The Truth Could Cost You

I have some moral tenets that I stick to. 

I do my best not to lie.  I will talk around the truth.  I will hold information back.  But I think lying causes more trouble than honesty.  (Unless you are my cat.  Then you are too honest and need to calm the sam hill down. Or at least meow less harshly.)

I try not to spend too much money.  I think about my budget too much.  I know that buying things does not make me feel better.  I know there is always more money to be made later.

Lastly, I attempt to treat people that are homeless like people.  My life is very easy.  Great.  Theirs is not.  Boo.  No need to be a jerk.  Try to get along with those who have a bigger struggle.

There are times when those three beliefs risk colliding into each other.  Fusion is a fun concept, but I would rather not be in the middle of it.

I know some folks that like to travel.  Traveling does not rake in the big bucks.  I am not entirely opposed to helping folks out as they trek from hither to thither.  The fun comes when they wish to repay loans.  Money orders and checks in the international mail can get messy.  Apparently transferring funds between bank applications only works when you are in the same country?  The solution I have been offered is going to a drug store and using their money-transferring service.  The sender pays a small fee and the amount is paid out from the register to the recipient.

While some folks move from country to country, some are still looking for places to live.  Before the pandemic, there were homeless people that would talk to me.  For the most part, nobody bothered me too aggressively.  I have a downward-facing visage.  My brows can be furrowed, my goatee leans towards sternness.  I am not an approachable mark.  Yet, some individuals made the effort.

I do my best not to carry money with me.  If you do not have the bills on you, it is harder to spend them.  Those that are homeless did not have many opportunities to receive funds from me.  If they asked if I had change, and I did, I would tell them so.  If they asked if I had a buck, and I did, it would probably end up in their hands.  Still, more often than not, I did not have on hand what they were after.

(This is one more reason why I rarely wear flannels anymore.  The main reason is that they are heavy.  The second is that they do not deflect moisture, they absorb it.  However, towards the end of my reasons, is that people would keep asking if I had a lighter.  Or a cigarette.  I never did.  Ever.)

Join us now in the Covid world.  Panhandlers do not seem to thrive in the pandemic.  Maybe they have learned that people want even more distance than they did before.  Maybe they have seen everyone else remain in their bunkers.  Maybe they are tired, plain and simple.  Whatever the reason, they rarely talk to me these, let alone ask for anything.

Yesterday was the perfect storm.  I went to a store and picked up an order that was waiting for me.  Of course, because who else is going to take them, they paid me in hundred-dollar bills.  I thanked the cashiers, left the store, and started to feel self-conscious. 

Walk around downtown with five hundred dollars in your pocket.  No loved ones know exactly where you are.  It is dark outside.  There are some quirky characters around.  Sounds fun, huh?

I travel with purpose down the sidewalk, eager to catch the bus home.  I do not draw attention to myself.  I do not challenge anyone or seek out another person’s gaze.  Briskly do I traverse my path.

“Hey bud,” called a voice this week.

I paused.  A mini-debate coursed through my brain.  If the guy asked if I had any money, I wanted to answer him honestly.  Technically, if he asked if I had a buck, I could have finagled my way out of it.  Because no, I did not have a single dollar bill on me.  The same applied to spare change.  No coins here.  I had plans for the money.  I knew where I wanted it to go.  However, I also wanted to treat people like people.  And if God wanted this person to get some help, then this was as good a way as any to achieve that.  It was not what I had planned.  Yet, that could be said for many things that God has put in front of me.

In the second it took me to think all that, I turned to the fellow.

“What’s up?”  I offered the phrase in a non-threatening tone.  My mentality when dealing with unknown individuals on dark streets is time-tested:  Don’t start none, won’t be none. 

“You got a cigarette?” he asked.

“No, I don’t,” I answered with full honestly.

He turned back to the lit cigarette he already had.  His circle of interest returned to the entryway that he was standing in.  I offered him a parting phrase and took off.

No lying.  No deceit.  Not even a half-truth.  One person asking me for something I did not have.  My budget plans went undisturbed, no one got hurt, and no shenanigans played out.

Though I have to keep in mind that there are plenty of other interactions.  Plenty of opportunities to have my plans come at odds with what I should do.  It is entirely possible this will all play out a different way next time.

In the meantime, I cling to my tenets.  I am no saint.  I am far from perfect.  But I sleep just fine.  I like having money in my accounts, but I value a clear conscience more.

About Cosand

He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.
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