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Friday, December 5, 2008

Charity Guilt

I just got back from Walmart. While loading my stuff into my car a girl who looked to be in her early 20's came over and said that she had to drive down here from American Fork to pick up a prescription, and now was out of gas. She said she needed $12 to get home. For some reason I think I am the perfect target for people on this kind of thing. I have yet to go a year where at Christmas time someone approaches me in a parking lot and gives me the same kind of story. The problem I have is that for some reason I lack the ability to lie to someone face to face. Sometimes I think that is a good thing, but in cases like this I feel that it leaves me vulnerable. I rarely carry cash and so I always say I'll check but I'm not sure if I have anything, always hoping that I will open my wallet and see it empty. For some reason, they always catch me on the rare occasion that I do have cash. So when I opened my wallet today and saw a $10 bill I gave it to her. She did ask for my phone number so that she could try and pay me back, but if it is a scam the last thing I want her to have is my phone number. So I just told her Merry Christmas.

The problem is that as soon as I got in my car, that is when I start replaying it in my mind. $12 to get back to American Fork? Pretty sure you could get there on $2 in gas. I then noticed that the first thing she did was go back to her truck and call someone. She didn't really seemed stressed or bothered the way I would be if I was in that situation. And she didn't seem in any hurry to leave. I drove away slowly watching her and I had the feeling she was waiting for me to leave and then was going to go ask someone else the same thing.

Two years ago I had the same type of situation in Provo. I actually really did believe the guy until I saw him approach someone else even after I have given him more than enough money to get where he said he was going. I watched several episodes of Intervention where drug addicts have used the same type of story on people to get drug money. So maybe now I'm just jaded. Although not enough that I feel I can say no to someone in person. So do I feel jipped that they talked me out of $10 or do I just figure that no matter what the reason was, they needed the money more than I do.

7 comments:

The Stratfords said...

Kari... I just got a chance to look at your blog for the first time in a long time. Um, Pat - what to say?... I'm sorry. Good Luck. Thanks for being open about it. Keep us posted. I'm sure it is better for you to just talk about it. Let me know if you need anything. AND I miss talking to you Kari. You are so easy to talk with. Give me a call soon, or even come visit sometime. It would be so GREAT to see you!

Britta said...

I so do not have that problem. I was in the court system for long enough to recognize a lot of signs for addicts or just plain liars. I just say I don't have cash and walk away, or say, sorry. But I think you'll definitely get karma points - you are a nicer person than I am!

Susie said...

My Dad used to always say to me...the worst thing you could do in giving a beggar money is support their habit, but the best thing you can do is save their life. I would have probably just offered to purchase them a bus ticket or something instead, because I hate giving out money--you never know where it's going to end up. But if someone's hungry or something, I'm the first one to pull into a drive-thru and get them some food...they just won't see a red cent from me is all.

Megan said...

I'm pretty sure this happens to me all the time, too. I need to stop smiling at random people! I'll have to tell you how my mother=in=law feels about people like that when I see you. It's freaking hilarious!!

Andrea said...

You just have to learn to lie. I always just say "Sorry, I don't have any cash." Which is actually almost always true, but even if it wasn't, that is always my reply.

I know, I'm heartless.

weddingsbywoodbury said...

I always get it from the same woman that has been outside the north gates to the Salt Lake Temple for the last three years. Every time Jon and I go up there to shoot a wedding and park on the north side of the road, we walk past her. One time, we forgot a couple of things in the car and I walked past her six times as I went back and forth, and she asked me for change every time. I've gotten to the point that I notice her nice shoes and clean hands even though she's looking about ready to cry. She is here to stay and makes a good living off of people on the happy high after a visit to temple grounds, so I have no guilt in passing her by now. I figure that telling her that I don't have any money is about as honest as her asking for it so that she can "get home". However, I did give a buck to some guy at the Gateway because he looked nice. I don't know why he seemed more worth the pause, but he's asked my husband and a friend of ours for cash, not me, so it didn't bother me to give him $1 even if Jon said that HE didn't have any cash. If they're not in my face I'm better at giving them money. Maybe I’ll ask that girl her name next time and maybe getting to know her will keep her a little more aware so that when she sees ME, she won’t ask. Heck, maybe she’ll start to realize that she sees me too often and maybe she’d better find a new corner to beg from.
I've also always wanted to think ahead enough to have the addresses and phone numbers of half-way houses or shelters where people who are serious about needing assistance would go...maybe a post office where they can have money wired to them from the family they're trying to get back to. Someday I'll be jaded and smart and won't feel guilty, but will feel prepared. If they’re looking for a quick buck for a doobie on the side, they can crumple up the paper and go ahead with their plans. If they’re serious, it’s teaching them how to fish rather than giving them a single meal. Either way, I’m really helping, not enabling.

Shelbot said...

I always say no when people approach me like that. I feel that there are other places they can get help than in the parking lot of a store. I do, however, try really hard to donate to the salvation army collectors at stores. At least then I feel that hopefully the money will be spent well.