I can’t remember the song or the line, and maybe it was more than one, but I remembered today that at the Bruce Springstein concert my sister Cherry and I recently went to in Greensboro, that I told myself, I would no longer look away from the panhandlers standing at intersections looking for help from passing drivers. This has always been a difficult topic for me. I remember reading an article once that suggested instead of looking away with shame for not knowing what to say, look the person in their eyes and acknowledge their humanity, acknowledge that they are. A friend also told me once that she would always give a dollar when approached by someone looking for help. She said giving away one dollar wouldn’t kill her. I’ve remembered that.
Today at the intersection of Highway 70/401 and Tryon Road, there was a man with a sign hat read, “HOMELESS VET PLEASE HELP.” My normal hesitation was there, and then I relaxed and reached to my purse hoping I did in fact have some dollars. I had two dollars. Like my friend Janet, I thought one or two dollars two or three times a month shouldn’t keep me from being able to pay my bills. If that were the case, it might not be long before I was sharing this gentleman’s corner. Rolling my window down, I leaned out and smiled. He walked over, and we exchanged the same pleasantries I would exchange with anyone.
“How are you ma’am?” he asked.
“I’m fine, how are you?” I answered.
“Good. I went to church on Saturday and Sunday,” he noted.
I said, “Good for you. I didn’t go either day.”
“That’s okay,” he offered. “God forgives you.”
“Thank you,” I smiled gratefully.