One more story from last Sunday. I was in Dierbergs, one of the two locally owned, family run grocery store chains that dominate the Saint Louis market. I normally shop Schnucks, it is both closer to home and cheaper than Dierbergs. Besides, Schnucks sports a more interesting and diverse clientele, who are not always annoying. I’m speaking of the students from the three neighboring universities. Dierbergs just happened to be conveniently placed astride my return route from the infamous Micro Center.
So, I’m immersed in my usual snatch and grab that passes for grocery shopping. I like to go commando, no list, no cart. Just a green basket slung in one arm, ready to be wielded as a shillelagh if necessary. Such is 21st-century foraging, it is about getting in and out of the store quickly. The longer you dwell, the more time they have to sell.
So I digress, I’m shopping in Dierbergs and I’m approached by a man. He has a plastic container in his left-hand. I can see that it is one of those whole chickens that both chains rotisserie roast. They’re a good deal, a lot of meat and not particularly expensive. He says that he is short a dollar or two and would like to buy this chicken to bring home to his daughter. While he is telling me this my vision is focused upon his right-hand. It is badly deformed. He has only two fingers, ring and pinky, and only a knuckle’s worth per. He notices this and kind of nervously laughs. I slipped two one-dollar bills between his right-hand’s ring and pinky fingers, which he seemed to strain to grasp. He thanks me and we quickly go our separate ways.
I don’t normally give money to panhandlers. I feel bad not doing so, but I believe that it is the better policy. Besides it’s cheaper. I still wonder about this guy’s story. He could have easily return the chicken to its bin and returned to the liquor aisle where this meet had occurred. Bottom line, I wouldn’t have given, if I didn’t want to, any ulterior motives aside, he was worse off than me. The next day, I decided to assuage any lingering guilt by buying one of those scannable food bank coupons at Schnucks.