Charity: Blind, but not Dumb

A kid about 19 or 20 comes up to me as I’m leaving the grocery store. I’m pushing a cart with two bags of groceries and an empty cardboard shipping box. He stands in front of me as I reach my car. Skinny, torn tank top, tattooed, gauges in each ear, he’s sweating in the evening heat.

He points to the parking lot and says, “That’s my green truck over there. I’m outta gas. I’m not lying. Can you help me with some change?”

He’s not a poster child for clean-cut charity. He could easily be hitting me up so he can buy booze, drugs, bad-for-you burgers. He steps back, squats down. It’s a calculated move. He’s done this before. Squatting makes it less likely he’ll grab my purse.  And the grocery cart is now between us.

I reach for my wallet. My credit cards are separate, and I don’t have a lot of cash.. Even if he took it all, he couldn’t fill up a truck’s empty gas tank. I hand him a dollar. He takes it. Closer now, he repeats, “I’m not lying.” There is something heartbreaking about this. I know about unemployment, about being discounted, about not knowing where the gas money is coming from.

I smile at him. “Bless you” I say and load my groceries into the trunk.

Each of us is capable of giving someone a blessing. No requirement to be ordained, no need to be minister, shaman or even holy. A blessing is a gift that costs nothing to give.

I’ve had the giving-a-stranger-money discussion often with friends. In my mind,  all I need to have or know is my intention to help. It is not my business to judge, or tell the giver how the money should be used.  After I give, it belongs to the receiver.

In addition to blessing him, I received a blessing of sharing. Not a bad way to end the working day.

—Quinn McDonald believes in paying it forward. And backward and sideways. Times are tough. We all need a blessing.