Guilt.

As many of you may know, I have a penchant for shopping at ghetto grocery stores. Not because I particularly savor the “American Calcutta” experience, but because I’m rather… Parsimonious.

Aka a cheap bastard.

Plus, from where I work, it’s just easier to get to (and park) at these type of stores.

Most of the time the trip is uneventful. I never have major shopping to do, so it’s always just a quick trip for like a bag or two of grub. No biggie. I get in, get out, get home. No fuss, no muss.

However, yesterday I was approached in the parking lot. For money.

A woman came up to me, introduced herself, and then proceeded to give me her life story in a shaky voice about moving here from Milwaukee, recently burying her deceased daughter, taking care of her granddaughter, getting her disability approval (complete with envelope of paperwork), but how she wouldn’t get any money for 30 days, and could I please go in the store and “bust her some groceries” so she could feed her family and also get her some gas for her car?

I politely told her that I wouldn’t be able to help her out, got in my car, and drove away.

And have felt guilty ever since.

Should I have believed her story? It was pretty elaborate and not the standard “hey, can I get a couple bucks?” routine. But I’ve heard tell of very creative folks who scam lots of money this way, and this has made me rather jaded.

I know she targeted me because of my car and clothes, etc. I’m sure I looked like I had extra money (which I do), and like a nice guy (which evidently I’m not).

Maybe this woman was in dire straights and brought to begging in parking lots out of desperation. Or maybe she needed some extra money for the Casino bus which stops in this very same parking lot.

Even so, I could have just given her a 20 from my wallet and wished her well. 20 bucks isn’t going to break me, and there was the potential that she was telling the truth. Plus I would have banked some good karma, right?

I definitely could have chosen to believe her and helped her out with a little cash. But when the moment arrived, I chose to turn my back instead.

And that decision is still eating me up today.

Why didn’t I just open my wallet? Or my heart? Am I that cold, that… indifferent? Am I “that guy”?

I feel like this was some sort of coamic test and I failed miserably. And now I am wishing I could go back and do things differently, which leaves me feeling empty.

What would you have done?

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About cb

Nickname: Munt Measurements: 45 B, 34, 38(?) Ambition: to be the best human ever! Turn ons: long walks on the beach, romantic dinners, porn, rainbows, cock Turn offs: bad smell face, men who are full of themselves, dead puppies, popcorn, sadness
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14 Responses to Guilt.

  1. Carl says:

    That’s a tough call…if she was straight out asking for money I would have said no. But if she was willing to let you go into the store to buy her groceries, then I might have believed that she might have been telling the truth. But I too have become very jaded to requests like this

  2. justajeepguy says:

    I had the same thing happen yesterday only without the elaborate story. He asked if he could ask a question. I said sorry but I’m running late – which was sorta, kinda the truth.

    Don’t feel guilty. You are a nice guy…your gut was probably correct. If you still feel guilty maybe you give $20 or more to the local food bank where it will definitely be used for groceries. You’ll still be helping but I’m sure $20 in her pocket directly would do here more good that day…if she was being truthful.

  3. Blobby says:

    I’ve had ELABORATE stories where I have given money to folks and unknown to them, they approach me again months later, never changing a word or a pause of their script. I no longer give – and the worst offenders are the ones who have kitten or puppies with them. I HATE them.

  4. I second carl’s take. if she would not go into the store, then run in the opposite direction. wonder if she will be there the next time? and can you switch stores?

  5. truthspew says:

    Well, you’re better than me in that you’re remorseful about it. Me, no remorse whatsoever, totally jaded. Been that way for years. It’s funny in the early 1990’s an incident stand out. We’re with a friend who grew up and lived in Little Compton, RI. Now Little Compton is, how shall I put this, somewhere between suburban and rural.

    We’re in the city one night at a local restaurant and as we’re walking out this guy comes up to us. The first words out of my mouth were “What do you want?” My friend from the country was floored.

    Live in the city long enough and you have to do that.

  6. Zak says:

    Buddha taught that when we give to others, we give without expectation of reward. We give without attaching to either the gift or the recipient. We practice giving to release greed and self-clinging.

    Then, I agree with all previous comments. Giving $ or food to a food bank approaches more to Buddha teaching.

  7. Girl Tuesday says:

    CB, I’ve had this happen to me so many times……… sigh. There is a 20ish yr old kid that hangs outside my local Starbucks with a sign asking for money. He’s always there. One day, I asked him if he was hungry, and he said yes. So, I bought him some pastries and a hot chocolate, and walked out and gave them to him. He was very grateful. Every time I saw him, I’d just buy him stuff, and give it to him on the way out. He’s always grateful, and I feel good about it. I’m not giving him money, but I’m feeding him. I just feel that many beggars are going to take the money and use it for booze or drugs. I would have bought the gal some food in the store, but next time you see someone like her, do that and you won’t feel guilty anymore.

  8. Old Lurker says:

    Totally disagree with Zak. In my opinion that is twisting the intention of the Buddha’s words. Giving with a pure heart is nice, but it is not necessary. I prefer the conceptions of eight levels of giving as described by Maimonides: http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/eightrungs.html

    However, I am in similar situations frequently, and I am almost always “that guy”. So I should not be throwing stones in this glass house.

    If $20 is enough to assuage your guilt then go for it. If $20 (or $10 or $5 or whatever you feel is appropriate) is a suitable reward for an elaborate story then go for it too. The question in my mind is: if you were to run into the same situation at some future point, what would you do?

    (Sorry for the lack of snark in this response.)

  9. Raj says:

    I wouldn’t feel guilty about it. Take it as an opportunity to grow on a better soul (or to create karma). Giving and helping should create positive karma and peace of mind.

  10. I guess I’m jaded and wouldn’t feel guilty myself. I’ve been burned too many times while attempting to “do the right thing”.

    Having said that, I would have probably taken her inside and purchased a few groceries for her.

  11. Brad says:

    Start waving your arms, point at your ears and say. “I am deaf”.

  12. I typically help. But that is just me. And I am sure I have been lied to and scammed tons of times but I would rather give and hope that they are telling the truth because I am sure there will be that one time it truly does make the difference in a person’s life. All the other times don’t matter.

  13. Rick says:

    You summed it up. You’re a cheap bastard.
    I really don’t like panhandlers. But…in some ways I think people wouldn’t ask if they didn’t really need help. How would you have felt if you gave her $20? Would you have been questioning yourself and wondering how she spent it? You know you gotta be a cheerful giver or it’s just null and void. Don’t beat yourself up over this incident. You’ll have more opportunities.

  14. Dave says:

    I’m big time jaded having been taken by folks like this before. Don’t feel guilty. There are other resources your taxes fund where she could seek help.

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