The other day I was standing in line getting ready to check out at a grocery store when I noticed there was a homeless person checking out behind me. Now I didn't know his circumstances, but by the way he was dressed and the fact that he was just buying a plain loaf of bread with cash, I just got the feeling he was down on his luck.
This same situation happened to me on another occasion with a homeless person checking out behind me. In the moment it was taking place, I was a little uncomfortable. You don't see homeless people too often in settings like this. In my mind I was thinking I should try to help them by paying for their items or giving them money, but on the other hand, I'm not sure if they would get offended by something like this. I'm sure they would appreciate it but at the same time, I would worry that they might take offense to it like I am assuming they can't pay for their own food.
So this second time it happened, the same thought process went through my mind. I wanted to help but because of the uncertainty of how they might react, I decided not to do anything. There were other people around too so I would not want to draw any extra attention in a situation like that.
It got me thinking about charity. I am not a rich person and I do not usually donate to charities too often. I live very frugally and pretty much only spend money on necessities like food and housing. It's odd because even though I don't give money to charities often, I wouldn't mind just giving a $20 bill to one of the homeless guys in a situation like this. And this is from someone who spent less than this on their entire shopping trip.
I think the difference is, if you give money to a charity for example, the Red Cross, you don't see what happens too it. You just assume it will be put to good use somehow. It probably will, but since you don't actually see the effect, it doesn't seem like you are actually helping. On the contrary, if you see someone in real life who obviously could use the money, helping them out makes an immediate difference you can see.
It really puts things into perspective when you see someone who is much less fortunate such as a homeless person. It is easy to get down on yourself and feel like you don't have a lot compared to other people, especially people you see on tv and in the media.
Often I feel like I don't have a lot of money to spend, for example at the store, most of my decisions on what to buy are based on price. There are a lot of things I would like to get, but don’t, just because they are more expensive. Then I see a guy who is less fortunate just buying a couple basic items and all of a sudden I feel guilty as though I have too much money because I can buy many things on a shopping trip.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? What would you do, give the person money, or just keep to yourself? It would be great to have a homeless person's perspective on a situation like this. If the situation presents itself again and it feels right, I hope to be able to help out someone in need if it happens again.