What Would You Do?

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I’m participating in the Kindness Challenge hosted by Niki at The Richness of a Simple Life.  I’m a tad late with my Week Three post because we’d been out of town for the long weekend and just got back.

Yesterday we were on our way back from Tennessee and had stopped at a rest area in the middle of nowhere in downstate Illinois.   I was driving and waited in the car while hubby and our son went inside to use the facilities.

I turned to lower the driver’s window and was startled as I came face to face with a young, thin woman standing by my car, apologizing for bothering me.   I rolled down my window and she looked very embarrassed but earnest as she began to tell me her story.

Her brother had picked her and her baby up because they had to leave Arkansas for some reason and was driving them to family in Detroit.  His debit card came up non sufficient funds when he tried to use it at the last gas station.  He called his work and found that his check could not be deposited until Friday and his boss could not do anything to help.

The woman said they talked to the police but they couldn’t help either.  Finally I said as gently as I could, “Are you asking me for money?”

“Yes, ma’am,” she said, ducking her head.  “You must think I’m a crazy person.”  I smiled and assured her I did not, dug in my purse and gave her some money.  I wished her good luck, she thanked me profusely and walked toward a couple sitting on a picnic bench, I assume to ask again.

Now, I could see there was a stroller in her car and a young man was driving and I had decided in a split second to give her money even though I wasn’t sure if I was being scammed.  But how could I take a chance that she wasn’t legitimate?

I’ve been focusing on kindness challenges for several weeks now.  I think I’m normally a pretty kind person anyway, but last week we were asked to radiate kindness to everyone around us.  Would I have been happier to buy food or diapers or put gas in their car rather than give them cash?  Yes.  But we were just making a quick stop and needed to get back on the road to finish our drive.

Of course, it would be a great place to run a scam for that very reason.  There was no gas station or restaurant or store nearby to purchase anything for them so I had to just refuse or give them money.  And I admit it, she looked like a distraught young mom, too thin, bad teeth that just needed straightening, not in a meth head kind of way, and I felt sorry for her.

I decided when I gave her the money I wouldn’t regret it.  It was money I’m grateful I could spare and happy to use to gift someone in need.   I’m hopeful she didn’t blow it on drugs or even cigarettes or beer.  What would you have done if someone approached you like that?

~ Diane D.

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94 responses

  1. Diane, I don’t think that you can ever go wrong if you follow where your heart leads you. I hope you will consider sharing some of your writing at the Salon today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thanks, Bernadette. I will!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m afraid that I’m a little more cynical, and probably wouldn’t have helped her… it’s difficult though – you have to make a snap judgement on the basis of the person in front of you.

    I just hope that, were I ever to genuinely break down, I would come across a “you” rather than a “me”, for help!

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    1. I felt like it was probably a scam but yeah, something about her got to me. If she was a con, she was a damn good actress cause she just radiated embarrassment…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I wouldn’t second guess it. Someone reached out to you. You helped them. The world needs more of that 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. That’s a good question Diane. Like you, I probably would have been skeptical but I think I probably would have given her something. Last week I found $40 cash behind a car in a shopping centre. There was a woman sitting in the car and I went up to her window and asked her if she’d dropped it. She said yes.

    I still don’t know for sure if it was hers even though she said it was but I wouldn’t have felt right pocketing it. We never really know for sure do we, but it feels right to do the kinder thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I felt that way, too. I go with my gut usually!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do it all the time. I’m a magnet for people asking for help. I must either look compassionate…or like a total sap, but I just can’t say no, regardless of their intent. 😃

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    1. Glad I’m not the only one! I was happy with my decision…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d have helped too. If I have it to spare, I’d rather be kind than right.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oooooh I like that! Yes, better to be kind. As the saying goes, “Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time.” 😉

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      1. My thoughts exactly!

