Yesterday, I was out biking (as part of a summer fitness regimen) when I noticed a pair of displaced people sitting by a shopping center entrance. Just to clarify, I have terrible willpower when it comes to panhandlers, so I try to keep as far away as I can or I'll burst out in tears and give them my bank card and pin number. So anyway, I rode on by and stopped into a drugstore and spent the two bucks of cash I had on me there on a cold sport drink. The entire time, however, I was thinking that I should give the cash to the destitute folks outside instead of wasting it on my (relatively) advantaged self. My sense of thirst won out though, so I thought about it for a bit and decided I would give them a pair of bus tickets I had in my pocket (I dunno, in case I broke an ankle riding or something). They were really appreciative about it, though my internal guilt machine kept reminding me of the cool drink I had in my other hand and the bank card in my pocket. I managed to escape pretty quickly and went to have lunch at a local Mexican fast food restaurant. I came out later and hopped back on my bike and waved to them as I left, they waved back. They were pretty nice folks.
It’s weird, when I originally wrote this, I included a bunch of brand names for the things I did, almost subconsciously. I don’t really like this method of worming into people’s heads, so I edited it to take them out.
Do you also have an internal guilt machine?