The quality of the “Quality Inn” where I’ve been staying leaves something to be desired. Never mind the jacked up security lock on the door that’s dangling by one overtaxed wood screw, the internet service has not been as advertised. The signal in my room has been spotty at best and I have had to sit in the lobby to get online. That’s a first world problem right there: Boohoo, my instant global wireless access requires me to sit in an air conditioned building with free coffee a few feet away. Life is so unfair. Also, my bed was lumpy and the alarm clock wasn’t working so I had to rely on a wake-up call from the front desk. What is this, Soviet Russia?
Meanwhile, I’ve been aware of a relatively large number of homeless people around here. Last night as I was sitting in the lobby posting photos of birds on Facebook, a number of them came in to the building to ask the desk clerk for things. These included a man looking for a set of plastic silverware with which he could eat some food and a woman hoping that the clerk had some feminine hygiene products. I am happy to report that both of these individuals left with what they needed.
I went into a grocery store to purchase protein bars a few days ago because I am a hipster who buys things called protein bars at places called Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets. It’s a Wal-Mart exclusively for groceries. Anyway, as I came out, a (presumably) homeless man asked me for a nickel. He had been sitting there on one of the store’s complimentary electric shopping scooters since I went into the store asking everyone who exited for a nickel. I told him I didn’t have any nickels, which was technically true. I was not in possession of any coins valued at five cents. He said God bless you anyway.
Part of me felt guilty for a second for not giving him money, but I got over it. It’s kind of my personal policy to not give money to people like that unless they specifically say that they are hungry and need to get food. When people ask for cash (especially if they’re camped out outside a place that sells liquor) it's likely that they’re trying to scrape enough money together to go inside to buy booze. They typically will have some awkward story to explain why they need money. I once had a one-eyed lady tell me her car ran out of gas. She had one eye, which made her an unlikely candidate for a valid driver’s license. Also, she had no car.
But before you accuse me of being an insensitive jerk-face, let me assure you that I am not a cold-hearted monster. People who ask for food and/or money for food will take actual food if you offer it to them. I once had a guy ask for money to get food when I was on my way home from a potluck. I gave him all my packaged -up leftovers and he acted like it was Christmas. I was grateful for being able to help him get a home-cooked meal, which I suspect is not something he’d had in a while. Another time I had a guy ask me if I could help him get some hot dogs and buns from the gas station I was leaving. Only a truly desperate, hungry person would want to buy hot dogs from a gas station. He seemed sincere. I gave him five dollars. The guy outside Wal-Mart was not asking for food. He wanted nickels. For booze. And maybe a little extra “spreading around money” for tipping the cocktail waitress. I don’t know what he intended to purchase for five cents. Not the top shelf vodka, that’s for sure.
So the water pressure from the shower head was non-existent, and the continental breakfast eggs looked suspiciously powdered, but I have not had to ask any strangers for low value coins today. That alone is something to be grateful for. I’m also grateful I didn’t ever have to wait in a line for a loaf of dried out bread and a hunk of moldy cheese. In Soviet Russia, you also had to wait in line for government-issue vodka. That’s definitely not the instant gratification I expect to get out of my cheap booze. It might have actually cost a nickel though.
In summation, I did not complain about the wifi and I have been tipping well at the local restaurants because food service jobs are crap pay for crap work.