Thursday, October 14, 2004

"And Thirty-Four Cent"

This story is a lesson which teaches us that in order to get the things we want, we must not be afraid to ask. "Ask and ye shall receive."

It was a pleasant summer evening, and my girlfriend and I were walking off a spicy cajun dinner. As we walked through the bustling city street, I noticed a scruffy looking individual making his way toward us. Being a lifetime resident of the inner city, I was no stranger to the accosting of transients. So as this man approached, we braced ourselves for whatever story was about to ensue.

We were politely informed that this particular "street person" was not here to hurt us. That was a great relief to me, because my cans of whoop-ass had run dry (that's another story). After familiarizing himself to us by calling me his "brotha," and speaking briefly about "the Good Lord," the hobo (we'll call him "Jim") weaved an intricate tale of depression and disaster.

Apparently, poor Jim just had the wheels jacked off his car not five minutes prior to our meeting. Not only that, but he had caught "them bitches" in the middle of their thievery. In an attempt to dissuade them from stealing the tire, he hit one of the thieves. At this point Jim showed me his bloody knuckles as obvious proof to the veracity of his story. After they ran off, Jim looked around for a cop and proceeded to walk the streets for help.

Having found help in me and my girlfriend, Jim reached the obvious conclusion that we could best assist him by giving him seven dollars "and thirty-four cent."

Let me digress a moment to address the profundity of that "thirty-four cent." I may be wrong in saying this, but I believe the preciseness of this number was some sort of attempt to prove that Jim indeed needed the money for a specific purpose, and was not merely making up a lame story. He didn't need five, six, or seven dollars: he needed seven dollars "and thirty-four cent."

Well, I was in a good mood that day, and I happened to have some money in my wallet. I figured that whether Jim really needed a new tire (the reason for the $7.34) wasn't the point. Here was a fellow man ("brother" even) in need, and I had the means necessary to help him.

So I reached deep into my wallet, pulled out the seven dollars, gave my girl a little wink, and proudly laid that seven dollars into the chalky white of Jim's hands. Happy at myself for having done such a generous and philanthropic deed, I looked at Jim and said, "There you go, buddy. Seven dollars."

I looked back at my girlfriend with a smile, and then glanced back at Jim in anticipation of the praise, thanksgivings, and "God bless you's" that were sure to come.

Keep in mind, all of this happened in a split second. So, right after I had said, " dollars," Jim looked down at the veritable fortune in his hands and stammered, "and thirty-four cent?"

And thirty-four cent!! What? Debating whether or not to snatch back my money and run, I looked at Jim to make sure I heard him right. He sternly repeated: "I need seven dollars and thirty-four cent."

So what lesson did I learn in return for the eight dollars that Jim scammed from me? "Give an inch and they'll take a mile?" "Never talk to strangers?" "There's a sucker born every minute?" No, the lesson I will take from this adventure is, "Ask and ye shall receive."


Urbanpink said...

Great story!

Joshua said...

Real nice. :-)