Monday, November 15, 2010

A Helping Hand

Just got back from lunch.. went to El Pollo Loco, first let me say that this El Pollo is in a rundown part of Santa Monica. There was this youngish guy who was in the early 20's and he was asking the employee how much things were, looks like he had one of the welfare debt cards. Anyways he ordered some food and it came out to $4.89, when the employee swiped the card she told him it had only a few cents on it. He kind of turned back to me and gave me an apologizing smile, then rummage through his pockets and manage to pull out $4 in change. So then he asked what he could get for under $4. I almost offered to pay the remaining .89 cents but I wasn't sure how he would take it. I mean he wasn't dirty and looked very clean cut, I did notice he had a duffel bag and a few paper bags with him but I wasn't sure if he was homeless. I knew he was already feeling embarrassed and I didn't want to make him feel any worse but on the same note everyone deserves to eat and I would have paid for his full meal if he'd let me but in the end I didn't offer. I kind of feel bad that I didn't but the uncertainty of how he would have reacted stopped me. What would you have done? Should I have offered and taken the chance of offending or embarrassing him even more?


  1. I can definitely understand your dilemma, it is hard to watch things like that as you really want to help them out while at the same time you don't want to make them feel any worse. I don't think there really is a right answer and I honestly don't know what I would have done in that situation

  2. There is no good answer, as there are 2 sides. On the one hand he might even be more embarrassed... on the other hand, if he accepts your 'charity' and he sees you in the future, he might expect the same charitable work from you.
    My suggestion would be: always go with your gut feeling!

  3. I've been in that situation before, and every time I go through the same mental argument. On one hand, the last thing that you want to do is embarrass the guy, but on the other, sometimes a simple gesture from a stranger can totally make your day.

    I think that as long as you're cool about the situation it doesn't matter if you donate or not. Smiling and letting him no that it's no big deal, just basically communicating through body language that you're not annoyed and don't think he's a scum bag, is the important thing. C:

  4. Harry posted the EXACT answer I was going to. You have to go with your gut since each of these situations is slightly different.

  5. Tough one.. For one, he could be the sweetest guy ever, or he could be an intolerant, hateful bastard. When you helping a stranger you never know if he could be your friend, or a total ****. It's not like you could have started interviewing him either :)

    Either way it's not a very big deal, if he buys something for 4$ or 4.87$ there is not much difference. I would not have done anything different than you did. If he had no money at all and was clearly in need, then the situation would be different.