Yesterday, we were approached by a a panhandler as we drove into McDonalds in our town. We were just there for a quick snack wrap for my daughter and a man came right up to the window asking for 65 cents. "I need 65 cents to get the bus to Lindenwold, it's not for beer, man." he assured us. The man looked no better than the bums I had given change to for years in New York City. I didn't care if they used it for beer, I figure if one had to go around asking for change, they maybe needed a beer and who was I to judge?
It was scary with our kids in the car though, it is amazing how the things that never phased us when we were young and unencumbered, take on a whole different significance once we become parents. Every stranger is a potential freak and it is harder to be friendly when worrying that they might pull a gun or knife out of their pockets. We gave him the change, laughed at the way he asked for it, because he must have asked for change for beer enough times to figure that is what everyone would think. I mean here he was explaining himself to complete strangers, as if EVERYONE knew he was a boozer and wouldn't believe him. But the whole experience rattled us because we are not used to strangers coming up to our car windows.
This was not our only bad McDonalds experience, two weeks ago, a kid was riding a huge bicycle around and around the store, in and out of the traffic pattern that goes through the drive-thru and parking lot. The bike was way too big and the wider front tire wobbled. This 11 year-old was going so fast people were beeping at him as they were trying to back out of their spots. I got out of the truck and stood in front of him and told him that he was doing a very dangerous thing. I mean it was scary, so scary that I couldn't just tune it out and get on with my life. I felt that if I drove away and did nothing and that kid died, I was gonna rot in you know where. The kid looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him to stop. He just continued doing the same thing and he almost got crushed right in front of my eyes by another customer coming around the corner. I started yelling then and a worker came outside to see what was up. He told the boy to stop it and I asked where his parents were. The kid just stomped away and went inside and sat with bunch of teenagers> I suspect they were the owners of the tricked-out bike. He glared at me as our truck pulled around to the order window. I knew that little &^%$ was going to get right back on the bike when we left, so I asked for a manager and explained the situation and offered to call the police. They said they would handle it and we got our food and left.
My daughter said he was a trouble-maker in school and was always causing a disturbance. I argued that it didn't matter, he still needed protecting, since no one was doing it for him. That kid who hated me for saving his neck, was giving us tough chin-ups and go (*&^ yourself movements with his hands as we drove away.
I may have just done the world a serious disservice by keeping him from getting killed, but at least some innocent driver won't have to blame themselves for running over a child. We had a friend who ran over a little kid who rode his big wheel right out of the driveway into oncoming traffic. She was treated very harshly by some other people I know. I knew how torn up she was about it, but it was not her fault, sometimes accidents just happen.
That kid at McDonalds is wrong, his family is wrong for letting him be unsupervised, his big brother is wrong for loaning him a bike to ride around a busy parking lot, and I think I am going back to Wendy's for a while. Sorry McDonalds, love the fries, but it is too scary around there right now.
Same panhandler started panning for gold at our family business and we had to call in the authorities. I mean really, we have available jobs listed, ask for a job for goodness sakes...