Thursday, October 12, 2006

Growing Up Fast

A couple months ago I was on a commuter train with my older daughter, who will be 8 in November. We were waiting for the train to pull out of the station when a woman got on and announced that she was homeless, a widow, and something "really bad" had happened to her and her children that afternoon. She needed to raise $15 before the end of the day.

I have seen this woman on the subway in the city several times, and she always tells the same story. Needless to say, I wasn't buying what she was selling. But little E was completely captivated and as the story became more compelling, she looked at me with pleading blue eyes and implored me to give this woman some money. I just shook my head "no" as the woman walked past us and then off the train.

E immediately turned and looked at me disapprovingly. "Daddy! Why didn't we help her?"

"Sweetie," I said, "I've seen that lady in the subway and on the train before and she always tells the same story. She's not telling the truth."

"Oh," said E knowingly. "Alcohol?"

1 comment:

KK said...

What you don't know is that this very same thing used to happen to E and me on the subway when we lived in Brooklyn and I was the one who told her that a lot of the money given to those panhandlers ends up buying alcohol or drugs, and that we instead give money to food organizations who actually HELP homeless people. I guess she absorbed the lesson! She did have a fascination for awhile with the logistics of living on the street-- it was much better, in her view, to have a tent made of a shopping cart and an umbrella than to be roaming the subway cars. Such a city child...