A few weeks ago I took one of my dogs to the vet for a check-up. Before arriving there, I passed the usual one or two people standing beside the freeway off-ramp, with small cardboard signs announcing their hunger or homelessness. Most of the time I can hardly read what is written, save the words at the bottom: “God Bless You!” This usually causes a tug at my heart but admittedly not enough to make me risk my life trying to figure out how I'm going to dig into my purse and stop long enough to throw money out the car window.
I pulled into the veterinarian's parking lot and there on the side of the entrance was yet another person standing with a sign, asking for help. While I do sometimes give a few dollars if it can be done without risking my life, I always feel annoyed that in "the land of the great," some people see no other recourse than pan handling for survival. Yet on the other side of this particular entrance there is always a group of men waiting for someone to offer them an odd job for the day (it is near a large Home Depot). Each side of this entrance seems to be a stark contrast to the other, in terms of people's attitude.
When the vet appointment was over I paid the bill. I feel extremely grateful that I am able to provide everything we need for the humans and pets in our own home. We budget well and are content. I have never cared about riches, only about having enough.
A few days ago a friend, Mark, came for dinner and told us a related story. He had gone to Barnes and Noble and saw "a man with a sign.” Instinctively, he reached into his pocket and gave this man some money. While in the store, he couldn't get this man out of his mind. He felt he knew him, but couldn't place where or how.
Leaving the bookstore, Mark approached the man and said he was sure he knew him but couldn't remember the circumstances. The man gave his name and then everything clicked. They did indeed know each other, from a local university. Mark asked the man what he was doing now. "Well, I'm still taking classes and almost have my degree.” Mark then asked the fellow what he was doing in the parking lot.
“Oh, this is just a part time job. You can't believe how lucrative it is.” He then started to pull wads of money out of his pockets. “Look at this. I made $50.00 in a half an hour, and I can make at least $500.00 in one day.” Mark didn't know what to say, incredulous and shocked as he was, except that maybe he'd see him around again. I asked if the pan handler gave Mark his money back. I am known for asking some stupid questions.
Aside from living in a society where these things are possible or necessary, what upsets me greatly is that you never know who is the scam artist, and that people give their own limited money to those who really don't need it. My husband, Daniel, once gave money to a fellow claiming to need money for gas in order to get home. Daniel gave him five dollars. Then, about a month later, there was the same fellow with the same sign and the same alleged problem! My husband said several things about this joker that I'll spare your eyes from, except to note that it was the last time he offered money to a pan handler.
Happenings such as these make one feel violated and confused. What are we to do?
A woman came to my door one day with a disabled child in a stroller. She said she was trying to raise money for an operation that he needed. She did not want a handout, but offered to do any job I might need to be done. I offered that my front flower bed needed weeding and she joyfully set about the task at hand and did a great job. I gave her water and more money than I normally would under the circumstances. I believe this woman had it figured out. Even if she really didn't need the money for her child, she was not about to stand on the corner and beg for it.
© Christine Geery 2012
I know that the following recipe has nothing to do with this story, except that the ingredients are inexpensive. So if you see someone who is down on their luck, maybe you could offer them a piece of this bread. You never know. It may invoke the luck of the Irish. (This is a re- post from last year. But it is so good I decided to share it again.)
Irish Soda Bread
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds, optional
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour,sugar, baking powder, soda and salt and stir well to mix.
Add the butter and rub in until the butter disappears into the dry ingredients.
Stir in the caraway seeds if used and the raisins.
In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk and egg together and mix into the dough mixture with a rubber spatula.
Turn the dough out on a floured work surface and fold it over on itself several times, shaping it into a round loaf. Transfer the loaf to one cookie sheet or jelly roll pan covered with parchment or foil and cut a cross in the top. I like to brush my breads with a beaten egg to make it shiny. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350 and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes more, until well colored and a toothpick plunged into the center emerges clean. Yields one loaf.
This is especially good with butter and marmalade when serving for breakfast.
Recipe adapted from Mary O'Reilly
I also just came across this sauce that sounds wonderful with corned beef. I haven't tried it yet, so this is a first for all of this.
Combine on the stove until smooth. 1/3 cup of brown sugar,2 tblsp of butter tlbs. of prepared mustard, 1/3 cup of ketchup, and 3 tblsp of apple cider vinegar.