Driving away from Maggiano's, we saw that parking lot security and the police had approached the woman that had plead to me for help. Were they responding to a complaint from a restaurant employee? Had another patron called security? I'll never know.
The next morning, at breakfast, we were sharing the story with two of our other coworkers who had been dining with us the previous evening. Apparently, the same lady had approached them in the parking lot. They told her they were sorry and got in their car. She got angry with them and stood directly in front of their car and flipped them off.
Your comments on the original Human Turd post have been very enlightening, and I've been thinking about them extensively. Many of you have arrived at the same conclusion that I came to so long ago: It isn't my place to decide anything about the person asking for help. I have no understanding of what it could be like, what someone has to go through, to become homeless and without any other recourse than asking for help from people on the street. Are there scammers? Sure. Have I been scammed before? Certainly. But have I helped someone genuinely in need? Yes, I have. Not that night in front of Maggiano's, but that has served me as a strong reminder that people all over the place need help all of the time, and that I need to be prepared, at least mentally, to help out in some small, respectful way.
This morning I went to the market to pick up a few things. On my way back out to the car, I noticed a clearly homeless woman sitting under a tree in the middle of the parking lot, rummaging through her things. I put my groceries in my car, grabbed a box of Quaker Oatmeal Squares, and took it to her.
"Would you like this?"
She studied the box closely. Without making eye contact, she asked, "What is it?"
"Cereal. It's really good."
"Uh, okay." She took the box with her weathered hand and set it beside her other belongings. Then she continued rummaging.
And then I told her something that I never say. "God bless you."