I rarely carry cash in my wallet these days, and if I do, it usually ends up in the hands of my children, who seem to think that my purse is their mystery grab bag. I've become accustomed to the kids screaming "I found money!" when in actuality, they just pulled it out of my wallet.
But when I travel, I need real money, so I actually had a few bucks in my bag that they had yet to get their grubby hands on.
I was a little distracted when I pulled up to the stop light, but even in my changing the radio station, which was blaring a medley of quite possibly the worst 90s songs ever, I saw the man asking for money. It's a frequent sight in Atlanta, and one that I'll never be able to ignore, especially with kids in the car who are all to curious as to why the man is holding out a cup on the corner.
Or the mom of 3 boys standing at a busy intersection holding a sign asking for help to feed her children.
I don't think about the reasons that put them where they are. Or how they're going to use the money. Or if they really actually need it.
I just know that you have to be in a pretty low place in your life to resort to begging.
I had my window down and as the man walked up, he said "hello." I looked over and remembered that I had cash, so I grabbed a dollar, but then realized I had four, all of which I'd be perfectly fine without. I thought of all the change my kids have gathered that just sits in boxes and drawers around my kitchen that I've had to rip out of Bridget's hand before she eats them.
And so I gave it all the cash to him.
"Go get out of the sun!" I said. "Hopefully this will help a little."
"Thank you," he replied, looking surprised. "This will feed me for the day!"
We exchanged first names, and then he walked away. Waving at the cars, saluting to the truck driver in front of me, pointing to the sky.
Returning home an hour later, I looked for him, but he was gone. Maybe on another street. But maybe sitting in the air conditioning eating lunch somewhere.
Four dollars to make someone's day. To give someone a little bit of food (I hope).
Money well spent.