I've recently been watching a lot of What Would You Do? online. It's kind of like a Candid Camera type show for people with social consciences. People are put in "likely" scenarios to see how they will react. One of the most memorable shows was when they dressed up a bunch of people like polygamists in a restaurant and pretended that a 15 year old girl was being forced to marry an old man. This was a good scenario, since everyone can totally relate. I see this all the time, don't you? (That was sarcasm.) The interesting thing about What Would You Do?, besides the outlandish scenarios (a hot blonde girl stealing bikes, as if!) is how emotional I get watching it... perhaps because I am pretty heartless when it comes to helping strangers and the show makes me feel like a jerk.

Today, a man and a kid stopped me in the supermarket parking lot to ask for gas money. I said I didn't have any cash on me. This wasn't completely true. I may not have had cash on me, but I did have money in my car. Nice justification, eh? Afterward, I felt really guilty about it (or scared that this was going to be on What Would You Do?) and drove around the parking lot looking for them to give them five bucks. I never did find them, but it did get me in a reflective mood. Why am I a jerk? Why do I never give money to strangers? How can I be a nice person without giving everything I have away? Is there a more appropriate way for these people to be begging for money?

Erik, on the other hand, has no qualms about helping people out. Although I told him not to do it, Erik picked up a man walking along the side of the freeway a couple of days ago. The man had Erik drop him off at what appeared to be a meth house in a very secluded area of town. After Erik dropped him off, he called me, and in his best Mr. T voice, demanded that I give him all my money or I would never see my husband again. I said, "I'm a jerk who doesn't give money to strangers. Guess I'll never see my husband again." Then we laughed because the guy didn't kill Erik.


  1. I gave a this guy a few bucks the other day when I stopped to put gas in my car. He wasn't begging, he was just rummaging around through garbage cans. I never saw him ask anyone for money either he just looked like he could use some help. After I gave him the money he just kept on thanking me. As I walked away, he looked up and thanked God. I had good feeling after that.

  2. I feel like a jerk, too sometimes. I'd like to put partial blame on the fact that I'm not a fast thinker. And yes, we have been raised to not talk to strangers and yes, I've taken a self defense class where they share all kinds of stories to scare the begeebies out of you! I'm glad Erik is still alive.

  3. I used to feel bad too, but I've recently learned a lot about the MANY resources available to homeless people that can truly help them. Unfortunately, many of the people on the street are paralyzed by addiction and mental illness and don't take advantage of the housing, employment, psychiatric, etc. help that is available to them.

    I think giving is good - especially for us, it softens our hearts. And yes, I know that there are homeless (or very poor) people out there who are not addicted and who will spend the money you give them on food or diapers and not drugs or cigarettes. I also know that the scriptures say about us all being beggars. For me, I feel that I contribute to efforts to help people through my fast offerings and contributions to other established organization, and, when the Spirit prompts me, to individuals. So I don't feel guilty about not giving $5 to every person I see on the street.

  4. everyone took you serious! Me? I'm totally laughing my head off :) the final phone conversation put me over the chuckling edge!

  5. Ya, I was pretty freaked out when Zach sent me a cell phone pic of him with his "New best friend Buddy:" who he picked up in St. George and dropped off in Vegas on his drive moving down here. I guess Zach threatened the guy that he had a gun in the back of the car if he tried to pull anything. I think our husbands get a rush doing scary stuff like that. he didn't answer his phone the whole time the hitchhiker "buddy" was in the car because he didn't want me to freak out.

  6. Ya reminds me of Vak, we were driving back from Vegas once and I was sleeping in the passanger seat when I noticed that our car was slowing down, I looked up and realized that Vak was pulling over to help someone who had broken down. I ofcourse, immediately started screaming "AHH DON'T STOP!" and so Vak kept driving. You just hear horror stories of people being murdered or robbed those ways. I heard the best and safest thing you are suppossed to do is call help FOR THEM. but ya, I still feel guilty about not letting Vak pull over that one time. I do however give money to random strangers though:)

  7. Last week a nice older lady in Phoenix went to her ATM with a girl who said she needed some money for gas. The lady couldn't get any money out of the ATM and the next thing she knew, the girl was yanking on her finger trying to get her ring off. The lady begged her to stop, saying, "that's my wedding ring. Why are you doing this?" "I'm a thief," the girl replied. She was able to over-power the poor woman and took her ring.

    A few years ago we were at a gas station in San Bernadino and I was approached by a guy who said he was hungry and could I give him money for food. I had a new box of cereal in the car so I gave it to him. He took it, opened it up, looked inside, then tossed it in the garbage can. I was pretty mad, because that was OUR breakfast. I've had similar reactions when I've given food instead of money. Hey--why aren't they in neighborhoods volunteering to mow lawns instead of begging in a parking lot? I recommend giving money to various organizations that distribute to the homeless. That's what the church recommends too (see signs outside Temple Square) Unfortunately the majority of these people are up to no good---think Elizabeth Smart.

  8. I thought, "You know what would be a good response to this post? A long, boring story." I see I'm not the only one who felt this way.

    I left a class at Moorpark College one day and a guy in the parking lot asked me for a dollar for gas. I told him I didn't have any money, but like you, I had some in the car, and since I was on my way to the temple, I thought I should help him. I drove back to where he was and rolled down my window to hand him a dollar.

    It turned out he wasn't asking for gas money, he was selling VIP passes to a strip club. And here I was buying one from him right as the rest of my class members were reaching the parking lot. (I walked faster than they.) I had to loudly say, "I don't want that," and throw it back at him.

    Then, the next day before class began, I sort of loudly announced to no one in particular, "Hey, that guy was pretty crazy yesterday, huh? I gave him money for GAS and he thought I wanted to go to his strip club!"

    Maybe I should have told him a long, boring story. They always go over well.

  9. Very thought-provoking post and comments. I really like Charles' experience. I am just like you; my husband is just like Erik. I think that you and I are smarter than our husbands. (I prefer to be safe, not sorry.) I'm not against helping the needy-- I just prefer to be kind and generous when they don't DEMAND it.

    Have you ever seen "Yes Man" with Jim Carrey? His experience helping a homeless man ended pretty well!

  10. I picked up a young (drunk) girl hitch hiking in our rural area the other day... and my husband and kids gave me such a hard time for doing it I will never extend the hand of kindness AGAIN!. I am still kind of freaked out by the picture of the sister wives is it real?



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