awkward excuses

The other day I was off to a dinner at a swanky place downtown. I was running a little late and not feeling so great about my outfit choice.
At the red light I was checking the makeup (or lack there of) in the vanity mirror when I saw a hunched figure in the background.
She was on the side of the road digging through one of the many plastic bags she carried.
Which probably held everything she owned.
She wore a Cowboys jersey and an old worn coat. Her face looked weathered but I tried not to look and to keep driving.
So I hit the gas instead of the blinker when the light turned green.
As I drove past the next two side streets I kept thinking that I should turn around. Run through a drive through for her or offer her some money.
But I kept going straight.
And not really because I was short on time and cash (which I was), but because I was afraid.
Afraid of what to say.
Afraid of her response.
Afraid that she would want more from me than my small bills would be able to provide.
Afraid of the awkwardness that these situations are filled with.

Eventually, a few blocks later, I finally turned around.
And went back.
And I rolled down my window and asked her how I could help.
She looked surprised and mostly didn’t want my help. She looked hard at the concrete and mumbled something about some cash.
Which I handed over, even though it meant that I’d have to borrow money to cover my dinner tab. And I am not niave enough to think she was necessarily going to be spending it on food.
She then said, “God Bless You” which is what homeless people always say when you give them money or food or even just look them in the eye and smile at them like they are a real person.

As I drove off to my swanky dinner I didn’t wonder what she spent my cash on.
That isn’t my business.
My business is to give.
But was caught up on how much I wanted to keep driving.
How I always want to keep driving.
This weird irrational fear that creeps in before doing something good.
How often I let that fear of not knowing what to say,
or being afraid of offending, get in the way of helping someone.


brickmomma said...

This is good, M.

Corinne said...

I almost never stop.
And I hate that...
Thank you for this.

Beth (and Eric) said...


Beth (and Eric) said...

I remember when my Dad moved to Washington DC, back when I was about 12 or 13. We always passed homeless people. Some were absolutely terrifying. Others were terrified. And then one day, we went into McDonald's and got extra food for one of the men. He got mad at us. That put me off for a while, until I grew up! Then, I realized that if I'm homeless, I might want some booze too! You gave. All that truly matters.

Alyssa said...

Your posts make me want to be brave. Your courageous stops are inspirations to me.

Margie said...

"My business is to give."

Love that line. And know it's true.