Friday, July 23, 2010

Hunger is not pretty

Hindsight is 20/20 and I realize that I fell short to a homeless man's request for aid.

I was sitting at McDonald's having breakfast, lost in thought to compose a new poem for this blog. A disheveled man approached me suddenly, a wild look in his eyes, and a loud demand emerging from his lips:

"I need money for some food!"

I always help the homeless in their quest for a meal. And here a meal could be had quickly. But the man's tone was off-putting and I found myself on the defensive. Quickly I calculated that I was only willing to give the man two ones, and told him so.

That wasn't enough, the man said. He needed $5 to $10, he said, "so I can choose for myself what to order."

He kept insisting, and I found myself getting irritated. I had come to the restaurant for some peace and quiet and this man, this stranger, was disturbing it! How dare he DEMAND money from me, I thought.

I was perturbed. Reluctantly, I parted with the $2, but instead of thanking me, he glared at me.

Later, it dawned on me:

Hunger is not polite and it's not pretty. Hunger is strident, screaming to be noticed.

I know that now. And I wish that I had given the man enough money for a decent meal.

--By Ron Cooper


  1. Great post, Ron. I learnt a lot from your experience....

  2. Wonderful ~ you hit the nail on the head. This is a great reminder to every one of us to think about the circumstances that happen to us and what we can learn from them.

    I appreciate you visiting & following my blog. I have reciprocated and look forward to more inspiring words from you.

    Have a wondrous weekend.

    Marie @ Sally Lee by the Sea

  3. Very insightful I appreciate the list. Thanks for following, I am following you back now.


  4. Hi Ron! Thanks so much for stopping by! While I like the way you thought of the situation, I think that people should be thankful for what they receive. And regardless of how hungry he was, he should have been happy with what you were offering and said thank you.

  5. I love learning something from what I read. Your outlook is touching. I think you learned something and your teaching others. I think the hungry man might have learned something to like maybe being more polite even in the worst situations. Thanks for visiting my blog following you back looking forward to reading morefrom you

    My inspiration of the morning my son giving me a kiss and telling he loves me and the says mom Im everyones best friend. Little ones have a lot of love to share

  6. I think that no matter how hungry or how desperate you still have to be nice. Almost every single time we go out we are approached by people asking for some money for food, and the only times that I ever say no is when someone has a bad attitude. Either way I never give more than 2 or 3 dollars, after all I am a mom with 5 kids and 2 grandkids all living with me, and they are usually a single man/woman that look perfectly able to work.
    I think what you gave him was fine, I am sure he got more with another person and ate just fine. :)
    Don't stress it.

    Thanks for following us, we are now following you back.

  7. I feel so lucky to learn about your blog. With a screaming almost two year-old toddler, I can benefit from some inspiration--kind words, thoughts, reflections. A few years ago, I had a woman from a difficult neighborhood demand $20 so she could buy diapers for her kids. I was walking to my car from work and was caught off-guard. I knew our college was located in an impoverished neighbornood, so I actually gave her a $20 bill. I still think about that time because it's the most I've ever given to a complete stranger, and she wasn't even appreciative about it. If I were asked today, I'm not sure if I would do the same thing. I'm still undecided about it. On the one hand, I have a little boy now and understand how expensive diapers can be. On the other hand, I've given up my full-time career to be with him and I need that $20... Your post is definitely thought provoking... Thank you for following. I'm definitely following you back :)

  8. Hi Ron!

    THanks so much for the follow..back at ya! :-)

    Happy Friday!!



  9. Thanks for stopping in and following from the Friday Follows! I'm glad you did and i'm your newest fan, too!

    It is hard to know when someone really needs help. You did great helping him and I'm sure there was another kind soul that helped,too.

    Susieqtpies at Scraps of Life

  10. thanks for the follow! following you back. interesting perspective on the situation. I struggle with wanting to help people less fortunate than me and feeling too terrified when people approach me. In the end I'm usually too afraid to help anyone approaching me on the street/parking lot (I've been robbed at gunpoint)

  11. Thank you for following me, more so because now I get to follow you, and already am in love with your blog and the way you write xxoo

  12. I am visiting you via New Friends Friday. I just finished reading the second book in the Hunger Games series and this posted really resonated with me. If you haven't read this book I highly recommended it. You are absolutely right...Hunger isn't pretty. It is hard when so many have pretended to be without to take advantage of the situation, yet there are still so many people who go hungry and actually need what they are asking for. Hard to determine those in need and those taking advantage.

  13. Thank you for follow me, I'm your follower Google and also Facebook.
    Have a nice day.

  14. Yes, you have thought of this in a way that most have not. It made me think.

    I am following you back. Thanks for being my 300th follower!

  15. This was a really great post. Working in NY I come across scenarios like this on a daily basis. Next time, I'll likely rethink my actions.

    Thanks for following my blog!

  16. I admire your compassion. I would have had more trouble in this situation being compassionate.

  17. This was a really good post. I agree with several of the people above - but I would suggest instead of handing out the money that you should walk the man up to checkout and offer to pay for his meal.
    Maybe even provide him with a book of gift certificates at the same time for future meals.

    If he's still ungrateful - then you know you did what you could to help.

    I use to ride the bus everyday and I can't tell you how many times I would be on the bus and see a man (or woman) out panhandling. People would give them money of course. But on the way home I would see that same man (or woman) get on the bus with several bags of groceries & 2-3 cases of beer. Do you know what they would tell us? They had received quite a bit of money (usually from the asian's visiting our town - we get a lot of business people) from people who would want to help - these same pan handlers would then get off at an upscale apartment or even a middle class one with all their groceries & alcohol. There are people that just want us to pay for them - and thus give a bad name to those that are grateful for the little help that people like you and I want to provide.

