Saturday, July 14, 2007

Helpless

I scratched my poison ivy blotches for the 700th time that day before looking through my windshield to see him. He stood just beside the post office door. Despite the 80 degree temperature he wore a winter coat.

Sometimes slow to grasp the incredibly obvious, it was only after a long moment that I realized he was panhandling. It's not often that one sees such an individual in my mostly middle class neighborhood.

I walked the few steps from the car to the post office door carrying my package. Walking by him across the pavement, I turned to look. He turned my way and looked back defiantly. But my gaze was not intended to convey contempt. Instead, I was wondering exactly what series of events brought this individual to his current circumstances.

Passing through the door, I resolved to hand him a few dollars on my way out. Walking in, I made my way immediately to the clerk who was thankfully unoccupied. After taking care of my business with the clerk, I grabbed a few priority envelopes and made my way back to the door.

Emerging back into the bright sunlight, I looked over to the spot where he had stood. To my great surprise, he was gone. In the brief time that I was in the building he had disappeared. This was confirmed by a quick visual survey of the area. Where had he gone?

I felt bad that I hadn't taken a moment earlier to hand him some cash.

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