So on the way to the airport, I am talking with the Uber driver.
“There is such a discrepancy between the rich and the poor here,” I say.
“Yeah,” she says, “When I drive and stop at the lights, there are many poor people that come up to the car looking for a handout.”
She continues, “I usually have a few dollars here” pointing to the little cubby hole under the parking break.
“But my friends make fun of me saying, they [the panhandlers] are just going to go out and buy a beer!”
Excuse #1 not to give poor people — they’ll misuse our charity and buy alcohol, drugs, or prostitutes.
The driver says, “But so what…if I were in their shoes, I’d buy a beer too.”
I’m thinking, hey this is nice…she’s fighting the bad inclination and her friends pressure and still wants to give — this is great!
Sure enough, we stop at a red light, and a really poor man starts walking up to the window to ask for help.
This person is dressed in dirty battered rags of an undershirt, and has sores on their arms and body.
The driver says, “Yeah, if I gave him, he’d probably just switch his shirt inside out later [as if the other side would be magically less dirty and ripped] and go home to his Rolls Royce!”
Wow, when excuse #1 doesn’t hold…
Excuse #2 — the poor people are just faking it…really they aren’t poor, but rather they are fantastically rich and trying to pocket some more money for free.
It’s like the evil inclination sitting on one shoulder telling us “don’t give,” even as the good inclination is sitting over our other shoulder beseeching us to have mercy and “give, give, give.”
In this case, the evil inclination won out.
I reached for my wallet and wanted to open my window, but honestly this person looked scary — dirty and maybe sick — I was afraid of this person.
I hope G-d forgives me, because I feel it wasn’t my evil inclination making excuses, but this time it was genuine for me. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)