A friend of mine was telling me recently about an interesting incident. He and his family had just left a local department store and were walking toward their car. He was lagging behind the others a bit when a stranger stopped him.
The man was disheveled and actually reeked, something for which he apologized. He explained to my friend, who had signaled protectively to his family to get into the car, that he needed $15 to stay in a nearby hotel he had been referred to by a local homeless shelter. The shelter had no room for him that night and had told him about this hotel that could put him up for $15. He went on to explain that he had a job interview the next day and that he really needed that shower.
My buddy, a guy known to think things through, told me that the guy, despite his appearance, sounded genuine so he decided to ask him what the name of this nearby hotel was. The feller didn't hesitate and told him. My friend used his smart phone to find and then dial the hotel. The story checked out. They did indeed offer cheap rooms to those who had been referred by the shelter.
The friend turned to the stinking man and handed him a $20 bill and sent him on his way.
But the story wasn't quite through.
A number of months later, my friend's wife was approached by a clean-shaven man in a business suit. He told her who he was and how a man she was with some months back had helped him out when he was in dire need. He told her that the following day, he had aced a job interview and had been hired by a local company and had been gainfully employed ever since.
He then handed her a $100 while relaying his gratitude.
Now I'm no fool and neither I'm sure are you. Not every story of giving to someone in need ends this way. Sad but true. In fact, more times than not, we're likely to get burned.
But look, what's the cost? A few bucks here, a few bucks there?
My pal took a chance. He saw dignity in a person where most people see a bum.
We're called to see dignity in people and my buddy answered that call. Beautifully.
Hats off to him. Might we all learn from his example.