A friend of mine has noticed that there is a homeless gentleman who plants himself next to an ATM machine near her work, so he can beg for money from the people who are getting cash. This has always felt particularly invasive—after all, nobody likes having people in their space when they are withdrawing cash. She always felt like at any second the man could grab her bank card, or the money she was withdrawing. As a result, she stopped using that particular ATM.
But the other day, she was walking by on her lunch break and saw the man sitting there. She didn’t want to encourage his practice of lurking outside the ATM, but there was no denying that he could use some help. When she got a sandwich for her lunch, she impulsively ordered an extra one, plus a banana and a bottle of water. When she passed the man, she extended it out, and he happily took the food, immediately devouring it and thanking her for her kindness. My friend felt great.
I know that sometimes we feel threatened by beggars, or that they are accosting us for money. Maybe you worry that they will just spend the money on drugs or alcohol. But by buying something as simple as a bottle of water or a piece of fruit, you can show some kindness and make their life just a little bit easier. Usually, that costs less than a dollar!
Next time you head to your favorite café for lunch, consider grabbing a little something extra and passing it on. It’s such a civil thing to do!