No Sleep 'Til Florida, and A Question.
November 8, 2000
An open letter to the state of Florida:
You hurt me. Why must you hurt me?
I remember the days when we were happy together. When I used to scamper and play on your verdant shores. Oh how I enjoyed your "Disneyworld." Even that educational "Epcot Center" was always a joy to me. How we used to laugh and play. The best of friends, we were.
Now you ruin everything. I thought we were on the same page. I thought we had a connection. Then I see that 49% of your people decided to vote for Monkey Boy. Why, Florida, why? Don't you love me anymore?
I hear that you've stooped as low as to misalign the switches in the voting booths so as to confuse the bewildered retiree population into voting for Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore. What's that all about? You're supposed to help people cross the street, not trick them into voting for fascists.
Florida, you've hurt me. I don't know if we'll ever be friends again, but all I'm saying is that not even the tallest waterslide in the world, or the sweetest of oranges, or even Shamu will make up for the betrayl of electing li'l Georgie Bush to the highest nation in the land.
no xo for you,
So things have been a little tense 'round these parts about the presidential election. I can't talk about it anymore. It's too stressful. Come back here to check on the latest breaking news. (Kidding. I update often, but not that often. Check here instead...)
New subject: what's your stand on panhandlers? Because I ran into a tricky situation today. See, my feeling is this--I feel like with respect to giving money to panhandlers, I either have to give to
everyone who asks me, or nobody. The reason I say that is that I don't want to be put in the situation of judging whether or not to give someone money on the basis of what they look like, or the story that they tell me, or anything subjective like that that could be controlled by my inner bias. If I have extra food, or something like that, I'll give it to them, but I kind of have this policy of not giving money. You can choose to agree or disagree. I'm not mean, I don't ignore them or anything, I just usually say, "sorry."
So today, I'm getting out of the train, and I get approached by this young girl about my age. She had that alterna-teen look about her--short hair, pierced eyebrow, grunge grrrl outfit, the works. And here's what goes down:
Excuse me, ma'am?
I was wondering if I could have 75 cents for the subway.
I need money to get on the subway.
(after only the slightest hesitation) Yeah, sure.
(takes out wallet)
(kind of starts babbling) Yeah, I just need some money. To get on the subway. Because I forgot my metrocard. I need to get the train fare. (Suddenly sounds like she's going to cry) Anything would help, really.
(giving her the money) Here you go.
Thank you so much.
(sensing that maybe something more was up with this chick than just having no train fare to get home) That's no problem. Good luck, OK?
So my problem now is this. I have just violated my own rule, and I know why. Becuase this girl was like me. I mean, she wasn't
exactly like me, but she was close to my age, and she looked like someone I could have gone to high school or college with. How many times have I been approached by people outside subway stations ostensibly needing "just a dollar for the train"? Too many to count. I used to give money to these people who would ask me in high school, but then I kind of stopped. Is that wrong? I know that panhandling is illegal. But if I don't give money to a old black man asking me for subway fare on the street, why is it that I'll give money to a young white girl asking for subway fare on the street? Because she doesn't look like a panhandler? Because she reminds me of myself? How is that fair? Did I do the right thing? Have I been doing the right thing? I don't know.
Hmm. Too serious today.