He tried to shake my hand and start a conversation, but then he saw that I was on the phone and made a gesture to show that he was sorry to interrupt me. He waited patiently.
The conversation ended, and when I put my phone back in my pocket he tried to shake my hand again, all smiles.
"Hey, how you doin', man? I just want to--"
"I don't know what you want," I said, not taking his hand, "but I can't help you."
He dropped the smile. "Oh you can't, huh?"
"I don't even know if you need help," I continued, "but in my experience anyone who comes up to you that you don't know isn't about to give you a free lunch." I looked down in the trunk and pulled out the rest of my groceries.
"Sometimes people do need a little help," he said, indignant. He began to walk away. "I hope you don't need help someday."
"You'd have that smile wiped off that face of yours real quick," he added over his shoulder.
"Good luck," I said.
I hope to address some ideas connected to this situation soon, but for now here are a few bullet points:
• I've given money to people in very similar situations like this a number of times, and I've always felt stupid afterward. I think my first response to him sums it up.
• I went out to check on my car every few minutes for about half an hour after the conversation. I was convinced I would catch this guy peeing on it or vandalizing it.
• His obvious resentment toward my not helping him made me feel like I made the right decision in not helping him.
• The idea of service has come up for me a lot lately, and after this was over it came to mind again. How could I possibly help this man? I don't think that giving him money would truly help him. What's the "right" call here?