Day 181: Buy lunch for a stranger

March 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

Today when  I was walking out of the newsroom downtown, a woman in a dirty jacket came up to me and asked if I would buy her something to eat. She had a shawl over her head and was missing a few teeth.

I couldn’t say no to someone asking for food. When approached for money, it’s easier to shrug off because I don’t know how they’re going to spend it. In Chicago people can be really aggressive, and will walk up to your car window at a stoplight, shake their cup at you and ask for change. But when someone asks specifically for something to eat, I can’t justify saying no. Some might argue that they might not be completely destitute and are just freeloading, but I feel like if you’re so desperate as to subject yourself to the embarrassment of asking for food on the street, then whether or not you’re starving is no longer relevant.

I took her into Potbelly to buy her a sandwich. When the clerk at the counter asked what she wanted, the woman turned to me and asked what to get. I told her to get whatever she wanted, but she only ordered a small pepperoni sandwich. The clerk asked what I wanted but I told him I wasn’t getting anything. He looked over at the woman in the dirty coat and nodded.

After I paid for the woman’s sandwich, she looked at the ground and mumbled “Gobless.” I left her near the register where she was cradling her sandwich. As I walked outside and peered through the window I could see she still hadn’t moved. She just stood there in front of the register, staring at the wall.

If someone comes up to me asking for something to eat, I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

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