Change in my pocket

December 22, 2013 — 2 Comments

Wanting to add a little mileage to today’s run, I extend the boundaries of my normal route. I run up Overhill and down Northway past the million dollar homes adorned with wreaths and red bows. I turn left and pass Sherwood Gardens, just as lovely in the winter as it is when it is full of tulips in April. Turning right I continue to the edge of Guilford and into Waverly, the much poorer neighborhood just beyond the stone walls and fences that separate it from its wealthy neighbors to the west.


I run south on York and it starts to rain. I pass people waiting for the 8 bus, huddled with coats but no umbrellas on their way home or to church or work. The houses here that are not boarded up vacants are run down and in disrepair. I turn at 33rd and head back towards prosperity. I pass Johns Hopkins and the expensive high rise condominiums that overlook downtown.


Running north I reach the intersection of Roland and Cold Spring. It is raining harder now. A figure stands in the median strip with a cup and a cardboard sign that I can’t read from my side of the street. Five cars pass him by, but one stops. As I get closer I notice that he is an old white man with a dirty white beard. He is thin and his coat is brown, dirty and wet.


I continue north and pass Baltimore’s most desireable private schools before turning south. It occurs to me that if the bearded man had been wearing a Santa costume and ringing a bell next to a kettle, everyone would have stopped and contributed. Yet when confronted with a real person in real poverty only a small fraction of my neighbors were willing to part with even a few coins.

And I am no different. Just two days ago, while on my way to court, I passed another person in need. “Spare some change?” he asked, crumpled on the ground and leaning against the corner of the building. “Sorry, don’t have any” which, while true, was not the real reason I wasn’t going to give him anything. “Merry Christmas” he said sincerely as we walked by without saying anything in reply.

Today I wonder how many others passed that poor man on Friday and offered excuses but no change. I also regret that I was not more like the driver who stopped instead of the five who ignored the man with the white beard on the corner of Roland and Cold Spring.

On my second lap he was no longer at the intersection. Even if I had change to offer, it would have been too late to help. I turn for home having made my New Year’s resolution ten days early. From now on I will always carry change in my pocket and be the one who stops.

2 responses to Change in my pocket

  1. 

    Dave, Since before this post, The number of people asking for money in Baltimore has been on my mined. You can’t drive down MLK without seeing someone in need. I see the same people day after day. I have been trying to give more and more, does it make a difference or are we being scammed? Several month ago I happened to have a $5 Starbucks gift card and offered that to the person asking for change, she responded whats this, but then I will have to go down town. Then the other day I was pumping gas across from the new casino and was asked for help. I gave the guy a dollar but heard his life story about the medical trial he was supposed to be a part of. Unfortunately with the cost of everything going up this goes beyond just the random people on the street, the other day at work in the cafeteria the person in front of me was trying to buy lunch, a personal pizza and a soda, he was $2 short, when did lunch get so expensive. I gave him the $2, but really feel that you should be able to get enough food for lunch for about $6.

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