Tuesday, September 8, 2009

To Moralize Or Not To Moralize

So, I run to '7-11' today and outside are not one but TWO homeless people.

One asked if I could spare a dollar. He was very specific--'A DOLLAR'--instead of the usual; 'Do you have any spare change I could have?'.

The other homeless man did not ask for anything nor even look my way.

The one that did was clean, shaved and didn't appear to be dirty.

The other man--the one who didn't approach me--was just the opposite: scruffy beard, dirty body and clothes.

With money being so tight on my end, I hesitated to even acknowledge the man who asked but I simply replied; "I'll catch you on my way out".

I thought about complaining to the sales girl--how nice it would be to walk into any store these days and not be 'accosted'--but I held my tongue.

Next to the cash register was cooked hot dogs for sale; two for $2.22.

I could have just given each of the men a dollar, saved the twenty two cents, and be on my way. But then those age old questions comes into play--at least in my head;

"How responsible is it to give a homeless person money?"

"What will they do with it--drugs? Alcohol? Cigarettes?"

So, I bought them both a hot dog and in each of the cardboard containers the hot dogs came in I placed a packet of ketchup, mayo, relish, mustard and a napkin. I even thought about chips and a drink but...well, money and all--plus the moral dilemma swimming around in my head...

So, I gave them each their hot dog.

Both said 'thank you' and the one who didn't ask for anything even offered up a 'Have a good day'.

I wondered at the oddness of it all on my way home and also wildly wondered if I was perhaps part of an experiment; "The seemingly better dressed--and cleaner--of the two asks the customers for money (a specific amount, no less)...what will be the result? How will the customers react? What about the other man? Will he be acknowledged and rewarded? Or will he be 'punished' for being quiet and not asking? "No food for you 'cause you didn't ask--just as well, saved me a buck..."

Was the one who approached me even homeless? Or just testing society?


The extra twenty two cents was a cheap price to pay for my peace of mind.

Then again, is it my place to moralize??? I figure, well, it's my money so, honestly my answer is yes.

What's your thoughts? What would you have done?


  1. I think you did the right thing. I would have been thinking the same thing too . . .experiment? Either way . .you won out by doing a good deed. :)

  2. You did excellent. You are so thoughtful. I wonder about giving money also. I guess I am a skeptic. It sure is heartbreaking to see so many people homeless now days. I think it is going to get much worse unfortunately. Thankfully there are wonderful people like you in the world. Even in your tight situation you still reached out to help.

  3. All I could think of the entire time reading your story was something my grandma used to quote from the bible, it went something like...be careful how you treat strangers, for you might be entertaining angels unaware.

    I think you did a wonderful thing!

  4. Definitely the right thing to do! If they were truly in need, that must have been such a blessing!

  5. Jo, I'm so proud of you! I've been jaded on giving out anything to panhandlers. I once did the same thing you did only to have the person tell me that they didn't ask for food. They wanted the money. Can you believe that?!

  6. Jo, if you get time then read my post "height of imagination" in the end i have narrated a real life experience, similar to yours.. and you will be surprised with the answer!

    I will try to help them through food, because its the first thing they might buy with the money so better feed them instead..

    you did a gr8 job..

  7. here's the link http://faheimgul.blogspot.com/2009/08/height-of-imagination.html

  8. You did the right thing... I had a similar experience a couple of years ago & you've just inspired me to post about it. I love that you are kind-hearted enough to spend your money on homeless people when times are difficult enough for you already. As they say in Australia, "good on you!"

  9. I would have done the same as you did. I couldn't have ignored the other man just 'coz he didn't ask for help.

  10. Jo, I don't think it matters who the men were or what their status is, or even why they were there at the store. Your random act of kindness is the important part of the story. Humanity needs as many acts of kindness as it can get. Random or not. You not only helped those two men, you helped yourself.

  11. Hi Jo,
    I totally agree with Kyle your random act of kindness is great we do need more of them.

  12. I think you did a great thing. Most people would have totally avoided them even on the way out. You did a good thing.

  13. There seems to be a lot of homeless in certain parts of the city I travel in. It is hard to know if they are alright or not. Once, a homeless guy had a sign that said, "Its my moms birthday and she would like a beer." I happened to have just bought some beer, so I gave him one, the ran across the street and gave it to this old lady sitting under a tree, the mom I supposed. She smiled and waved and yelled thanks to me, so that was nice. I liked your story though, I would have done the same thing too.

  14. I have very vivid memories of a homeless man that always stood at my Mom's exit for work. His sign always asked for money, but at least a few times a week, my Mom would roll down her window and hand him some coffee or a biscuit or hotdog. She'd always think of him when she was getting her morning coffee, or stopping at McDonalds. You did the right thing.