Full of surprises

| Life in Holland | 5 Comments

The other day I was gathering up some money from the local bank's cash dispenser just around the corner when this homeless person came up to me. I was at first startled by his appearance, but upon closer inspection he appeared to be harmless enough. Or so I thought. He asked in a soft and scratchy voice, you know the kind that makes you feel a hundred times more sorry for the poor guy than you should, "do you have some extra change for a poor and helpless soul?" Hmmm. I felt in an especially generous mood, more than likely because it was five below zero, and this poor guy was shivering in the cold. The hand he held out to me was shaking quite violently, almost as if he had some kind of disease of his nervous system. So I dug into my wallet and carefully handed him a two euro coin, saying "This should be enough, I hope." There was this really warm feeling inside of me, the kind that almost gives you goose bumps or tears in your eyes. I guess I had expected him to be overly surprised by my generous donation, and I was waiting for the satisfying smile of surprise on his face. Instead, he looked at the coin in the palm of his hand, frowned a little with his bushy eyebrows, and mumbled back, "Howabout two fifty then, that would be better." I felt like I had been given the short end of the stick, sucked into a bad deal, so I told him firmly, "no that will be enough for the time being." I was a little nervous being so harsh and to the point, and believe it or not I almost felt guilty. So I just walked away at a quick pace, hoping that he would not attack me from behind. But he didn't and I emerged from this adventure feeling quite disappointed with a world that was not happy enough with my openness and generosities. Another micro-quest of mine to save the world which had failed miserably. Life is full of interesting surprises which make you do double-takes, don't you think? Because of this episode I have changed my philosophy of life ever so slightly.

5 Comments

You should have asked him, "How about a hundred euros, would that be ok?" but then walked away.

I have experienced a quite similar situation a few years ago. Only this was a mother with two minor children, which certainly did not make my feelings of compassion less significant. She looked at me angrily and said: What is the matter with you; don´t you have any paper-money?
I remember thinking exactly the same as you did, but the long time effect of the incident made me realise that her reacting in this inproper way was a very important reason why she needed the help indeed.
So I did not stop helping people in the street.

Greed has a trickle down effect. From the boardroom to the sidewalk, so it seems....

That doesn't sound right at all. But, then again, not much in this world sounds entirely right all the time anyway.

hi there!...I had a similar occurance. It was winter time. I was only 18 at the time and just getting off of work. It was night time. I was at a stop light on a busy highway. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man standing next to the road. As soon as I realized that he had his thumb out, i turned my head quickly away from him. My mother always told me never to pick up hitchhikers. I was wishing for the light to turn green. I was looking straight ahead when i heard a tapping on my driver's window. I turned to see the man there, on the highway next to my car. I rolled my window down a little and he said, "Can you give me a ride up the road?"...and Iwould have said no, except he had snow all in his whiskers and beard and it was freezing out. So I said sure. I remember saying to myself as he walked around to the passengers side that if something happens to me, that I was just trying to be a good person. So he got in and I took him up the road to a McDonald's. I was all nervous again. I couldn't just let him out of the car without giving him any money to eat, but I had just cashed my check and feeling that I had been lucky so far with him not doing anything to me, so I sneakily looked in my pocket so he couldn't see and pulled out a five dollar bill and gave it to him. As I pulled away, I thanked my lucky stars to have had someone that actually needed me for something and came out of it without being hurt.

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

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