Would You Give This Man $5?
Would you give this man five dollars?
Apparently, a complete stranger would. That’s precisely what happened earlier today, in a public restaurant, no less.
Meet Rich Korbin. He’s been around the poker and gambling scene much longer than just about anyone. We met recently at the New York Deli, in Summerlin.
Both of our voices have a tendency to carry, and I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of getting pretty animated when I talk. That said, we must have been talking loudly enough where others in the restaurant could hear our conversation. Naturally, everything we say is interesting, so I don’t blame others for eavesdropping. After all, we’re fascinating people.
I don’t remember the subjects we were discussing exactly. Probably last week’s ballgames and some of the bad beats we’ve taken recently. Anyone who bets on sports regularly understands the tendency to focus on what went wrong instead of what went right.
So, as we’re talking, an older man approached the table as he headed towards the exit. He stopped and made some small talk. Then, to our utter shock, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a five-dollar bill. Next he plopped the fiver down on the table and said, “There! Take it!”
Rich and I looked at each other in disbelief. I was tempted to ask him if he could at least make it a twenty.
I have no idea what compelled this stranger to stop at our table and offer a token of generosity. After all, if he was eavesdropping, he must have heard our bets involved four-figure swings. Fuck the five. Can the man go and grab his checkbook?
Of course, there was no way we were going to accept the money, especially from someone we presumed lived on a fixed income. I realize that doing things like buying wines by the case and blowing $500 on the Green Bay Packers doesn’t elicit any sympathy. Nor should it.
Still, the man was insistent.
As the man walked past the deli counter on his way to the exit, I approached him and tried to give him back the $5. He stubbornly refused.
“I’m 80-years-old,” he said. “I heard things are tough, and I just want to help a little.”
I tried to place the bill in the man’s pocket but from the way he reacted, he wasn’t having any of it. He wanted to give us the money and, I suppose, gained some satisfaction from this act of altrusim. Against his protestations, I told him we’d look for him next time here at the deli and buy him lunch. He waved and said goodbye.
Afterward, Rich took the $5 and went to the deli counter when this photo (above) was taken.
Some time ago, I wrote an article about beggars and asked if it was proper to give cash handouts to people on the street. That question brought a mix of responses. However, the majority appeared to agree with giving money to those in need.
I’m still not sure I agree with that entirely. But what does have merit is the “pay it forward” philosophy. That’s the idea of committing a random act of kindness — with nothing expected in return. The rather idealistic consequences of many people paying it forward is a society much more connected and compassionate.
Reflecting back now, I suspect that man was paying it forward. And now, the mission is to do the same for someone, out there.
Look at what $5 may have started.
On the other hand, I plan to go to the liquor store later tonight. I might even make a bet on the New England-NY Jets game.
Hey, at least the man’s $5 won’t be wasted.