The $20 I gave to a stranger

Yesterday I walked home after taking a vinyasa class. I like to walk after yoga. And I like to walk at night too because the city is different.

Around 5~10 minutes before reaching home a guy went to talk to me. Usually I ignore guys who talk to me at night in my neighbourhood. Let’s put it in contest: my neighbourhood is ok but let’s say it’s not the richest part of Montreal. In the area where I met the guy it’s common to see some dealers and some prostitutes and there are often people asking you for weird shit or others randomly screaming. Nothing really dangerous but I just try to not get myself into shitty situation either. Anyway, the guy told me that he didn’t have money and his car, that was parked a couple of blocks away, ran out of gas. He told me he had been asking to people for 2 hours and nobody gave him anything. Basically he needed between 10 and 20 dollars to fill his tank and so he could go home (20~30km from Montreal), he had to get to work at 5am the next day and it was around 10pm. In exchange he wanted to give me some tools (he told me he was a carpenter) he had in his car as a guarantee and then reimburse me in one or two days.

Usually I automatically think it’s some kind of a scam and I walk away. But this time I helped the guy. I gave him $20. I didn’t want to walk to his car and get some tools because it would have got me farther from home. So he told me he would call me today or tomorrow to give me my money back.

I don’t really care if I get my money back. I mean it’s $20, it won’t change my whole life but I usually don’t give this amount of money to a stranger in the street. I mean I would give $5 without thinking but for some reason $20 is making me feel weird inside.

I talked about it with a couple of people today. Some think it’s cool. Others think I’m cheap because I care about my money. And some others think that I’m stupid and it was obviously a scam. The thing is I want to test my faith in people. I really hope the guy calls me, not because I want my $20 back, but because I believed he was a good person and I really want him to be one.

You see, I think having faith in people requires more than sharing a facebook link of “30 pictures that will give you faith in humanity”. I’m really guilty of ignoring a lot of people in the streets. I often have my earbuds on as a defence mechanism. It’s bad. So I’m trying to push myself and I see what happens…

So what do you think? Did I make the right choice, am I cheap or am I just stupid?

ps: last thoughts on this… Whatever you think, this is really a selfish act. Worse, I kind of brag about it on my blog. But even if I kept it to myself I would have heard this little voice inside telling me “you’re so cool for helping people” and it would have been selfish too…

UPDATE: I saw the guy again. He was still asking for money to buy gas to someone else. So yeah… It was a scam. I still think I took the right decision though.