September 28th, 2003


not-so-hypothetical questions

It is a cold Sunday in Cleveland, and there are few people wandering about.

You are walking past a Subway and a grizzly old man in a wheelchair rolls up to you and mumbles something like "Mister, can you spare can I please have a sandwich? Hungry I'm real hungry, and I need need cab fare. To get home." What do you do?

A haggard-looking beggar lugging a big bag of trash sits down next to you and asks, "Can you help me? I need some money to do my laundry." When you give him seventy-five cents he insists that it is not enough; he is poor and laundry costs more than you are used to, and he has a lot of laundry to do. He claims he needs at least ten dollars, and when you open your mouth to object he reduces it to five. You have seen this man digging through trash cans looking for food when he thinks nobody is looking. What do you do?

A man standing on the sidewalk in old but relatively ordinary clothes asks you for a moment of your time. He gives a long, eloquent, beautiful speech about racial colorblindness and the kindness of man. At the end he reveals that he's homeless and he would really, really appreciate it if you would overlook any of your misconceptions about black people (he's black) to treat him to a corned beef sandwich at a local deli. Problem is, this is downtown Cleveland, so it's a little pricey--corned beef sandwiches at that particular deli cost $8.49. What do you do?

A man dressed like a security guard asks you for a cigarette. You don't look old enough to smoke. What do you do?

A small child wearing a cape made from a plastic trash bag barrels down the sidewalk on a tiny little bike. He lets go of the handlebars for a second to do a Superman pose. Bicycling on sidewalks is illegal in this part of the city. What do you do?
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