I always thought I was too smart
to be hooked on stereotypes
developed by the popular media.
To top it off, my thoughtless behavior led to my lying.
Two evil deeds for the price of one.
That poor, wretched old lady did no more
than ask you for money
to help pay for bus fare to Woodland.
Instead of saying an honest no,
I lied and said I had no money.
I had money and I do give to charity.
Where did the thought that
she would spend it on drugs
or booze come from?
Was it her disheveled appearance?
Was it her obesity and unattractive appearance?
Was it the color of her skin?
Or was it her poorly fitting and soiled clothing?
Why was it so easy to say that I had no money?
In retrospect she clearly needed bus fare.
Sitting in my book-lined study
writing a check to the Food Bank
or Loaves and Fishes,
I never have to face the recipient.
My study-based charity efforts are safe and clean
with no pictures of the poor on the wall.
My sterile contact with poverty is a computer-generated check
signed with a feeling of a deed well done.
Giving is satisfying
and I carry around gold-colored dollar coins
as added tips to waitresses in restaurants.
My stereotype for them is
that they are college students
working their way through school.
In all the years of this extra tipping
and of giving to charity,
never once did I wonder
if the money was going for
drugs or booze.
I have been had by the silent,
seeping evil of common perceptions.
This is not good common sense.
For shame this time!
Never again will I not see through
this convenient blind spot.
November 13, 2009