    Always offer to buy the diapers, formula, the meal - or carry gift certificates to McD's or Burger King. Don't hand out much more than a couple dollars.

  18. This posts reflects well on the title of your blog! Inspired... by what you've said today I have been inspired, you've made me think about the important things in life... and where my priorities should be laying. I've been in a bit of a 'poor me, my life is so hard' funk lately.. but really I need to get a grip!! I'm not starving, I have a roof over my head my life is not THAT bad!

    So thank you. Sincerely thank you!

    :) Hazel

  19. I agree with what some of the other reader's said; while I cannot even imagine what he is going through, if he approached me like this I probably would have been scared and not given him anything.

  20. Hey Ron, great observations!!!! Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing.

  21. You are so right. It's not polite. And it's not fair that we expect it to be. Thank you for coming by and following. I'm following you back.


  22. Thanks for visiting today. This is a really interesting post- thanks for sharing and for being so open with your thoughts.

  23. Good post. The sad part is that you were probably more generous than I would have been.

  24. I can totally appreciate your point of view... I have to agree with Tina above, though. There are people that make quite a good LIVING from pan-handling and it makes it harder for the ones who truly do need it.

    We have a charity that we regularly give to that always helps those in need and helps them get back on their feet. When we run into someone that we feel inspired to help, we will provide them with the need and not the cash. This has been the case with meals and gas.

    When I was young, we provided a place to stay for a poor family that was moving and their daughter ended up sick with pneumonia and in the hospital. They had nothing but their rickety car and with the delay didn't have enough to get to where they were heading. My mom was a nurse at that hospital and learned of their situation working with them and felt inspired to offer them help. This family was grateful and a friendship was formed.

    I think we often have a sixth sense and should pay attention to our gut in these situations.

    The man will find that if he truly is in need, kindness and appreciation will truly take him a LOT further every time. When asking for something, whatever your situation, manners is the better route. Even a humble request. But angry demands is a turn off.

    You have to think "Am I enabling or helping?" Go with the gut instinct.

    Thanks for the follow, Following back. ;D

  25. Hi Ron,

    Thanks for stopping by. I actually already follow your great blog!


  26. I'm so glad you stopped by my blog, I am instantly in love with yours. Great post, thank you for sharing your experience with us...its inspiring!

  27. You were under no obligation to give anything to the man who demanded money for food. And what an ingrate, demanding even more after you gave him $2. I have given money to some, but not all, homeless people in the past who have asked me for money to buy food as I walked by. I even bought some McDonalds food for some of them, prefering to give them food directly rather than money. I remember I went into a McDonalds and bought a nice big hamburger (I think it was a Big Mac) years ago for a down-and-out looking older woman who was standing outside the McDonalds and was asking for money to buy food at McDonalds. I surprised her with the sandwich, and after I handed it to her, she threw the sandwich on the ground. What could I say. I just walked away. You should not feel in the least bit guilty, but that, of course, is up to you because you experienced the event and you know your own heart. Your post is thought-provoking.

  28. Hi there Ron. I just typed a comment and then forot to follow through and closed it and now it is lost. Here goes again.

    I like to read all the other comments and I learn so much about other places from them. Firstly the comment from someone with regard to always being asked for something whenever she goes out was amazing to me. I never get asked for anything from where I come from. When I smoke I get asked for smokes and once a man asked for a dollar to use a pay phone. WOW.

    Then the comment about the lady who gave her neighbour $20 for disposable diapers was amazing. I would have said no and then maybe tried to organise cloth nappies with some safety pins that can be reused and solve the problem for a longer period of time. If she didn't want this solution then I would definately have said no.

    As for your few dollars. I think that it is fine to do what you did. The thing that stands out to me though is the words he used when saying he wanted to CHOOSE something for himself. Choice is as gut filling as food and yes he was rude but I have no idea what it is like to be homeless and no food and on the outskirts of society. Maybe 5 people before you had said bugger off and maybe he was just having a real rough day.

    I know all this is easy to say afterwards as when you are asked something at the drop of a hat the thought processes go a little haywire.

    Anyway - interesting post and thanks for following me, Cheers, Wendy

  29. Hi Ron! Thanks for following my blog. My reaction to the man at McDonald's would have been the same as yours, but in the end you're right: hungry is not a fun feeling, especially when you don't know where your next meal is coming from. At the end of the day, you didn't turn him away - even though there was probably a whole lot of other people who did.

  30. Thanks for following our blog, even more thanks for inspiring us as I shared "Hunger is Not Pretty" with my children.

  31. Thanks for visiting/following my blog. :) Yep, hunger isn't pretty and neither is being homeless. Lots of homeless I've met seem to feel like they are 'ghosts' with no name and when I've asked their names it's like they're reminded they have a name and matter.

  32. PS I used to live in Louisville and not sure if they are still doing this but Sunday mornings by Joe's Crab Shack(where the steps like an amphitheater lead to the river) they have a very early morning service and are always looking for volunteers to hand out clothes and food. I can't remember what time it starts maybe 7am or 8am? It'll look like no ones there when you pull into the parking lot by the Crab Shack but get out of your car and start walking down the steps and there's sometimes 100-150 people there. They can always use more help. :)

  33. Yes you are right, Ron. We must try to figure out what drives one to act in the way one does. Sorry for not coming around here for while,been too busy tweaking and tuning g my own blog.


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