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| p.1 #9 · Paris- A person of the streets |
I sincerely hope you helped him out with a snack or something.
Greg- I'm not sure how much you've traveled abroad and observed the apparent lives of the locals, but the truth is that I would have had to find a market, buy a snack for the man, then walk several hundred feet to the stairs leading down to the riverside path, then walk several hundred feet to the man, try to speak to him (I spoke no French, and he almost certainly spoke no English), try to explain that I felt such guilt about his apparent plight that- here's a snack. All without knowing if he would be humiliated by my gesture (probably), or embarrassed by it (almost certainly). Or if indeed he was homeless and hungry.
Lest you think I'm heartless about the less fortunate, I was once at an American fast foods restaurant on Christmas Eve and saw a homeless-looking man reach into the trash bin, pick out a coffee cup and walk to the counter for a "refill." He was not drunk- he just had that "dumpster diver" look. I sat next to him and asked if I could buy him a meal. He looked up (homeless people don't make a lot of eye contact) and said yes, I could. I asked what he wanted, and went to the counter and bought it for him. Handing the food to the man, I asked if I gave him some money, would he use it to buy booze? He gave me a sincere look and said that he would not. I handed him a ten dollar bill, wished him a merry Christmas, and left him to his meal (neither of us was particularly comfortable trying to make small talk).
That doesn't make me a hero or anything, and not giving the man in Paris a snack doesn't make me an unfeeling person.
All circumstances are different, and you have to be there at the time to understand.