Monday, January 29, 2007
My Callousness Causes A Woman To Cry
After reading American Gods again I decided that I needed to learn the rudiments of coin trickery. I bought a book which I studied fastidiously for about two days before I lost interest. Still, though, I carry a pocket full of change in various denominations which I fiddle with when I have time to kill.

On the afternoon in question, I was standing on a somewhat busy street corner waiting for a relative to drop off my daughter while simultaneously attempting (with success, I might add) to turn a Sacajawea dollar into a quarter with the assistance of a fifty cent piece. While attempting the trick for about the fourth time I was approached by a middle aged woman. Her clothes were not shabby, but by no means were they nice.

"Can you spare some change, sir?" she asked. I performed the best trick I know, which is to cause all of my money to disappear rapidly into my pocket.

"No, sorry," I said. It was a stock response. I don't have the time or the inclination to try to separate the scammers and drug addicts from the people in genuine need, and even if I did, I can't help everyone who asks. So as a rule, no one who asks for money on the street gets it.

"Please. I'm not a drunk or anything... " Her voice cracked a bit and her lips were quivering. I started to feel kind of bad. Maybe she really did need help, but again I said no.

Now she began crying in earnest. Tears streamed down her cheeks. "I'm four months pregnant and I gotta buy some food..." She was sobbing loudly. She held out her hands which contained a crumpled dollar bill and some random coins. Less, I noticed, than what I had been playing with earlier.

Now I was embarrassed. Embarrassed because I'd flaunted my money in front of this woman. Embarrassed because she really seemed in need and I'd lumped her in with all the other low-life's who spare change me. Embarrassed because I obviously had money and yet I refused to help her. Now was the time for me to make it right. To say "Sorry, here's a buck." I'd feel good, she'd get some food. But...

I didn't. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable. I just denied her again and walked far enough away so I could no longer hear her crying. I feel like a real dick.