Today a man asked me for money, and I said no.
He spent quite a while making his pitch. He said that he needed money to renew his commercial driver’s license to get a job. He even spent quite a while telling me this; he motioned for me to sit down, and he talked for nearly 10 minutes. He claimed to have a wife and kids, and to be a recovering heroin addict. It was a good story, and a definite emotional appeal.
The thing is, I don’t need an emotional appeal. I’m willing to give someone money if they need it, but he failed to make the case that his story was true. He didn’t have his driver’s license on him. His speech was pretty well-prepared, as though he’d given it before. He said he was going to take a bus to the DMV, but I would have felt better to drive him there, since that would make it more likely that his story was true. He was smoking a cigarette, and he flicked the butt onto the ground when he finished it. I don’t buy cigarettes for me, and I don’t litter. I don’t see why I should help him do either of those.
After a while, I cut him off and told him that I wouldn’t give him the money. I told him it was because of the missing driver’s license and the littering. He didn’t say anything more to me, and he didn’t even look at me.
In the end, I think I made the right decision. How can you ask someone for help while you break the law by littering? This is Berkeley, after all, and people tend to care about stuff like that. Also, if you were going to go to the DMV to renew your license, why don’t you have it?