Tonight I made a wager

on the goodness of one “John White.”

John White, panhandler
Grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, near the racetrack where he used to work, whose name he cannot recall
Just got to Pittsburgh and started working at the (building near where I was standing) yesterday
Owns a (van that is right over there) that just broke down
Needs some kind of sealant for the antifreeze, which costs $4.80, and can be bought either at AutoZone, or, if that’s closed, which it clearly is, at the shop up at Penn and Swissvale
Wait, you say you’ll go buy it with me? Why would you want to do that?
Doesn’t usually do this
Isn’t panhandling, like those guys who are all drunk and saying “I need some money to eat”
Is a Christian
Swears to God that he’s not panhandling
Does not take God lightly
Needs a sealant that costs $7.80
No, didn’t say that it cost $4.80. Said that he HAD $4.80.
Has the 80 cents right here, see?
Has the four dollars, um, on his card, see, has an Access Card
See, the sealant cost $13.60, and he said he had $4.80
But then that’d be $8.80, but, uh, …

You get the idea. Clearly lying. But I figure, what the hell. I gave John White my SMC number and mailing address. I made it possible for him to repay me (without endangering myself). I gave him the money. I know I’ll never see that $4.80 again. But what if I do? Then John White is a good dude in my book, and maybe I should perk up about the general state of the world, because this is a world in which you can give a beggar some money AND GET PAID BACK.

Or, much more likely, I’ll never see that $4.80 again. He gave me a phone number though. In a week (assuming he hasn’t paid me), I’ll call it. It’ll be entertaining to see whose number he gave me.

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