Panhandlers and Compassion

Last week I was waiting behind a large white van at a stoplight at a busy intersection in London. On the median between lanes stood a man with a sign that read “Out of work, hungry, please help”.

The man in the van called to get his attention and handed him what I saw to be a $20 bill. You’d at first expect the man with the sign to give a quick “thank you” then move back to the center of the median. But the reaction recieved wasn’t just one of thanks. The man carefully took the bill in awe, brought it to his lips and kissed it, kept looking at the giver’s face with tearing eyes and was beyond words. The gratitude in his face was unmistakeable.

The man in the van kept talking to him, well into the green light. What he talked about I’m not sure, but it took a few mins and the man on the median never stopped looking thankful.

I’m not sure what the man on the median’s story is. I’m not sure what he did with the money. What i know is one man did something nice, whether spontaneously out of the goodness of his heart or for some other reason, and another man was brought to tears with thanks.

Why does this not happen more often?

 

11 Comments

  1. Greg
    June 10, 2011

    Nice post. I’m glad you had a chance to experience it and enjoy it for what it was – a special moment.

  2. thatguyinlondon
    June 11, 2011

    Nice read. Thanks. 

    I have been on both ends of similar situations. Any change we want in our society begins with us and us along. In Twitter parlance, we should be trending random acts of kindness in real life. Others will RT and Fav said acts and the trend will gain more followers.

  3. Anonymous
    June 11, 2011

    The issue with posting random acts of kindness that you did yourself is that it becomes a self-promo thing. These should not be something you post to the world. I am great with others noticing and posting (aka this blog post), but when it becomes a self-posted act, then its becomes all about the poster and not the act. 

  4. Steve Sargeant
    June 12, 2011

    I saw something similar happen last week on the subway in Toronto.  A guy walked onto the car looking for money to help him get onto a bus back home.  A woman that just got on the subway car looked into her purse and handed the guy a $20 bill, he was a bit thankful, but could have extended his thanks bit more… I know I would if I was actually in need.  Especially since I got off the subway behind him and watched him get onto the subway car headed the other way, away from the bus station.

    Not all generosities are given to people in dire needs, and that’s something that should be stopped.  If you’re in need, then by all means ask and accept; but if not then do not ruin things further for others who truly need the assistance.

    People like this are why I do not give change/money to people asking on the streets.  My money is much better used when donated to charities (red cross, salvation army, food bank, etc); which is done every few months.

  5. thatguyinlondon
    June 12, 2011

    As we tweeted, posting other’s acts of random kindness, as you are doing here, not our own, is the ticket. I guess we all now have the place (here), all we have to do is post them. 🙂

    I had the idea of doing the opposite back when I fancied starting a local webpaper. Mine was to be Asshole Alert!! People could post acts of stupidity or other assholinesses. (I saw a person with 2 kids in the car talking on a cell phone while trying to pull out into busy traffic)

    I like your concept  better. Much more upbeat.

  6. thatguyinlondon
    June 13, 2011

    Steve: Do some research on the salaries of the CEO’s of “charitable” organizations. I’d rather make the error and lose a few bucks to a scammer now and then, than help pay for a CEO’s beach house.

  7. Anonymous
    June 14, 2011

    That is the unfortunate part of trusting larger NFPs. You never know what happens with donations. 

  8. Anonymous
    June 14, 2011

    That is the unfortunate part of trusting larger NFPs. You never know what happens with donations. 

  9. Anonymous
    June 14, 2011

    That is the unfortunate part of trusting larger NFPs. You never know what happens with donations. 

  10. Anonymous
    June 14, 2011

    Agreed. Its hard to know where your generosity could end up. There are those old stories of street beggers going home at the end of the day in their porche. Its never black and white, but still real people need help.

  11. Anonymous
    June 14, 2011

    Agreed. Its hard to know where your generosity could end up. There are those old stories of street beggers going home at the end of the day in their porche. Its never black and white, but still real people need help.

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