28 July 2009

"Now give me money, that's what I want" --The Beatles

[Editor's note: Yeah, I was a little quick with the trigger finger today and--accidentally--blessed you with two posts. Instead of pointing out my error, you could, oh, I dunno, just be grateful and look at both of them. Well, you could. Or even--now this is a crazy thought here--comment! Getting judgy is not a good look on you. Neither is taupe. Just sayin'.]

I had lunch with the entertaining and sweet Barbara in Old Town Alexandria at Restaurant Eve. They run quite the deal during the week. So I got good company and good food.

I also got more. Usually I have some change on me but this time I managed to leave the house without any change and Old Town is all about metered parking. What to do?

I considered parking, running to the restaurant, asking for change, running back to the car all while hoping a cop didn't wander by in the meantime. But the three--count 'em: three--cop cars I saw on the way, made me nervous.

Instead, I parked, took a dollar out of my purse and, waving it, asked the first person I saw if she had change for the meter. She immediately replied "Yes" and handed me four quarters from her hand! I guess she was all ready to feed a meter herself and had extra...? Strange, but who am I to be ungrateful? I thanked her, gave her the dollar and fed the meter.

That bought me an hour. Probably sufficient but I didn't want to be that person that rushes you through lunch. So, I took out another dollar and waved it at the next person I saw, asking for change for the meter. He immediately fished out his change and said "I don't have change for a dollar but take what I have." Me: "No, here, take the dollar." Him: "No, no, just take the change and feed the meter."


Which brings me to the question du jour: How often do you depend on the kindness of strangers? Will you only do it in emergencies or do you assume, hey, that's what strangers are for?

Bonus questions: Would you help someone in this situation or keep walking? Would it matter what they looked like?


Rose said...

I've had people give me change in both DC and Baltimore. And have been totally surprised. Just goes to show that I can't always judge the situation before I'm in it.

Mike said...

main Q - I can't remember the last time I had to ask somebody for anything.

bonus Q1 - sure :)
bonus Q2 - I might even hang around to put the money in.

You do know that you can go change the date to tomorrow. The post will stay but the date will show up as what ever you put in.

lustyreader said...

now i'll just have TWO songs stuck in my head today from your post titles!

i never depend on the kindness of strangers, which makes it all the more special if they ARE kind, like in your story.

(ps: my spam word was cophed, as in, "the kind stranger cophed up some change for you")

Felisa said...

I don't depend on the kindness of strangers but when I'm in a bind and the only people around are strangers, I just say screw it and ask them for help. Almost all the time, they've never failed to surprise me with actually helping me out.

I try to help out when I can but one time, I had a guy tell me the same story two days in a row in the same parking lot (something about how he was out of gas and all he needed was $5 to get home), that ticked me off...

Bowie Mike said...

I try to help others, but I generally don't ask for help. It makes me feel like I am building up some credits. In reality, it is more like accumulating airline miles that I will never be able to cash in. Do you need a quarter?

f.B said...

I'm like Bowie Mike. I help, but I never expect the return. Maybe I should be more hopeful?

HKW said...

I depend on strangers daily, not by "asking" for things but expecting people to be nice. Hope is a better word, I hope people are nice.

In your situation, I would have stopped and honestly said I didn't have change. I never have cash.

Cyndy said...

I keep lots of change in my car so I'm all set. I'm usually happy to give someone change if they need it. Sometimes I'm less happy.

Last week I donated 75 cents to a driver who had just cut in front of me to get to an exact change booth on the Dulles Toll Road and then just stopped there at the booth. My lane had been totally clear before this car cut me off, (actually I had also stopped to let her in) but now I was no longer able to just zoom through with my EZPass because of her. The six honking cars behind me seemed to be super annoyed that this person appeared to either not have change, or did not know what to do. So finally I jumped out of my car, walked up, and put the three quarters in the basket. I have to admit that although I was not one of the honkers, I MAY have had a slightly road ragey demeanor, influenced by the fact that I hate it when people honk. I did not exchange pleasantries with the driver because I just wanted to get the quarters deposited, get back in my car, and get going. The second the light turned green she bolted on out of there, so it wasn't that she was "slow" - my husband thinks she probably does that kind of thing all the time. I can't even imaginge that. Anyway, it was kind of a weird and creepy incident and not particularly heartwarming, mostly because of all the honking. I'm glad she didn't decide to use her gun for protection!

Little Ms Blogger said...

I can't answer Q1 b/c I don't remember a time that I asked for help.

BQ - I have totally given $$ to strangers when in need. One night after dinner my friend and I came across a lady that had very little gas and needed enough for 2 gallons to get home - unemployed, I still gave her what I could.

Cyndy's story is amazing. I probably would have done the same, but the woman should have just driven through and gotten the ticket.

Titania said...

Strangers pretty much saved me once, in a Germany airport, where absolutely nothing was written in English. Most of these strangers barely spoke any English also, but they made the effort to help me and communicate with me. They were amazing people. Something similar happened in another trip as well, this time to Austria...

I want to think that I would help someone in need in a similar situation

Narm said...

I pretty much never expect kindness from strangers but try to give out random acts of kindness all the time. If for no other reason than the look of disbelief / cynicism on their face.

Barbara said...

Wow! All this press is going to go to my head. I thoroughly enjoyed lunch and am so happy that neither of us got a parking ticket.

I would ALWAYS give any person who needed it quarters to feed the meter because I have gotten way too many tickets counting on luck. I think there must be a red light that appears over my car if I even dare not to be legal, so I just feed the meters, even into the night where they now require it (China Town, for example).

I toss all quarters into the console compartment of my cars so I can be ready!

Of course, I've had a recent reprieve with my handicap placard that expires in 2 days, so that may be the real reason why I have not been getting tickets lately. (In case you don't know, such a sticker gives you not only free parking in DC, but double the hours. So for example, today in Dupont I parked in a 1-hour space FREE for 2 hours while I went into Axis to get my hair cut.)

Reya Mellicker said...

Here in DC I try not to ask for help. But in the suburbs and especially in rural areas, it's culturally acceptable to ask for change.

I guess Alexandria is a very friendly place, though if you looked like a bag lady, your experience would have been quite different.

lacochran said...

Rose: Good point. In the words of John Mather, "We think we know what's going on and nature doesn't care what we think."

Mike: It isn't the date that troubles me. It's that once the "publish" button is hit, it appears in a million readers. Okay, 20 readers. And then, even if I delete my copy, it's still out there.

lustyreader: Thanks for weighing in. Are the songs duking it out in your head?

Felisa: There's always one or two that ruin it for the rest, hm?

Bowie Mike: Yes! Please send it along!

f.B, Little Ms Blogger: Maybe it's a gift to let other people feel useful by helping you?

HKW: I've often heard the phrase "hope is not a methodology" but... maybe it is?

Cyndy: How bizarre.

Titania: I know you would.

Narm: We get our entertainment where we can.

Barbara: I'm glad you soon won't have need for the placard, convenient or not.

Reya Mellicker: I was certainly impressed with the citizenry.