On a busy street you are approached apologetically by a well-dressed stranger who asks for a dollar to catch a bus and make a phone call. He says he has lost his wallet. What would you do? If approached in the same way by a haggard-looking stranger claiming to be hungry and unable to find a job, what would you do?
First of all, I generally don’t carry cash around with me anymore. I typically use that handy debit card the bank gave me. But let’s assume I have the dollar to spare. I’d give it to either of these men. I mean, it’s just a dollar. Though, to be completely honest, I’d be skeptical about both of them. The well-dressed guy could easily be some kind of con artist. And I’m ashamed to say it, but the truth of the matter is that I’d probably look at the haggard dude with fearful and probably judgmental eyes. I know that’s horrible to say, but it’s true. I’m sure that later, I’d feel guilty for having judged someone in that way, because it’s not my place and I don’t know his story. But I do know that if I gave someone the chance to ask for a dollar and I had it to give, I’d give it.
What would you do? Can you spare a buck?
*The Question of the Week can be found in The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.