I'm a very cynical person. When I see people panhandling I think of a myriad of un-nice thoughts like "I can't believe you'd rather stand there and beg for money, rather than earn it" or "I bet this jerkwad is running a scam. He'll stand here all day, getting handouts, and then he'll go get in his Mercedes parked two blocks away."
But this evening, I saw something different.
On my way home from work, I ran to a little shopping center for a quick errand. As I was stopped at a red light to leave the strip mall, there was a young man and his dog on the median. The driver in front of me rolled her window down and handed the man a bag of different items. I couldn't tell what all was in the bag, but I think I saw some toiletries. After the man took the bag, the woman grabbed his arm and had a conversation with him. She petted his dog. He kissed her hand before she pulled away when the light turned green. I didn't hear any of the exchange, but something about the whole thing actually moved me to tears.
The man looked back at my car and I'm sure he saw the tears in my eyes. He waved to me and through my watery gaze, I waved back, offering a tremulous smile, as I wished to some higher power that I had something, anything I could give him. I had bought some candy on my errand, and I thought about offering that to him. But, I felt that would be a mockery.
Tears streamed down my cheeks my whole way home.
Maybe I'm not as cynical as I thought (feared) I was.