“HEY MAN,” THE GUY SAID, “I just got out of jail and I need bus fare to get to a job that social services set me up with. Any chance you guys could help?”
My friend reached into his pocket and handed the guy a couple of singles. The guy said, “Thanks,” and then glanced over at me.
“Sorry man. No cash.”
As we were walking away I debated telling my friend. I don’t want to contribute to a stereotype — I know that everyone who begs isn’t necessarily strung out on drugs, that some of them are legitimately down on their luck — but I decided it was better to tell.
“I’ve seen that guy like, 5 times over the past two years,” I said. “He used to hang outside the bars and give that same spiel.”
My friend shrugged. “Maybe he’s using it for food.”
“Yeah,” I said, “Maybe.”