I don’t usually give money to people. I’m far too familiar with the many scams that are out there, and I know that my money will go a lot further and help a lot more people by purchasing food for the food bank rather than give it to individuals begging on the street (I have had a habit of putting $5 toward the food bank fund every time I was asked for money in the past — I would like to continue that, but may have to reduce it to $1 with the current minimum wage challenge restrictions). So I wasn’t really expecting to hand $10 to a total stranger today, but that’s exactly what I did.
Since this is my last day visiting my mom before heading off to my second house sitting job this year, and having a ton of work to do, I decided that this probably wasn’t the best time to test if I could be more productive at home or at the library (I’ll do that testing when I have a longer period to visit and can do all three back to back). So I headed to the coffee shop to work knowing I still had money on my card that I could use to get a drink. I did find out the least expensive drink is a small coffee ($1.75), but unfortunately, I don’t drink coffee. So I have to settle for my $2 tea.
I figured with the card and a day full of article writing to do, it was going to be an inexpensive and uneventful day. So much for my predictive powers…
The rain started to drizzle and I was working away from the coffee shop when a young woman and her daughter came in to use the ATM. There had been a few other people that had come in to use it, and although I wasn’t really paying attention, I made out that it wasn’t working at the moment and people couldn’t withdraw money. There was something in the young woman’s voice that made me look up. With the little girl by her side, she was panicked. I sort of made out that they were supposed to see a movie together at the theater, but she didn’t have enough money for the tickets. She desperately asked where the nearest ATM was, and the staff explained that there was one about a 5 min. drive down the road. She looked at her watch, grabbed the little girls hand and started to run out the door.
There was just something about her demeanor and actions that made me conclude that the movie was really important. I’m not sure if there was any special meaning for the movie they were going to see, but my gut told to me that she needed to see the movie and she wasn’t sure how she was going to get the money to do it. Without really thinking about it, I got up from my seat and ran out the door after the two. I managed to catch them after about 100 yards. She turned and you could tell her mind was running 100 miles an hour trying to figure out how to get to the nearest ATM and still make the beginning of the move.
I asked her how much she needed for the movie. She seemed somewhat confused by the question. I asked again. She said the $10 would do so I reached into my pocked, pulled out a $10 bill and gave it to her. I think she was more stunned than anything, then an immense look of relief. She thanked me profusely and asked how she could repay. I simply told her to make sure to pay it forward to somebody else someday.
I really have no idea what the whole story is or whether she really needed the money or not. I just had the feeling she did and acted on it. Was it financially smart thing for me to do well living on a minimum wage budget? Probably not. There certainly may be sometime during this challenge where I wish I had that $10 back. But my gut tells me that it was the correct thing to do under the circumstances. I guess my basic feeling is that I hope that if I am ever in a situation where I was in such a panic, that there would be somebody who would be willing to help me out.
One of my biggest worries with the challenge has been that I would begin to over analyze all the daily financial transactions I make so that the money becomes the overriding theme of each day. Whether I was right or wrong in giving the woman the money from a financial perspective, my hope is that I can keep that spontaneity to listen to my gut and do what seems to be right at the moment rather than always stepping back and over analyzing.
So what’s your opinion? Did I make the right move, or should I have found out more of the story before offering the money? What would have you done in a similar situation? Do you give money to strangers, and if so, under what circumstances?
Next article: Day Ten: Do I Really Have To Try To Date?
(Photo courtesy of savanna-smiles)