I live in a small city, 75000 or so people. We have two downtown streets essentially, the busier of which about a half dozen homeless or very poor individuals spend their time. On my daily walks to a cafe I inevitably pass a number of these individuals. Occasionally I’ll “spare some changes,” as the one fella often demands as I walk by. I sometimes say in return that I will purchase food or drink for them and all but once they’ve refused.
The guilt gets to me as a go into my cafe with my $500 laptop, purchase a $4 latte, and every now and then a $2 muffin. Worse yet I get asked for change on my way to the bank where I deposit my wad of bills. Should I agree to give out $20s in exchange for never being asked again, leaving my middle class existence subsequently unquestioned and untouched by the needs of the poor? The one instance an individual agreed to have a coffee purchased for him, he re-entered the cafe about 30 minutes later, and again asked me for change. I had to remind him that I just bought him a drink.
Since the weather has turned, giving me warm sunny days, I’ve been riding my bike to the cafe. I can pull up right beside the place, lock up the bike, and forget that I have it so much better than plenty of other folks in this town.