|Banksy: "Keep your coins; I want change."|
"Excuse me, I wonder if you could help me." I'm a bit of a power-walker and was in a rush so I was almost down the steps and had to turn around to look at who just said that.
"I wonder if you could help me." He repeated.
"With what?" I asked.
He produced a fifty pence piece and said:
"I need some money to get home, this is all I have. I'm really genuine, all I need it for is to get home."
The cynic in me thought he'd spend it on drugs, so I scanned his face. He did not look like a user at all. I was in a dilemma, should I give him some change? And if so, how much? How could I be sure he was just going to use it on bus fare?
"How much do you need?" I asked as I weighed up the options.
"I really don't know, maybe like 2 quid," He replied.
I could see the desperation on his face. I still couldn't decide what to do, but the cynic in me just took over. He could tell that I didn't know what to do.
"You might wanna try the Student Information Point..?" I said, pointing to it behind me, hoping they could help him out.
"I've already been there, they can't help me. Please, please. I've asked everyone. All I need is to get home." His face began to wobble and he burst into tears. He was so vulnerable.
The cynic in me whispered: "He's turned on the water works just to get you to part with your money, don't be fooled by him."
Despite these thoughts, my heart actually melted. But I couldn't stop thinking about how I could be sure he was going to use it on bus fare.
"I'm really sorry, but I've jut got enough to send this item off at the post office, I really haven't got anything to spare." I said, and looked at the bag in my left hand that contained a perfume I sold on Ebay and had to send off.
I felt bad, because a) I was lying- I had change and b) he was getting really desperate.
"I'm really sorry but good luck anyway." I said, and walked off.
"Thanks," he sniffed.
Later, when I was waiting at the bus stop, I began to think about the encounter that just happened and I actually shed a little tear for this guy. I should have asked him why he had no money, or where was his credit card, or maybe I should have just given him the money and made sure he got on the bus... All these thoughts began to circle in my head.
I began to recall several other encounters with people in the last city I was studying in. They would always say "I need £1 to get on the train to leeds, I've got no change." But they were notorious prostitutes and drug users (I'm not exaggerating), and now it's become drilled into me that all "beggars" want money for drugs or alcohol. This guy wasn't trampy at all, he was just a student like me. I felt so bad for not giving him anything, I made a little du'a that if he was genuine for Allah to get him home safely, and I reassured myself that Allah takes care of all his creation. I even pondered going back and giving him something, apologising for lying, but at that moment, my bus arrived.
What do you do in situations like this? To give or not to give?