Amarillo is just about in the middle of the United States. If you're going from one side to the other on I-40, you're going to hit the 'Rillo at the halfway point.
Since Old Man Murphy likes to smack folks with Bad Events somewhere around the midpoint of any trip, Amarillo has a large number of folks stranded with no means to go any further.
So, I'm pulling into a truck-stop on the east side of Amarillo and as I drive under the overpass, I see a man and a couple of sub-teenage kids sitting on the concrete slope of the overpass, holding a sign that said:
After I fill up, I get three sub specials from the deli, and as I scoot under the overpass, I stop and hand the meals to the man and his kids.
I am an adult, so I don't expect thanks for this sort of thing, but I was in no way prepared for the man to look at me, draw himself up to his full height and icily exclaim, "What's this?"
I look significantly at his sign, look back at him and say, "It's food."
He glares at me and snaps, "We don't want food, we want money."
Friends and neighbors, this is a sore spot with me. I'm a big fan of the old axiom, "Beggars can't be choosers."
I figure if you're hungry enough to set aside your pride and beg, then you're hungry enough not to be picky about how -- or what -- gets you fed.
I have rules about this sort of thing: If you come to me and say that you're hungry, but don't offer to work or trade for the food, I'll feed you a meal if I have it to spare, but that's it.
If you come to me, say that you're hungry and ask what you can do in exchange for a meal, I'll feed you and give you a $20 for the road, if I have it.
If you come to me, say that you're hungry and demand that I feed you, well, buddy it just ain't your day. You're either going to take your ingrate arse the hell away from me or one of us is going to get badly hurt, because I will be damned if I'm going to give you any food or money.
Just for a second, that beggar came awfully close to wearing those meals, but I looked past him to his kids, set the bags on the concrete, and said, "There is food, feed your bairns" and started backing to my pick-up.
That two-bit waste of DNA had the nerve to bow up at me, and snarl, "What, you too good to give us money?! We don't need your charity!"
Folks, if I give a stranger any-damned-thing at all, it's charity. Food, money, fuel, a ride, it doesn't matter -- it's all charity.
Totally flabbergasted, all I could do was climb into my pick-up and drive away.
Sweet Mother Mary, what has the world come to?
I'd like to thank the Great Society and the New Deal of the New American Liberals for convincing people that not only is getting money for free not an act of charity, but is actually something to be expected; that there is no shame to be had in sticking out your paw and expecting strangers to happily -- if not gratefully -- drop money into it.
We have an entire generation, hell, an entire culture, that expects -- demands -- that those who have must give to those who don't have, and that this is the Right and Correct Way Of Things. That this is not, in any way, to be thought of as charity, lest the ego of the beggar suffer damage.
And it's getting worse.
When my legions of flying monkeys complete my Quest for World Domination, there's going to be whole hell of a lot of changes around here.