Beggars Can Be Choosers

Panhandlers aren’t new to Seattle, but she happened to be sitting outside the restaurant where I wanted to grab a veggie wrap. I’m not a cash-carrier so I couldn’t offer any money. 

She was probably in her mid-20’s, but she looked much older in a scarf and old coat as she tried to stay warm on this blustery day.

I grabbed my take-out bag and stood just inside the door observing the young woman. She was using an iPhone. My first thought was if she can afford an iPhone why was she begging?

But this is poverty in America. According to a social services friend, most of our poor have flat screen TVs and live in subsidized rentals. Food is often bartered for “other” things. 

While the government hopes to get folks in a better position to get back to work—some choose the beggar's life.

Pedestrians were walking right past the young woman’s “Anything Helps” sign. She was scrolling on her phone—who knows, probably Facebook. Sigh.

She may have been a drug addict or perhaps just hungry. Maybe both. Maybe neither.

Poverty in America isn’t the same kind of poverty I once knew. There are plenty of programs to serve this woman, but what she probably lacks is a purpose for her life. And finding purpose takes more than a program. For me, it took God.

Stepping outside, I handed the girl my veggie wrap. Our eyes met and I smiled into a weary face that knew the gritty life I could avoid. Two lives intersecting for a brief moment. 

I had to run to catch the next ferry. That was easy. But for a young beggar, she had to find her purpose. 

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