Posted on Oct 9, 2021

10 October 2021

I go to downtown Minneapolis to get my hair cut.

You wouldn’t think I’d go all that way for as little hair as I have—but it’s a longer story.

One  day I was there early in the morning before most of the stores were open.

Along comes a young man–maybe 20 something, clean cut, but obviously disturbed.

I’m about the only other person around and he’s heading straight for me.

He comes up to me and says: “I, I, I need a quarter.  Can you give me quarter?”

I begin to reach in my pocket and suddenly, he’s more upset.

“I’m not begging, really I’m not begging.

I have to make a phone call.  I have to call my mother.

I came to work and there’s nobody there.

See, right there, there’s a phone.  You can watch me.

I’m not lying.  I don’t lie.  God doesn’t like it when I lie.”

I hand him a quarter. “Watch me, I’m really going to call my mother.”

I say that I trust him and walk away.

Now there’s three things about this incident that I continued to think about.

1.  I rarely carry change.  I just don’t.  Odd, that on that day, I would have a quarter.

Clearly, I had the resources to give what was asked of me.

Isn’t that true most of the time.  We have  what is asked of us.

2.  It wasn’t a big deal, just a quarter.  But I wondered what my limit was–a buck?

If he asked for a buck, I would probably have given it to him.

$5?  Probably, maybe. $10?  I certainly had $10 in my pocket–my haircut would cost that much. but would I have given it to him? $20? $50? 

Just what is my limit on “easy” charity/kindness?

3.  I felt really odd that that kid worked so hard to convince me he really needed the quarter, that he wasn’t lying.

The truth was that he really did need that quarter more than I “need” most of the  things I say I “need.”  Isn’t it interesting how easily we translate simple desires into needs. How we are willing to lie to ourselves to preserve some image we have of ourselves as not being greedy, as being those generically good people.