One bad burrito beggar…

I had the tsunami on my mind last night as I was driving home from work. I’d been thinking about how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful city like L.A. and how with all its flaws, I still had the luxury of making it easy on myself by having some Taco Hell for dinner, instead of trying to figure out how to make dinner with the random stuff in our fridge. No, it was not a healthy choice, but that’s what I did last night.

Anyway, as I drove into the line at the Taco Bell drive-thru, I saw a older, African American man panhandling his way down the line of cars. Usually, I don’t give money to beggars because I know from working firsthand with homeless folks that money often goes toward unhealthy things like cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. But it was an especially chilly L.A. night and I was feeling like if I couldn’t do more for the tsunami victims, maybe I could do a little more for the people in need around here.

(more after the jump…)

Except for a parking token for the lot at the gym, I didn’t have any coins or change, so when he came up to my car, I flashed him my plastic and told him, “Sorry, I only have plastic.” He told me that I didn’t have to apologize & walked off to the next car in line. When I pulled up to the speaker, the guy had circled back from the end of the line. I asked him if I could buy him something to eat, and he said, “Yeah!”

“What do you want?” I asked him, proving that beggars CAN indeed sometimes be choosers.

“A burrito would be nice,” he answered, as he signalled that he’d wait for me at the other side of the drive-thru.

I ordered him a couple of burritos along with my meal and I paid for it with my credit card. Of course, the folks at Taco Hell screwed up my order, but I didn’t realize that when I got home. Anyway, I got to the end of the drive-thru where the guy was waiting anxiously for his burrito.

When I surprised him with two, he thanked me profusely, sprinkled in some “God Bless You”s and took the burritos for my hand.

I told him, “Stay warm tonight, ok?”

He went and ruined this happy story by saying, “I would if I were sleeping next to you in bed.”

Yuck. What the hell?!

I laughed it off, rolled up my window & drove away, but I was more than a little creeped out. Instead of a warm, fuzzy feeling for knowing that I fed someone for a night, I felt icky and wanted to take a shower to wash the scum off of me.

Maybe this is why I don’t like it when strangers talk to me.

I mean, I know I’m a weirdo magnet, but I really wish that I could’ve ended the story differently.

19 thoughts on “One bad burrito beggar…”

  1. No, no–it’s not just you!

    I’ve tried the buy-you-food thing, too, since it seems like a more stress-free transaction all around, and the guy turns around and hits on me! WTF?!?

    I think that more genuine human contact/compassion actually opens you up to more trouble (or maybe just if you’re a woman). It’s the camel’s nose thing–give someone an inch, even with the best of intentions, and sadly, the response is to see how much mileage they can get out of you.

  2. Obviously the guy knew “joz” wasn’t going to invite him home into her bed.

    So ‘mileage they can get’ is less the issue than straight up acting like a rude bastard. Treat a person with respect and decency and get disrespect and indecency in return.

    On the other hand if you expect groveling and gratitude in such a case aren’t you guilty of pitying a bum? Wouldn’t that piss you off if you were the bum in question?

    I suppose a warm “thanks” and “have a goodnight” is the ideal response … which I’ll have to remember next time I’m the bum in question and “joz” is on a fast food run.

  3. I’ve had something similar happen at my local artery-clogging fast food drive-thru. I bought one guy a sandwich, and another guy noticed and came up and started talking to me while I was at the window. I got him a soda, and he proceeded to hit on me. Fun!

    Of course, I’ve had good experiences, too, like the young guy sitting outside the El Pollo Loco that thanked me for his burrito and gave me one of the most sincerely grateful smiles I think I’ve ever seen.

  4. I give the guy points for reminding you and maybe himself that he’s a man, and a sexual being and maybe a prankster. Don’t take it so seriously. Laugh it off–tell him you snore. And while you deserve a star in your crown in heaven for buying him food, not giving because you disapprove of how it might be spent is sort of prissy.

  5. A friend of mine once tried to give a bum a leftover sandwich. The guy took it, looked at it, screamed, “I hate TUNA!” And threw it at my friend!

  6. I wasn’t there, I didn’t see his expression or hear his inflections. But, short of drooling as he said it, which of course may have been set off by his impending meal, but aside from that… He more than likely was just trying to make funny small talk. If it were a clean cut guy, would your reaction have been the same?

