it.

    Just like the way I've anonymously helped people who actually needed it before and how I got taken advantage of by a very wealthy asshole until I was left homeless.

    I sure don't see that wealthy asshole lending me a helping hand while "parading in front of cameras" pretending to be the most giving person anybody has ever met.

    Word to the wise.

    Trust nothing your eyes see and half of what you hear.

  6. Don't beat yourself up dude. I totally did the same thing the other day. It was rainy really hard and some guy was hitchhiking. I had the thought I should stop and help since it was raining, but didn't because he looked like a serial killer.
    I felt bad afterwards.

    But atleast I was alive.

  7. It's so hard to fight that battle in our brains. On the one hand we want to help, on the other we know that society as a whole is looking down on that person and we so badly want to conform. I have been guilty of it myself.

    You'll remember this the next time though, won't you?

  8. I work in the downtown area of my city about a block to the bus hub. Being a small state, we only have 2 real bus "hub" for our county. I was at lunch and walked to the banking district to get some food and while in line I listened to men in $300+ suits complaining about how much they've had to cut back and how much money they've lost and how difficult the economy is making their life. On my walk back to the office I pass the public library, directly across the street from the Square (bus hub). A group of homeless men were on the steps of the library praying and thanking their God for the blessings they've been given in their life.

    Brought my whole day into perspective.

    That said, thanks for sharing this. A lot of people are not capable of recognizing this about themselves and it's important for us all to do it. :-)

  9. You shouldn't blame yourself. I think we men are hardwired with the protective instinct and sometimes it clouds our judgment and sometimes it's exactly what we need to protect ourselves and those we love.

  10. The great thing about life, Travis, is there's always a tomorrow. There's always a second chance.

    You have a wonderful heart, that's what's most important. If you didn't, then you wouldn't feel guilt. :)

  11. Well, I read it.

    I commend you for sharing this and for taking the time to consider the man at all.

    I work in a field where I see a lot of shifty, wormy people who make their living scamming people and pretending to be in need rather than accepting the help they are offered.

    It has definitely opened my eyes and made me leary of the wormy guys of the world.

    I still try to help people out when I can, but when my gut tells me it's shady, I go with my gut.

    Damn cynicism.


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