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    2. Yep, exactly. And I’ll never know but I feel like if someone can bring themselves to ask they need it more than I do…

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  6. I hope you enjoyed your trip 🙂

    In the past I’ve been terrible about this. I often choose to give food or something of need vs money. My husband will hand over money in a heartbeat. I’m training myself to remember that it’s the intention not what we give that matters. I think you made the right choice. What she chooses to do with the money doesn’t matter much because you gave it to her from your heart. In the end, you’ll never know if you were scammed or if that made the difference between her going hungry or getting home. Either way, relish in the feeling of having done something kind and generous not because you had to but because you chose to. Giving without any expectation is so powerful. Thank you for sharing this story 🙂

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    1. Thanks, I had to make a quick decision and decided no matter what, I was okay with my choice. When hubby got back to the car and I told him, he agreed with me, so all is good!

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      1. That’s a good way to look at it! I’m so glad that he agreed! That must have been a wonderful confirmation that you made a good choice. 🙂

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      2. Yes, and we’re always in tune on the big stuff. Whenever we disagree it’s always over something stupid 🙂

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      3. I know how that is. That’s a great thing to be able to say though 🙂 I hope this week treats you kindly! 🙂

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  7. First of all, kudos to you Diane for choosing kindness over (possibly reasonable) doubt. It shows what a true heart you really have.

    This brought to mind an incident that happened to us in the Church parking lot last week. Two (perfectly healthy and able) young men were canvassing church patrons who were waiting in their respective cars for parking spots. We didn’t realize at first that they were working together because they were each working one side of the parking lot and it wasn’t until they were walking away after collecting the money from multiple people that we realized they were together.

    Incidents like this really break my heart. Not only does it prey on genuine kindness but it also makes people cynical to the point that the next time a person in true need approaches us, we may think twice before lending a hand. With Ramadan (Muslim holy month of prayer, fasting and charity) just around the corner, these incidents of ‘fake’ begging are bound to multiply here.

    Personally, if the person asking is elderly or clearly unable to work and support themselves I will help out. But I am sorry to say that the next time a young, able bodied man approaches me, I may offer goods rather than money to be on the safe side. At the end of the day, even if I am scammed, I like to think that they still need the money more than I do 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly, and it does make one feel cynical. I hope to always keep that helping spirit, but some people do make it difficult!

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      1. Good for you Diane! Let’s hope we can both hold on to that helping spirit 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I always end up giving money because I don’t want to refuse that one legit person because of all the scams happening around. I’m always plagued by the thought “what if the person I refused to help is the one legit who really needed help!”
    So I would say you did the right thing helping her. We can only hope that the money we spare is put to good use!

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    1. Exactly, don’t want to fund someone’s drug habit, but I couldn’t bear to think she was running from something with her baby and I didn’t help…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Living in New York you see all the scams. I like your, always search for a grocery store or deli to purchase food/coffee. In your situation, depending on the sincerity of her face and my gut feelings, I probably would have given her the money.

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    1. It was the perfect place to run a scam cause there was nothing there, but I figured either way she probably needed it more than me, right?

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      1. Exactly. You did the right thing. If it was a scam, it could possibly have saved someone else from being robbed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ooh, I didn’t even think of that!

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      3. Feel good about what you did. Like you say, they needed it more than you.

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  10. robjodiefilogomo | Reply

    Even if it was a scam, I feel like I gave in good faith and that’s the best I can do! Good for you!
    jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, that’s how I felt!

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  11. Always a difficult decision to make…..You are more than likely to have done the ‘right’ thing….. Hugs! ❤

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  12. I am a terribly cynical (unemployed) bitch… And I doubt I would have even opened the window for fear that she may have a weapon or something. I know… I’m totally paranoid. But… I am also broke… And cannot spare anything even if it was a sincere request…

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    1. Well, there have been times when I haven’t been able to help someone either. Now I am so I do. But I understand what you’re saying 🙂

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      1. Yeah… that I’m totally paranoid. I don’t think I was as bad before I had kids! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True, but there were lots of cars and people around so I didn’t feel threatened…

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      3. That helps! You should see me when I’m home alone or just with the kids and the doorbell unexpectedly rings! I peek through the blinds to see who it is… And if it’s not a delivery or someone I know, I hide away from all windows and wait for the “potential intruder” to give up and leave!

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      4. Well, with young kids at home or even just you, it’s sensible to be cautious these days!

