Friday, May 16, 2008

The right thing

Yesterday, I walked out of the salon and noticed an older gentleman in the parking lot. He didn't look dangerous or scary to me.

I'm guessing he was in his 70's. Clean cut with a nice, "grandpa" look. (I'm a softie for cute little grandpas).He was wearing jeans, a light blue wind-breaker jacket and a baseball cap with a white flag/sticker tucked in the top. His clean-cut look, age and hat made me think he was maybe a veteran handing out poppies for a donation.

As I walked to my Jeep, I noticed him in the corner of my eye more. He was now following me. No big deal, I thought, as the parking lot is only 1 row of cars. The man walked behind me as I beeped the Jeep unlocked. He didn't say a word. He just handed me a pen and smiled. I looked at the pen and it had a tag on it noting he is deaf and asking for a donation.

I dug into my jeans pocket, knowing it's contents: a $5 bill, 4 $1 bills, a Mega millions lottery ticket and my new Bonnie Bell Lipsmacker (strawberry slush) I received in my Ohio basket from the WVIZ auction. I knew all these because I had just bought the lottery ticket 30 minutes before. And I never, ever travel without a Lipsmacker in my right pocket.
As I went through my pocket, I made sure I was going to grab just a $1 bill. And I knew how to do that without looking, as I was taught to always organize my bills the same way. I have my Dad and a former boss/family friend to thank for that.

I gave the man a dollar. He smiled and nodded and walked away with me holding my new pen.
Once I was in my Jeep, I watched for him because I had to back-up. God forbid I run over a poor, old grandpa who is deaf and selling pens for a living. But he was gone. He must have seen another person that needed a pen.

As I drove home, I had mixed emotions. Was that legitimate? Was he really deaf? Was I just scammed for a dollar? I did get a pen for it, though.

But what if it is really true? How can a clean cut, nicely dressed grandpa in Cleveland make a living selling pens? I admit, his age, looks and politeness will sell loads of pens. I only gave him a dollar. No harm there. But if he really is living off donations, why isn't the "system" working for him? Does he need the money to live? Or maybe for his prescriptions? Who knows for sure.

All I know is I only gave him a dollar and I had another $8 in my pocket. I'm sure he didn't want my Lipsmacker and with my luck, the lottery ticket is worthless. So why did I just give him a dollar? I prayed for him as I drove home. I hope I did the right thing by at least giving him that.

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