The fact that I am writing about this undermines the little good I tried to do this morning, when a bearded man in a straw hat asked, “Hey, can you give me $5 for pancakes?”
I confess I normally avert my eyes and breeze by these kinds of interactions, but for some reason – maybe it was the San Francisco air — I responded this morning. I told the guy I’d buy him pancakes.
The first red flag I missed was his immediate response, “Can you just give me the money or a gift card?” Like a wily pitcher, (or so I thought) I shook him off and pointed to the diner across the street. “We’ll get some pancakes over there.”
The second red flag I missed was his insisting that he sit at the counter by himself. He pointed to a booth in the rear corner and said, “You can sit back there and read the paper.” The waitress behind the counter looked none too pleased when I asked her if she would send my newfound friend’s bill to me, after he finished his breakfast.
When I looked up from my newspaper fifteen minutes later, my bearded buddy was long gone, but the waitress now had a smile on her face, and she informed me that he’d run up a bill, nearly 4 times the cost of those pancakes. She shook her head, and I could almost hear her silent “tsk tsk’ as I handed her my credit card.
Moments like this make me realize that, while I may have a fistful of letters after my name, there are days when I feel like I still just fell off the peanut truck.