A young couple decided to deal with their ambivalence about
panhandlers by giving money to the first person who asked each day. They were sincerely attempting to work with their confusion around the issue of homelessness, but they had an agenda: they would be good, generous people and do their noble deed and then forget about their conflicted feelings for the rest of the day.
One morning a drunk asked the woman for money as she went into a store. Even though he was the first panhandler of the day, his presence disgusted her and she didn’t want to give him anything. When she came out of the store she hastily gave him a bill and rushed away. Walking to her car, she heard a voice calling, “Ma’am, ma’am!” She turned and there was the drunk, who said, “I think you made a mistake! You gave me a five.”
From The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön, page 95