There is this guy who sits on random corners of my neighborhood and begs for money in a paper cup. He looks about twenty-something. Nice clothes, hipster looking. Rude as the sky is blue. I just figure he’s under a lot of stress. I can relate. If it weren’t for my mother, I’d probably be in the same boat as him. Maybe. If I was desperate enough, I honestly can’t see myself choosing to rely on the “kindness” of strangers rather than taking any minimum wage job I could find. But that’s just me.
I rarely have any cash on me. When I do, it’s usually when I have to run to the store real quick or something. As I was passing by that guy on the street one day, I was on the phone. I saw him waving his cup in the air at the woman in front of me and asking her for money. She gave him fifty cents. He cussed her out and called her cheap. Beggars can’t be choosy, now can they? I pass by, without giving him a cent and he calls me a bitch. Feisty one, he is!
At first I felt bad. As much as I dislike his attitude, I started to think about how hard he might have it. My neighborhood has seen an influx of “hipsters” within the past ten years. Some come here with their trust funds while others just want to “make it” in New York and all they come here with are their ratty clothes and a dream……to get wasted at a party in Bushwick. So I was pretty 50/50 on my pity for this guy, and with no gratitude shown whatsoever to the people who did give him money, needless to say, I was skeptical. I shrugged it off, like we all do here in the Big Apple and walked away, leaving him to wallow in his self-pity and arrogance. Maybe that makes me a terrible person. Maybe God was judging me for it. All I know is that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
A few days later I saw that guy again, hanging out by the subway with that cup in his hand. Some guy totally ignored him, so naturally he shoves his middle finger up in the air. As I’m getting closer to where he is standing, I say to myself “if he gives me an attitude, I just might give him a reality check.” Sure enough, he calls me a bitch again. I turn around and say “maybe you should go find a job instead of bringing people down to your level of misery!” I told him that we’re all struggling. You have to keep fighting and working for what you want or the filthy sidewalk will be your permanent view for the rest of your life. I can’t believe I said that to him, but I did. As for his response? “Bitch!” I guess not all of us have such a wide vocabulary.
So I guess the moral of the story here is: be kind. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but be kind while doing it. Work hard. Having the mentality that the world owes you something isn’t going to get you anywhere. Also, say thank you. A lot.