Any Kindness Helps

Posted on September 15, 2010


Please Note: I’m going to get a little bit political/opinionated here.  You’ve been warned.

I never give money to panhandlers.  Not on the street, certainly not stopped in my car on an interstate off ramp when I’m alone with my daughter.  Not. Ever.

Until last Saturday. Li’l Girl and I were on our way home from dropping treats off at the Pet Super Adoption event, and when we got off of the interstate to go home, there was a guy standing there holding a sign.  I didn’t really look twice.  I hit the button to ensure that the doors were locked and stared straight ahead.  Li’l suddenly blurted out, very sadly, “Oh, that guy has a dog with him.” I looked over and sure enough, he had a brindled bully mix laying on the ground in the shade.  Both of them looked exhausted.  I read the guy’s sign.  It said, simply “Any Kindness Helps.”

He wasn’t complaining about his situation, or making excuses.  He wasn’t “Out of Work” or a “Homeless Vet” or “Stranded, Need Money to Get Home” …  He wasn’t a “Single Mom, Please Help” … He wasn’t any of the typical signs, the ones I always think “Okay, you know that there are programs for people in your position, right?” or “Okay, so you can leave your kids home to stand here, but not to walk inside that Taco Bell and get a job?”

Just “Any Kindness Helps”.  No lies.  No crap.  No Excuses.

For some reason the thought occurred to me that he is somebody’s brother… That he could have a sister somewhere crying every day for him and hoping he’s okay… That he is a kid who took a wrong turn, probably a series of them… That he could have done a lot with his life, but he chose a path that landed him where he was at that moment, imprisoned by the events in his life and reliant on the kindness of strangers.   I am a sister like that.  One who worries every day about her brother who made a bunch of wrong turns and now sits, relying on his family who he can only communicate with through letters, not knowing when he has any chance of being free and moving on with his life.   It took a lot for my own brother to get a wake up call, I hope my friend on the side of the off ramp gets his soon.

I can’t say what possessed me to feel so strongly that I needed to help this stranger out, but I did.   I gave him a ten dollar bill.  When he saw what it was, he looked me in the eyes and said a very heartfelt “Thank you.”   I don’t know what he did with the money.  Maybe he went to McDonald’s and got food for himself and the dog.  Maybe he bought booze or weed.  Maybe he called his buddy and told him how he’d scored a ten spot.

Maybe he found a way to call his family.  Maybe his sister got a rush of happiness knowing he was okay.   Maybe my kindness helped.   I felt like there was an honesty about him.   Mostly I hope that he wakes up and finds his way back to where he should be before it’s too late.