I drive my cab from 2:00 p.m. until around 8:00 p.m. On my way to pick up my taxi for the day I passed an older gentleman standing near a street corner with a little sign asking for money. His hands were trembling. I immediately recognized him as a man that my wife and I encountered one night just outside of the local Walgreens late one night. On that particular night, we were pulling away from the curb next to the store and getting ready to head home. He was standing in front of the door on the sidewalk with his walking cane and it appeared like he was waiting for someone. His hands were trembling. My wife Dawn turned to me and said, "do you think we should ask him if he needs a ride?" I agreed and got out of the car and walked up to him and asked. He said he was waiting for a taxi but it had been a long time since he had called them. I offered to give him a lift, he agreed and got into the back seat of our car.
He resembled the great bluegrass musician Bill Monroe - longish white hair and long bushy white sideburns - and had the southern accent to go with it. He thanked us over and over and I asked him a few questions about where he was from and small talk of that nature. We found out he was renting a room not too far from our home. His wife had passed away a year or so ago and on top of that, he had Parkinson's disease (hence the trembling hands). He lived solely off of his social security because he was unable to work. His benefits were under $1,000 and his rent was $500. Whoever owned the house wasn't helping him out with rides or anything else for that matter.
Ignoring the warning bells that were going off in my brain, I decided to give him my phone number and told him if he ever needed a ride and I was in the position to do so, I would. Again he thanked me and I helped him out of the car and to the front porch of where he was staying.
Now, back to the beginning of this story. As I passed this gentleman on the street corner on the way to my taxi, I pulled into the parking lot directly behind him. I had some of my cab cash with me and thought I should give him $10 because I knew he needed it. "Hey! It's me, Tex!" I called towards him. He walked a little hesitantly towards my car stumbling along the way because the sun was in his eyes. "Oh, hi Tex!" he replied. I asked him, "how are you doing?" He said, "It's my birthday; I'm 68." "Well then," I replied, handing him the $10 bill. "Happy birthday!"
I have passed people asking for money on the street and the street corner many times over the years as I'm sure you have - but I've never gotten to know one. I have given "Bill" a ride a number of times in my own car when he didn't have the cash for a taxi. He hasn't abused my offer of help and he has altered my perception a little about some of the people I see that need help.