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An anecdote


The panhandler

My encounter with a panhandler had me thinking about a moral
issue. If you were in my situation, what would you do?

I make my living as a house painter. It is my only source of livelihood so I'm very
meticulous with my work and I take pride in my paint jobs. So one day when I
saw a middle-aged man waving at me to come down, while I was taking a
break from my paint job from the second storey of an apartment building, I
quickly went down to meet him on the street side. I was thinking that maybe he
was interested in a paint job and wanted some information, or worse, he might
some critique about my work.

"
Hi! What do you want?" I asked him curiously.

"
Can you spare me a dollar for a cup of coffee?" he answered.

"
What's your name?" I asked him politely, trying to hide my annoyance that he
made me run downstairs just to panhandle.

"
William," he replied.

"
Come with me upstairs," I said.

He followed me as  I walked back upstairs at the apartment. Upon reaching
exactly where I was when I saw on the street, I turned to him and said, "
I'm sorry
William, but I neither have a dollar, nor a cup of coffee
."

At that point, I resumed my work.

My decision not to give any money to the man was an easy one. Sociologist, I
have been told, think it is not  a good idea to dole out money  to panhandlers
because it would only encourage the panhandlers to become dependent on
hand-outs, instead of gaining some skills that would help them find gainful
employment. If one wants to help the needy, they say, it is better to donate to
charities.

But that night I found myself struggling with my conscience on a different issue.
The man was rude in tricking me to come down from the second storey
apartment, and I got even with him by making him climb the stairs with me
before telling him I neither have money, nor a cup of coffee. Was it right, or was
it wrong, for me to do that?  
Next:  What is an anecdote?

Examples of anecdotes:

My first paycheck
The art of persuasion
The birds and the bees
The chocolate chip cookies
The hotel guests
The meat, the egg, and the coffee beans
The panhandler