    Furthermore, you bought the guy a burrito, I don’t mean to take away from your generosity, but it’s a effin’ burrito. (Are we allowed to swear here?) Every little bit helps, think globally, act locally… I’ve read the bumper stickers. But, don’t go getting all high and mighty like you pulled this guy out of a burning building and this is how he repays you.

    Just sayin’ s’all.

  7. Rachel,

    I *DID* laugh it off: I said so in my post.

    I don’t deserve a crown in heaven for buying him food, but I also don’t deserve to be called “sort of prissy” for choosing not to give him my hard-earned money.

    Choosing how I want my money to be used is NOT prissy. It’s my prerogative.

    And that man’s inappropriate response made me wish that I hadn’t been nice to him.

  8. Splitpersonality:

    I am certainly not being “high and mighty” about anything. I just think that his response was inappropriate even if it HAD been in a “funny small talk” kind of way.

    And yes, if it was a clean cut guy that I didn’t know, who I hadn’t just bought some burritos who’d said that same comment to me, I would probably similiarly upset if it was said to me in the wrong context.

  9. Asked for a burrito, got a burrito. Asked for some nookie…

    You don’t get what you don’t ask for.

  10. I met a bum who actually saved me money. He inserted the end of a paper-clip in to the coin slot of a down-town parking meter with a digital display (that I was about to pay for). He jiggled the clip in there a few times and each move gained me time on the meter; I think I received a total of an hour. That guy got two buck of my change and some some respect for the “clinic” he provided me, too ;).

    But, buy the guy burritos with plastic? He had better “wink” at the seniorita.

  11. Hey Joz. Welcome to “Rachel’s” world where no good deed goes unpunished. You done good. Period.

  12. I hereby challenge our frequent commenter “Rachel” to comment once, just once, without saying anything negative. JUST ONCE.

  13. Well, why should I comment happy when so many posts at this site are “Everyone else in LA is rude and bad and I’m perfect”. We’ve had the nasty parkers, the sex-starved homeless guy, the evil tree-tossers, the wicked Hummer driver and the taggers. Not to mention bad traffic. Are all the regulars here so fabulous and correctly behaved? Do you guys just exist to point out the foibles of all the rest of Los Angelenos?
    Living here is a gift. I enjoy just about everything about Los Angeles and Southern California. But it seems that your little cabal just want to relate the horrible misadventures that befell them during their day. And you all did nothing wrong. Ever.

  14. Rachel, you are such and annoying, self-righteous pain in the ass. Of COURSE it’s our fault that you complain. Give me a break. While it’s perfectly reasonable for you to take inventory of everybody else, surprise surprise, you have no ability to own up to your own behavior. Out of the 25 posts on the first page, four or five bitchy posts means that all we do is complain about other people? Those are some kick ass math skills you’re brandishing. Not to mention your characterization of those posts is way off base. “Sex-starved homeless guy?” That hardly captures the spirit or intent of what Joz wrote which is obvious to everybody but you. And all those complaints about taggers? Let’s see who’s complaining about taggers:

    >The paint is donated, and I for one, am overjoyed that the stuff gets
    >painted over right away.
    >Taggers are gang-bangers. This isn’t NYC in the 70s,.
    >? Just because it took them a long time isn’t enough to move it from disgrace to art.

    Look! It’s YOU, complaining right there along with everybody else. But of course when you do it, it’s okay. I would hope so because it’s ALL YOU DO. Am I wrong? Please, please prove me wrong. Find me ONE comment you’ve made that’s not tearing somebody else down. ONE.

    Nobody here is perfect. More importantly, nobody here every CLAIMED to be perfect which would be pretty key to the point you’re trying to make.

  15. What my son (age 5) just started doing is keeping cans of Chef Boyardee and plastic spoons in the back of the car. When he spots someone who looks like they need help, we give them a can and a spoon. We’ve only been doing it for a week, and we’ve only had the opportunity to give away one can so far, but the guy seemed very appreciative.

    If I want to be really accommodating, I should probably get a few more items in case we encounter a homeless person who is a vegan or on the Atkins diet :-)

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