in WWYD?

6. What Would You Do?

I was standing with my wife, waiting for the traffic light to change.  Just behind me was a woman sitting on the sidewalk, panhandling.  She looked unwell.  Like she was high, or like she needed some kind of medication for her mental health.  In front of her was a sign that said: “Abusive Ex Left Me Homeless, Please Help With Money for Food and Shelter”.
Anyway, I was standing with my wife, waiting for the traffic light to change, when I heard a voice behind me:

God!  That is the most retarted sign I have ever seen.  I mean, seriously, you really need to change your sign.  Fuck.  It’s so fucking retarted.

So, I turn around and see a young man — probably in his early twenties, standing in front of the homeless woman.  He’s looking down on her contemptuously, and mocking her in between drags on his cigarette.  Taking his time with it, you know?
There are other people walking by, not taking any notice. 
So… if you were in this situation, what would you do?  Seriously, not what would you want to do, but what do you think you would actually do?

Write a Comment



  1. Hmm I think I’d have my heart and mind racing, and I’d give some lame attempt at a rebuke to the guy… Then later I’d come up with something I SHOULD have said/done

  2. Wow. What did you do?
    What a spoilt little bastard. My unchristian anger management issues came to the fore when I read that. I don’t think I could keep my mouth shut.

  3. Chuckle at the humor of the situation since the sign is stupid manipulation. Then think about how pitiful all three of us are in our own way with no one likely to change.

  4. James: Maybe the sign is manipulation. Maybe not. We can’t really know what this woman has or has not experienced based upon our chance encounter with her on the street and I am always frustrated by, and ashamed of, those who jump to these conclusions so quickly. Why is everybody always so sure that beggars are liars?
    Furthermore, it is worth asking why beggars that lie, feel as though they need to lie to us in order to be treated kindly. This, I think, says more about us than it says about them. For the most part, we are all heartless bastards who couldn’t give a crap (or a dollar) about most other people, so I guess some beggars feel that they need to exaggerate things in order to be treated charitably. It just shows how much we have betrayed the commands to give generously to the poor and to all who ask of us. That some beggars feel the need to lie isn’t much of a comment on their own moral character. Rather, it mirrors back to us our own lack of virtue.

  5. For some reason, what comes to mind is a bald-faced lie.
    I turn to the guy, look at him, and say, “Hey man, your fly is down.”
    Then when he looks up in confusion, I say “Have some respect, dude, shit happens.”

  6. will anyone read my late comments?
    regardless it is a good waste of time…
    i can relate to matthew in his attempt to do something but then fantasize about what i should have done later (we are the weak people that Nietzshe speaks of)
    sometimes i have the courage to speak out but it depends on the situation… which makes me relate to agathos (jokes im an intimidating small korean man, people scared of me because i look dangerous…but really its all a front).
    although i do not agree with the manipulation part, i think what james says is true in the fact that change is not easy for any of us.
    BUT ultimately i like eric’s choice…the fly thing is ingenious.

  7. What about engaging the young dude? If I was in one of my brave moods, I might say.. ‘What do you think she should write on the sign then?’ .. Who knows? Maybe he will wake up to his own big head and either
    1.Say that I’m crazy and walk away
    2.Make some suggestions.. at which point I’ll say, ‘that’s not bad,’ and sit down next to the beggar and help her write a new one
    I do find, like Eric, that creative ways to deal with situations like that (third ways?) can be a lot of fun and it usually happens spontaneously when I am healthy spiritually and physically.