Yesterday I almost crossed the street to avoid a small child who was selling lemonade. I didn’t actually cross the street, but I did quickly say no when he started to ask me if I would like to purchase a beverage. And then as I continued walking I started to wonder what my problem was. I probably should have given this young entrepreneur 50 cents and a boost of confidence, even though I wasn’t thirsty. Now he’s probably going to end up living in his mother’s basement for the rest of his life.
But I’d argue it’s not my fault. I blame the guy who sells StreetWise outside my neighborhood CVS, the three to four veterans asking for donations at the train station, the Greenpeace people asking me if I want to save the environment outside my office, the panhandlers asking for spare change on every corner… Everywhere I go strangers are asking me for money. I know this makes me a terrible person, but I’ve resolved to ignore them all. I know I could pick one to help out, but I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume of requests. And I don’t like talking to strangers.
So I walk briskly and keep my head down. And if I accidentally make eye contact I immediately start shaking my head if it looks like the person is going to speak. Even if that person is a lost tourist, or a small child… So this is my defense for when I end up on one of those hidden camera shows about bad Samaritans – or in hell.