Someone on the street asked me for change. He hadn’t had a coffee yet, he explained. As a fellow caffeine addict, I empathized. On a whim, I gave him a ten.
The man blinked in surprise. I could see him trying to figure out what to do.
“I’ll buy you a coffee,” he said.
I pointed out I already held a coffee in my hand.
“I’ll think of you,” he said.
The ten meant a lot to him. But it meant a lot to me to be able to help someone, at least for a morning. He got some food, I got some meaning. This sense of contribution would hold me over, at least for part of the day. And I knew no matter how my day turned out, this would be the most meaningful experience in it.
I thought about all the times I told people “sorry, no” when they asked for change. I could have been having this experience. How much would it cost me to have this experience every day?
Oh yeah, €3,650.
I thought what I could buy for €3,650 that would be better than having this experience 365 times.
I couldn’t think of anything.
I’m not sure when it became the norm to tell people no when they ask for money, walking past hungry people in our rush to make our nice lives perfect.
Don’t we have enough money to feed someone, at least for one morning?