This is a nonfiction recollection of events as experienced by me; used with permission.
I am no stranger to being homeless and needing help in the form of money. Because I can relate to people that need money to do things like get on the bus, I thought I was being helpful when I made a donation to a homeless man. But, as you'll see, it didn't work out that way.
When this event occurred I was living in Oregon where bottle returns were worth 5 cents each. I'd say a bag of cans would've been worth around 5 dollars at the least. In my area, there are many people that will stop you to ask for money but some of the time they get picky for one reason or another.
On this day I was walking to the grocery store and a homeless man waved at me. I was headed to the grocery store with a bag of returns and my goal was to use the money for cat food. At the time I wasn't completely broke but I did like to bring in returns when possible just to save money here and there.
I stopped to talk to the man and he indicated that he was homeless. He asked me for a dollar or two so he could get something to eat. It was obvious he was having a hard time and so I decided to offer him my bag of returns. He looked at me like I was crazy and said that he's not doing my job returning them for me.
He started going off on me about how I need to go turn the returns in myself and then give him the money. I couldn't believe how rude he was being, especially in this area where returns could get you a nice amount of money for the work involved. While he was getting mad and complaining, I decided to back out of my offer so that I could use the money for myself.
Once I started to walk off and go do the returns he started following me while yelling about how cheap I was. I've been homeless before and I would've been much happier to get the bag of returns instead of cash because then it was like I was working for the money. He didn't see it that way and so I kept heading to the store with this man in tow.
Finally, the man cracked and the truth came out. He said something to me about how he's sorry but he's not allowed to go into the store due to his him trying to steal. Apparently this meant that they wouldn't let him turn in the cans. With this information in mind I told him that I'd talk to the people in the store about the matter.
I told him to wait outside of the store with the bottles and I told an employee to send the manager out. The clerk told me that the man wasn't allowed on the property and I said he was with me so I'd make sure nothing bad happened. The manager came out and I explained that he needed money and that I wanted him to be able to use the machines to return everything.
The manager said he could be on the property for a bit but only this one time and only if I stayed there with him. At this point I was done with the whole situation but I was willing to stand there while the homeless man turned everything in. I went outside to tell him that we could use the machines and he was gone.
Not only was he gone but I could see my bag of cans sitting outside of the store where he was standing when I last left him. I was annoyed but after I dealt with all of that I figured that I could just deal with the returns another time. This is why I turned around and went towards my house. I lived very close so it wasn't a big deal since I could stash the cans on my property for a bit longer.
On my way back home, the homeless man comes out of nowhere and asks me for money again. I pretty much got really mad and started yelling about how I tried to help and he didn't want to cooperate. I think he got the message because he walked away and started ignoring me when I'd walk by from then on.
I get that it's a pain to do returns but it's rude to me to not take them as a gift when it's possible to get a good chunk of money from them. Every other time I've offered returns to someone in this area, they have been thankful. Have you ever dealt with a difficult person like this?