What do you do when someone approaches you in the Wal-Mart parking lot. They need money to go to Albuquerque or somewhere and have run out of gas and don’t have money? That’s a typical line.
I get annoyed.
I wonder why they’re traveling broke. Do they expect others to finance their trip?
At least when I commuted to work in Houston in 2009, people offered a service. Guys stood in medians, taking donations for bottled water they’d hand out. At one intersection, a guy dashed out and cleaned my windshield before I had time to stop him. I didn’t have any dollar bills to give, but he just waved and went to the next car.
Now I do feel bad when I hear sad stories. But with panhandlers, how do you know who really needs money? Will they buy gas, or beer, or drugs? My friend Debra Vasquez in Abilene, Texas, has a good solution. She buys booklets of McDonald’s gift certificates. When someone says they need money to eat, she gives them one.
On the radio, I heard a minister say he never gives money. He said what people in such situations need is a human touch, and often, someone to hear their story.
I believe in being a Good Samaritan, but not an enabler.