Good Samaritan or Enabler?

Do you give money to people who are begging on the street or in front of a store?

As a general rule I don’t, I do what 99.9% (made up statistic) of the population does, I look the other way and pretend that the person wearing tattered and dirty clothes, shivering in the cold is invisible.

Tuesday night is often Subway sandwich night in my house.  Christian gets the Italian BMT and I get Turkey and provolone, for dessert we treat ourselves to a couple of cookies.  We’re very fortunate. We don’t have to worry about food and although our house may seem chilly at 68 degrees, it’s tropical compared to sleeping outside in the winter.

Last night I parked between Subway and the State Liquor Store and did my best to avoid making eye contact with the man cradling a clock in his hands.

“Miss, can you help out a homeless man?” He said softly.

I heard shame and desperation, but I looked at the ground, shook my head and walked briskly into Subway.

I couldn’t shake the image of him or the sound of his voice.  The thought of ordering him a sandwich came to mind, but I didn’t know what he would like.  In reality he probably would have eaten just about anything.

Seven dollars wasn’t enough to pay for my sandwiches but I took it out of my wallet anyway.  I folded the bills in my hand and it occurred to me that I wasn’t holding seven dollars, it was a meal and a 45 minute break from the cold.  It didn’t escape me that it might also be a cheap bottle of wine.

He accepted the money with a cold and calloused hand, “Bless you for helping me, bless you.”  I looked up from my car just in time to see him enter the sandwich shop.

I don’t know what prompted me to give him the money but it felt right and I’m glad I did.

Is giving money to a homeless person being a good Samaritan or an enabler?  It might be both.