There is such a push/pull for me when it comes to hitchhikers and people with signs asking for help. Maybe I’ve read too many stories about things gone wrong or maybe I’m just a chicken. I’m quite sure it has nothing to do with being selfish or too busy to be bothered.

Last week when I was waiting at a traffic light on an off ramp, I saw a man about ten cars ahead holding a need help cardboard sign. This was different because it seems I’m always the first car at the red light trying not to make eye contact so I won’t feel so guilty for not handing a $5.00 out the window. It was one of those 104 degree days and the guy was rocking from one foot to the other. I remembered I had an extra bottle of water in the car, so I rolled down the window and handed it to him as I drove by. He was so gracious and thankful. It really doesn’t take a lot.

I’m so skeptical about handing out money that might go for street drugs or a bottle of cheap whisky. My friend Roxie keeps a stack of $5.00 McDonald’s gift cards in her car to give instead. Maybe we should all should do that.

A few years ago, Jim stopped by a mall when he was on a road trip. As he was leaving, man approached him in the parking lot asking if he had extra change. He was hungry. In typical Jim Brawner style, he didn’t give him money, he invited the man to join him for lunch.

As they were eating Jim asked the man to tell him his story; where he was from, if he had a family, and how he had fallen on hard times. A divorce, drugs, and losing his job were just tiny facets of a complicated life. Jim finally asked his name and was stunned when he realized he had just bought lunch for one of his college football teammates.

“There, but for the grace of God, go I.” ~ John Bradford 1510-1555

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