It's a grand lie that this country is filled with people who want something from their government for nothing. They want something from us for nothing. Just this morning on our way to work we got hit up 3 times for money, and Scrooge that we are we said no each time.
And it's not just money. It's cigarettes too. We have a strict policy--we give away one cigarette per day. It's a rare day that we don't meet that quota. Why, just the other day a guy had the gumption to ask for two cigarettes. He put 32 cents down on the bench we were sitting on, and said, "The other cigarette is for my friend. He's not retarded or anything." We didn't see what his friend's intelligence or lack thereof had to do with anything, but the fact remains that the guy wouldn't take no for an answer. No matter that 32 cents hardly covers one cigarette, and we didn't want his 32 cents to begin with. He just wanted two butts, not one, and our explanation that we only ever give away one cigarette per day made little impression on him. Why, we were on the verge of demanding the first cigarette back when he finally stalked off in a huff.
Offering to buy a cigarette is a well-known tactic here in DC, elsewhere probably as well, We've never actually accepted money for a cigarette, but sometimes we're tempted to see how much the prospective buyer is willing to pay. Someday we're going to ask for a dollar, just to see what reaction we get.
We weren't always such a scrooge, and we still give money to the occasional beggar who strikes our fancy. It helps if they say they want the money to buy beer. But the fact remains that you move to the city with the milk of human kindness in your heart, and you give away dollars like they're going out of style, and then one day you just stop. You've become hardened and inured to the hardships of people who, however brazen they are in asking for something for nothing, are down and out just like you could one day be down and out.
It's a pity, and you rationalize your parsimoniousness whatever way you can. "I can't help them all you say," and in so doing you help none of them. And in so doing you avoid the truth that you've become a hard-hearted bastard, who looks away from the suffering of others who may or may not (the odds are not) be too lazy to find real work. So what most of them are looking for cash to buy booze or crack or heroin or crank. They've got a pain in their heart, and they're doing the best they can.