By: Tom Westerholm
I was walking down the streets of Orlando today when a woman stopped me and asked for some money for food. She was disheveled and dirty, with a cardboard sign hanging around her neck that said “Homeless. Please help.”
I was in a bit of a hurry. I needed to get back to my hotel room and work on an article that needed writing. I needed to Tweet about the game I had just watched. I needed to text my sister and call my mom. In short, I needed to do all of the technological things that make up my life as it is.
So I stopped on the sidewalk and pulled out my wallet.
“All I’ve got is a dollar, I think,” I said, apologetically. And indeed, that was all the cash I had on me. Just a one dollar bill.
“Thank you very much,” she said, as I handed it to her. “I’m just trying to get a meal quick. I’m hungry.”
“Absolutely,” I replied. “Good luck.”
I walked away, but I didn’t feel how you are supposed to feel after giving someone money. I felt like I had held back more than I should have.
Then I realized what I wish I had done. I wish I had taken the woman to the Pita Pit, half a block from where she was standing. I could have bought her a pita. Heck, I could have given her the pita that was in my hand at that moment, gone back and bought myself a second one. I could have sat down with her and we could have eaten our pitas together. I could have asked her about her life story, which would have made these 400ish words considerably more interesting.
But by the time all of these thoughts rushed through my head, I was all the way down the block. I stopped for a minute and debated going back, but a pretty girl was bearing down on me and I would have felt creepy turning around and walking behind her. I swallowed my conscience and continued.
I don’t tell you this story because I think I’m a terrible person, nor am I trying to guilt you into giving every single thing you have to the poor. Indeed, I’m typing this on my nice laptop with my nice Android phone sitting next to me. I like my laptop. I like my phone. I’m keeping them because I need them. This isn’t a guilt trip. It’s just an admission.
I just really wish I had bought the woman a pita.