Friday, September 13, 2013

Unexpected Beauty

I've been noticing a considerable increase in the amount of men standing with signs lately. I'm not sure what's caused the influx but I can count 5 regular locations where you'll often find a man with a sign in my town and the two neighboring it. Last year there was just one location and it was owned by just one man. Apparently he's started a trend.

All these men with signs don't look like alcoholics or drug addicts (because you  know I'm an expert at spotting such people) but I still haven't stopped to give a single one of them money. Not the guy who holds, "unemployed. will work for food." He's the original sign man by the way, the one who was given a Starbucks drink that one time. I haven't given money to the guy who holds, "single dad. need help." Nor the man who holds, "retired vet. need work." And I certainly didn't give money to the kid (I'm talking 17 years old) holding a piece of paper that read... who knows what; it was too small to read. Or any of the others. I hardly ever see anyone give these men money either.

I've thought alot about them. These sad looking men holding signs on corners where traffic is rushing by stir up such emotions as pity, sadness, apathy. You really do want to help but it just doesn't feel right. Here's where I interject my true thoughts. There are thousands of cars driving by these guys each hour.We're talking rushing traffic, huge intersections, TONS of cars (with people in them). Lets say 1 out of every 500 cars stops and gives sign man $10. That's WELL over $20 an hour. That's 2 or 3 or 4 times more than I make at my job, working, BEFORE TAXES. These guys would NOT be standing with that sign if people didn't give them money. "Unemployed. Will work for food" stands on his corner like a full time job at least 5 days a week. He's making money. I'm sure of this.

Today I saw something different. I exited the highway and stopped at a red light in a line of 8 cars. I was at one of the regular sign man intersections but there was a man without a sign. Actually he didn't look sad or pitiful. He was a fairly handsome white haired old man and he was playing a violin at a VERY busy intersection with traffic rushing by. It seemed a lot different than a regular street performer playing for folks strolling around in a downtown shopping area during their free time.

I turned off the radio, rolled down the window and smiled to myself, "how lovely!" Then I decided that I wanted to give this guy money. He didn't have sign. He wasn't exactly asking for money but he was creating a totally unexpected bit of beauty in the midst of hustle and bustle and chaos and I felt the need to reward that. I also really liked the serene look on his face. It was as if his only goal was to make all of us rushing by in our cars smile, if only for a brief moment.

I pulled some money out of my wallet, waited for the light to turn green, and then had to chuckle as I watched 3 of the 8 cars in front of me hand him money as well. I guess the ratio for rewarding beauty versus begging is unmeasurable. I'm left wondering about life in general. Am I all talk or am I adding a bit of beauty to the busy world I live in? 

10 comments:

  1. Hmm, interesting.
    I know you add determination to my world :)

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    1. we really keep each other encouraged. you're the best!

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  2. You both were adding beauty to the world. Good for you!

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    1. Thank-you! It was a neat experience.

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  3. I don't ever hand money out to people on the side of the road. I've never been in a situation where I was that desperate but I think there are better uses of someones time to try to get back on their feet and earn some money than just standing around hoping for a hand out. One thing your story about the violin player reminded me of was one day when I was stuck in traffic because of construction. There were highschool students from the swim team standing on the sides of the road trying to raise money. They were really hilarious and entertained me so much while I sat around waiting on traffic that I had to donate money to them.

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    1. Exactly, you felt like you were given something. You wanted to give them money because in a way you wanted to give them back a gift for the gift they'd given you.

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  4. I just pray tp God I never have to rely on the kindness of strangers to survive. Kindness is in short supply these days.

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    1. I agree that kindness is in short supply BUT if you were in the situation where kindness from others was the only thing that'd get you through I believe the Lord would send incredible people your way. In truth, those guys with the signs, I know people stop to help them, and I like to think those kind people offer them words and kindness that also change their lives.

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  5. I never give money to people on the side of the road. I think they are mostly drug addicts and homeless. They could go get a real job like the rest of us.

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    1. Well you just came out and said it, huh. Half of me feels the exact same way which is why I virtually never hand out money but it still tugs at my heart strings every time I see one of those guys holding a sign. There has to be SOOOO much story behind every single one of those signs and we'll never know any of those stories really. Yeah.

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