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  13. IDK if you’re religious but I think it says in the bible, “Who so ever does it for the least of man, does it for me <3" I would've done it. Scam or not…Blessings ❤ D

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  14. I’m with you Diane — when I’m approached by someone, I give. But I’m kind of doing it for selfish reasons, because I learned it felt a whole lot better to give to someone, even a few bucks, than to refuse them.
    Following up on Scarlett79’s passage, there’s another verse: “Give to all who beg.” Pretty hard to waffle on that one. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I feel glad that I’m able to help. And I’m trying to radiate kindness 😉

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    2. C. J. Hartwell, I’m very curious about the origin of “Give to all who beg.” I am not aware of a Bible scripture like that in any version. If it is there, it would help me make decisions sometimes. In regard to this string regarding the writer who gave, I am most comfortable with giving rather than withholding although I believe it is a scam; however, I seldom stop or give to beggers in urban settings. I have stopped to offer a chance to work a few hours at $20 per hour but I’ve never been taken up on that offer.

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      1. Sorry, my wording was a bit off. The version I have is New Revised Standard. It says, “Give to everyone who begs from you.” I think the NIV uses ‘asks’ instead of ‘begs.” (Shame we don’t know the original Greek, eh?)
        I have to admit, I don’t give in every situation. There’s an increasing problem where I live of people standing in the median or at corners of busy intersections, holding signs. I’ve seen cars drive by and money fly out the window, then cars have to stop as the person ran out to pick up the money. So far I’ve not heard of anyone injured or killed, but I worry it’s just a matter of time.

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      2. Your wording is really not that far off. Interesting distinction in “beg” and “ask.” I’m putting that on my “thinking” list. As I said, it might demand a change in my behavior sometimes! It is right there in the sermon on the mount – a passage of scripture that I believe relates to our everyday living. As you said, it is hard to argue with. And believe it or not, I even have the passage marked in my Bible! I guess it was something I thought I paid attention to. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. King James also uses “asketh.” All in all I guess if we have it and someone asks we share it. If a mistake is made, it will not be chalked up to us in that case. That seems to be the attitude of all the find readers and commenters on this subject. Thanks C. J.

        Liked by 2 people

  15. A thought-provoking post and question, Diane. As a person who stands out in any crowd as the soft touch, I have always attracted people who asked for money or help. A long time ago, I realized that I have no wish to sit in judgement of others. I began putting the dollars and change that I could afford to give away in my pocket before I visited a city. I continued to give until it was gone, grateful that I had the privilege to share. What people did with it was their business and karma. My business was to share the extra life had given me with gratitude, respect and kindness.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Many times I feel like a soft touch, too, but in a good way of connecting with others. I think your last sentence sums things up perfectly. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m sooooooooo glad you wrote this! Think I might, too. I had a weird experience lately…

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    1. You should write yours. I’ll look for it!

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      1. I’ll try to do it today. It’s opposite of yours.

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      2. Can I reblog your’s?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sorry for being so indecisive! Ha! Can’t make up my mind. It’ll be a surprise I guess. 🙂

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      4. It’s funny because I was answering your question on your comments on What Would You Do and my answer got longer, and longer, and loooooooonger. Decided then it must be meant for a post! Ha!

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Actually, I think I’ll link it, if that’s ok. 🙂

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  18. I give what I can give and leave it at that. What she does with it, scam or not is not my business. I would have done what you did. It’s not in my position to judge.

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  19. I think you did the right thing. Maybe it WAS a scam. Maybe not. But…I couldn’t have allowed the “What if?” to remain on my mind.

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    1. Yep, that’s how I felt!

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  20. I am so glad you posted this. It has been interesting reading all the different view points.

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    1. Thanks, it is interesting to see what people think. And, of course, it depends on reading the person who is asking for money, too…

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  21. We made the decision when we were yet still teens. That we would meet the need if we were able (no cash: that is a result of my childhood with drug & alcohol addicts) and leave the rest to God.

    If hungry, we feed them. If need gas, we fill their tank. Etc.

    “You can never go wrong doing the right thing” someone smarter than me

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  22. This is an awesome post! Giving and not regretting and passing on kindness! If it was a scam you still performed a beautiful act from your heart, maybe that alone will impact that young woman! Xx

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    1. I had to take the chance and try to help. Thanks, Lynn!

