July 20 16

This week I gave $24.00 and my leftover lunch to two people who asked me for help.

Many years ago, on an unusually cold winter night, a young girl showed up on my suburban doorstep. She had gotten turned around, confused by all of the streets that looked the same, and had exhausted the battery life on her smartphone. For a split second I worried that she might be scamming me, but then I realized that there was a cold, tired, and scared young girl in front of me, asking for my help. She came inside to warm up, we charged her phone, and we called her a cab to take her home. The cab came and then she disappeared.

I still think about her today. I truly hope she got home okay.

But mostly I think about that momentary feeling of doubt. And I’m mad at myself that I had it. That my instincts went to doubt, even if those feelings only stuck around for a few short seconds.

Two nights ago, I arrived at the airport to pick up my son, fresh from his visit to Milwaukee for two weeks at Green Bay Packers camp. His flight was delayed, of course. I watched the arrivals board change — 4 minutes late, 17 minutes late, 26 minutes late, 35 minutes late. So I moved myself out of the crowd of flower holders and eager relatives to download this pokemon app and finally see what all of this fuss is about check my email.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 2.01.16 PM

“Do you speak English?” I looked up to see a young man in front of me, shaking, bleeding, scared. “Yes, of course. Are you okay?” He then went on to tell me this story about a fight with his boyfriend who beat him and then took his carry-on bag — which carried his passport and license and documents and money — and could I help him. He was talking so fast and shaking so much, it was hard for me to understand his story but I didn’t hesitate, reached into my bag and gave him a $20 bill. I directed him to someone who could help him — I had to go find my arriving son. He hugged me, cried again, and hugged me again. And then disappeared.

Yesterday, after lunch with a friend, a shaky woman approached the two of us, telling us that she was trying to get to a shelter but had to take two kinds of public transit to get there and didn’t have any money. We gave her what we had in cash — which for me was only $4 — and my lunch leftovers. And then she disappeared.

“What if they were scamming you?” a friend later asked me.

Look, they could have been scamming me. Of course they could have. But you know what? My gut told me told me the exact opposite. And to be honest, I’ve become a big fan of following my gut — even when my git is all, mmmmcookie dough. These two people went to the trouble to approach a complete stranger to beg for help. (You guys, *I* can’t even ask my mother-in-law for help.) There were no feelings of doubt here, not even for a second.

I’m still thinking about them today, but not because of any doubt.

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  1. I wish I was more like that. I think every one of those is a scam. Now granted, it’s mostly because I take public transit to work every day and I hear the same guy, tell the same story, every other week and I know that he’s full of shit. He’s already had that $11 for a bus ticket to Rockford 11 times over.

    I also think it is because I’m single and live alone. Better safe than sorry.

    You’re a good person!

    [Reply]

    ali replied on

    I don’t know, that’s the thing. Maybe these were scams, I have no clue.

    but, I don’t know, there was something different about these than the people who walk around at red lights or whatever. There was something more genuine in the tremble of their voices. I don’t know.

    [Reply]

    Kristabella replied on

    Well I think you should always trust your gut, so I think you did a great thing for all these people!

    [Reply]

    Comment by Kristabella on July 20, 2016
  2. I love this. Even if they are scamming you, you feel good by doing good. Kindness is magic & it will comeback to you

    [Reply]

    Comment by Julieanne on July 20, 2016
  3. You da real MVP, Ali. xoxo

    [Reply]

    Comment by Heather on July 20, 2016
  4. Love this post. The world needs more people who respond the way you did.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Katy on July 20, 2016
  5. I love this.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Amy on July 20, 2016
  6. Love this!
    I often wonder this too about being scammed but then I realize that even if they are scamming me they are that in need or they are that “messed up” or hurting or on the wrong path or whatever that they feel they need to do that. A little bit of my time and few bucks isn’t going to hurt.

    [Reply]

    Comment by Alison on July 20, 2016
  7. Like a friend of mine used to say when someone stole something of her sons. “I guess they needed it more than we did.”

    Sometimes I remind myself of that.

    [Reply]

    Comment by paula schuck on July 29, 2016
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