I had just left work today when a black man who appeared to be in his late 40s or early 50s approached me. His hair was a complete mess, and his teeth were rotted.

"Excuse me," he said. "I’ve just gotten out of prison, and I’m going to be on the streets until tomorrow. Do you have two or three dollars in change that I could have? I’m trying to get about ten bucks, and I don’t want to have to rob anybody – I did eighteen months for that."

I reached into my pocket and realized that I only had a quarter. So I pulled out my wallet and gave him a five dollar bill.

And then he spoke to me about how he knew someone who had gone to my school and had ended up playing in the NHL. He asked where I lived. I said "North of here." He asked if I was Jewish, and I said no. Then he shook my hand, thanked me, and walked away.

Maybe I’m naive, but I think that this man was more deserving of my money than the average beggar.

He was probably telling the truth, first of all. If you were someone in need of money, you wouldn’t lead off your sales pitch with "I’ve just gotten out of prison." I respect honesty. And while I couldn’t relate to his situation, I could at least sympathize.

The difference between my beggar and others is that the others just sit on street corners with signs that say "Homeless. Please help. God bless."

And that’s nice and all, but it’s not going to get any money out of me. If I don’t know how you got to where you are, I don’t know where my money is going to.

The worst part is that most other beggars lead off with "Could you spare some change?" Those ones never get my money. But my beggar was polite, by starting off with "Excuse me." And then, instead of going straight to demanding money, he told me a small bit of his story. He placed human emotion in front of his need for money. It’s funny how people with very little can put money above emotion too. Greed isn’t only for the rich.

But as I said, maybe I’m naive. What would you have done?

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