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      1. That is admirable and all you can do, but very cool! I don’t know if I would have so I love that you did!

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  23. I loved Dr. Meg’s response. “I’d rather be kind than right”. You just never know, but if you hadn’t helped it would probably be weighing on you.

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    1. Yeah, I would have regretted it. 🙂

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  24. […] called “What Would You Do?” and it caught my eye. (You can read it here if you […]

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  25. The problem is that I live in New York, so there are too many people in too close proximity who may be in desperate need or may just be begging because they can earn more than they would at a “traditional job.” So now I tend to apologize and say, “I’m sorry, I never carry cash” (which I rarely do anyway). But every once in awhile, I give small amounts & console myself that even if the person did just go out & buy beer, at least I hope that beer gives them a little bit of temporary happiness.

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    1. It’s a dilemma, for sure, and I think each case would be different. I used to work in downtown Chicago and it was the same thing, lots of people looking for a handout…

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      1. Usually, the worst off people I see here are the ones who are not only not asking for help, but may react poorly if any is offered. For example, there is one woman in my neighborhood who goes in & out of mental institutions between camping out on the sidewalk, and really could only be helped by a professional (although she clearly has often rejected their help as well). The most annoying beggar I saw was a very attractive 20-something camped out by a hot dog truck in Midtown. I was in the area for about 20 minutes and saw three different male office workers offer to buy her food and tell her she should be a model. It’s not that she couldn’t have been down on her luck, but she definitely knew what she was doing!

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      2. Yeah, what a testament to the times when someone young and capable would choose to look for handouts rather than help herself!

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      3. Again, I don’t know her circumstances, but I am sure some of the less attractive beggars in the area could have used a hot dog as well! (Although I should not talk, I am most likely to give to people with dogs because I am just a sucker for the furry beasts:-)

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  26. I have never begged, Diane. I have received very nice and generous “anonymous” gifts. For those who did give to us, during my years of being a simple living, no govt or welfare taking- family, I will always give back. ❤ I was blessed with money to take my 3 children to a water park, found inside my screen door. A church I attended gave me enough money collected which I didn't know they knew about our engine block cracking, I was able to get a junkyard engine and someone who didn't charge me much to be our station wagon's mechanic. I give usually only $5 or $10 since I still like to have money to pay for grandies at matinee movies. 🙂 You did the right thing, what you felt compelled to do. I am thanking you for your generous spirit, Diane. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Robin. There were times when we didn’t have extra to give, but yeah, somehow things always worked out. I couldn’t not do it, simple as that…

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  27. Under the circumstances you (so aptly) described, I too would have given her whatever cash I could spare. I think I would’ve also asked if she needed any other help. It seems like a silly question (situation notwithstanding), but we never know when someone will ask for a drink of water, soda or prayer too. That’s happened more than once in my life and each time I share and/or stop whatever I’m doing and prayed with the person/people. I think in life it’s most important to listen to the Still, Small Voice inside us all. Good call and good post, Diane. ❤

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    1. Thanks, I was comfortable with my decision.

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  28. There is a lot of this where we live. Many come here because of the warmer weather and many fo not have, not want regular jobs. I have given and I have not. Was I scammed? Perhaps. I do what my soul whipsers to me at the moment. The gift is really not just for the person eho is receiving your kindness. It is for the flourishing of your own generosity ad well. It really is about putting love into the universe.

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    1. Yes, exactly. I feel the same way, you have to do what feels right…And giving is so much more rewarding than receiving!

      Liked by 1 person

  29. What I think is really cool is that you gave the gift freely and with great caring. Good for you. Sending blessings your way, and to all those you touch by kindness 🎀 Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for such lovely words and for your visit, too. I feel like being kind is just something ingrained in me, costs me nothing and brings such wonderful people like you into my life!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw thanks! 🙂 By the way, I love the name of your blog. Very unique and makes me smile.

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      2. Thanks, I’ve been lucky enough not to have to work for awhile now so it’s my tongue in cheek way of being grateful for my lunches with my girlfriends!

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